Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the tag “First Past the Post”

Can a General Election Trump a Referendum?

“We will vote in Parliament to block any attempt to invoke Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever EU exit deal emerges at the end of the process.”
BBC News Website, 24 August 2016 | Brexit: Owen Smith opposes Article 50 move without vote

It is arguable that we (“the people”) should have some sort of final say – particularly since it is becoming clear that “Brexit means Brexit” could be many different things – some of which will strike the Quitters as “betrayal”. In this context Owen Smith’s position raises an interesting and potentially disturbing question:

Can a party winning a general election with say 36% of the vote claim a mandate to over-ride a referendum that voted 52% in favour of a particular proposition? And if it can’t, where would Prime Minister Owen Smith then stand?

Read more…


The Crisis of Indirect Democracy and its Consequences

Indirect democracy is a fragile child. In effect we say we (“democratically”) elect representatives to a body that then “does governing for us”. This is in stark contrast to direct democracy – which in its most extreme state has everybody having a vote on everything.

Parliaments should be shining examples of indirect democracy at work. They consist of “representatives”, not mandated delegates, who collectively form a body that should be recognised as “representative”. Their legitimacy depends, I believe, on three factors.

  • Whether elections to the parliament are recognised as “free and fair”
  • Whether the resulting parliament is recognised as “representative”
  • Whether the parliament through its collective actions and the actions of its members retains the “respect of the people”.

In the UK, I think we are, to a degree, failing on all three of the above. Read more…

Stifling Political Diversity

The acting leader of the Labour Party is a great believer in diversity – even if she does not stray much beyond the dimension of gender.

It has struck me however that the Labour Leadership Election is a major exercise in reducing the diversity of political opinion that is to be offered to the British electorate. It seems that we can be offered Socialism or “Modern Labour” but not both. Which is a shame.

Read more…

Rats in a Sack (and not understanding AV!)

The Cooper and Burnham camps have traded blows over their views on Mr Corbyn and their place in the contest.

A spokesman for the former said on Monday that Mr Burnham should “step back and leave it to Yvette” if he could not provide an alternative to Mr Corbyn
BBC News Website 18 August 2015 : Labour leadership: Burnham criticises Cooper call to quit

Apart from being unedifying, it also shows a remarkable disrespect for the electorate and misunderstanding of the benefits of AV. Read more…

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,”

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Mr Hislop told them.
BBC News Website 12 March 2015 : Hislop says private-state school gap widening (answering questions from Schoolchildren.)

I could accept this slogan if I had a vote that had any effect. But we have a problem in that most of us are in constituencies where our vote is not going to make the slightest difference. It’s a similar situation with the slogan,

People fought and died for the vote; you have an obligation to use yours.

I don’t buy this either – but mean no disrespect to those who fought for a wider suffrage. The problem is the fight is nowhere near finished.

So, what’s to be done – in general and in May 2015? Read more…

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