Thursday, 15 April 2010

PR It's all just talk isn't it?

OK. I've held off from commenting on any political issues during the election up until now. But this week has seen a couple of things crop up that I just had to get off my chest.

The first was the launch of the Conservative manifesto on Tuesday. I don't want to comment on the entire pamphlet (Oh look. I just did), but I did note with interest their intention to give the public more opportunity to run things like parents running schools etc.

Two things sprung to mind. First, if we elect you Mr Cameron, isn't that what we are paying you for? Second, certainly as far as schools go, as a parent governor I feel adequately empowered in running my children's school as it is. In fact, I know how much work already goes into running the school as a volunteer. To get me to do more probably would entail paying me to do it and making me a professional. And we already have professional school managers. We call the headteachers. (OK, quite simplistic but you get the general idea). Strangely, it caused me to ring up my local radio station and they asked me to air my views. My first contribution to election broadcasting in 2010 (more about my previous election broadcasts in future posts).

The second thing that I heard was a piece on my local radio station about how much votes are worth. As a university professor he has calculated that a vote in one area of the country can be up to 200 times more effective than in another part of the country.

It all stems from the basis that a vote in a marginal constituency is worth more than one in a safe seat. In the North West of England for example There are 4 of the 5 safest seats in the country according to this statistician. Therefore, every vote in these constituencies are less significant than in a constituency just south of my own, and directly adjacent to two of the safest seats, where it is a key swing seat.

This assertion got me thinking about the whole electoral process. Needless to say, the expert claimed that to make everyone's vote more effective then we should have a form of proportional representation. All well and good, but in the European elections this has opened the door for some of the fringe parties. OK its a democracy and while we might not like what some of them say, we should accept their right to say it (unless it crosses clearly defined lines and who gets to define those lines? Can open. Worms everywhere).

But I was thinking, could the PR idea actually backfire. Let's just say that the two safe seats and the swing seat were amalgamated and three MP's were to be elected. Is there a possibility that the huge majority in the two safe seats would cancel out any votes from the swing constituency meaning the locals in that area would have little or no impact.

My constituency is a two horse race (although the expert seems to think it is safer than it used to be). Neither of the two potential winning candidates represent the party I would like in government. Should I vote for my chosen party, or the candidate who will keep out my least favoured option (which is called tactical voting but resembles the single transferable vote system).

Actually, looking at the three main candidates, the representative of my chosen party is someone who will at some point in the future be asked to stand for election in a safe seat elsewhere and has been parachuted in to give him some experience of elections. One of the other parties seems to have plenty of infighting locally and the candidate doesn't seem to have come out of that smelling of roses. The third candidate is the outgoing MP and, although he doesn't represent my chosen party, I think he has done well as a constituency MP. He has represented local issues well in parliament and has always been approachable as far as I am aware.

So I am fairly convinced of the benefits of having a local representative in parliament that you can vote for, but it seems that I don't like the political process of deciding who we get to chose from. Maybe we should keep the modern system with a small addition that we can also vote for an elected Prime Minister. Then everyone in the country would have a reason to vote as each and every vote would count towards who would be Prime Minister (non of this American electoral college rubbish, just the person with the most votes in the country wins). Whilst they are there they can vote for a representative for the local area (I know that this is still likely to be a political choice but it opens up the possibilities for ordinary gadgees like you or me could be elected to fight our own little corner of the world.

Shall I watch the leaders debate tonight. Actually there is a brand new DIY SOS special on. Nick and Julia might just get my vote.

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