Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Field's Manifesto for Democratizing Government

Jonathan Freedland directs attention to a pamphlet by Frank Field, the Labour MP with ideas which often span the party divide. This represents something of a manifesto of government reform which offers much food for thought; see also here for a summary.

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.

Mind you, it could be argued that the idea that televised debates in the states can be honestly described as "debates" is *also* a sick joke.
Can i just say - excellent site?

Unlike many blogs - a good read.

Nice to see sensible comment.

Top site, well written!
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?