Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Field's Manifesto for Democratizing Government
The headline suggestion concerns the introduction of primaries, US style, to choose candidates in safe seats. Presumably they would be defined on the basis of their majorities and then all voters would choose, meaning candidates would need to stretch out, to a degree, to embrace all parties. This idea has been stimulated by the exciting US election procedures and other Field ideas have been drawn from there too
like: fixed term elections; election of public officials; and electing chairs of Select Committees by the whole House plus extending their powers to approve major appointments and initiate their own bills.
Freedland is enthusiastic, suggesting further, that party leaders might be elected by all 'declared' party voters in every constituency in the country. But certainly safe seats are the prime target for such reform in that there is no real contest and the majority of votes are wasted. This really could inject some democratic life back into our ailing system where, allowing for all the non voters, the current government was elected by only a pathetic and scarcely democratic 21.6% of the total electorate.
Freedland's determination have separate elections for the legislature and executive might also appeal to some admirers of the US democracy but, given the already impressive focus of Labour on constitutional reform since 1997, such a geological shift is not even a remote possibility. I noticed Cameron, also influenced by US events, suggested to Brown at PMQs that regular televised party leader debates be held during campaigns. His supporters cheered, thinking, no doubt, their boy would 'whup Gordon's ass' no problem; they are probably right as that Blair predicted 'great clunking fist' has seldom been used by the great lumbering Labour prime minister. Brown replied, predictably perhaps, that the US does not have weekly PMQs as we do, though the idea that the charade of PMQs provides anything approaching rational debate, is a sick joke.
Unlike many blogs - a good read.
Nice to see sensible comment.
Top site, well written!
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