Friday, June 21, 2013

Qualifications to Vote


 All British citizens, Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Irish Republic who are resident in the United Kingdom and over the age of eighteen are eligible to vote.   In addition citizens of those countries which are members of the European Union and are over the age of eighteen are eligible to vote in local government elections and elections to the European Parliament.   All voters have to be registered and their name appears on the Register of Electors.
In 1948 Eire declared itself a Republic and left the Commonwealth.   British reaction to the setting up of the Republic and the challenge to British sovereignty in Ulster took the form of a political initiative.   British nationality laws were altered; and although the Republic had left the Commonwealth and her citizens were no longer British, they were not classed as foreigners.   As Herbert Morrison humorously assured Parliament: “Indeed the Republic of Ireland does not want to be in the Commonwealth but it does not want to be foreign.   It is, as far as I know, quite sincere on both points.”
There are over 400,000 citizens of the Republic of Ireland registered in the United Kingdom that have the right to vote in a General Election.    They are not evenly spread over all the constituencies.   There are concentrations of Irish voters in Liverpool, Glasgow and Camden Town in London.   Where there are concentrations they can clearly influence the decision of the electorate.   This cannot be right.

It is one of the extraordinary anomalies of democracy in the United Kingdom that the citizens of a foreign country, that have no allegiance to the United Kingdom are allowed to vote in elections in the United Kingdom and in so doing determine who shall govern the United Kingdom. 

Only United Kingdom citizens should be allowed to vote in United Kingdom Parliamentary elections.    

Friday, June 14, 2013

Three Member Seats at Westminster

Prior to 1884 all constituencies consisted of two or three MPs.   We could have 150 constituencies each with three MPs.   This would have a number of advantages.
        To those MPs with a strong feeling for tradition we could go back to the electoral system prior to single member constituencies.   For six hundred years constituencies consisted of two, three, or even four member seats.   If we were to opt for three member seats throughout the United Kingdom this would introduce an element of proportionality into our electoral system.   Electors would be able to split their votes between different parties.   This would introduce an element of competition between members of the same party.   It would give voters a real choice.   It would also reduce the power of the parties.   It was in order to strengthen the power of the parties which led to the single member constituencies in the first place.   It is time for the pendulum to swing back the other way.
        There is a general recognition that as a result of legislation now being produced by the European Union and other legislation devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Assemblies in Northern Ireland and Wales there are too many MPs at Westminster.   The number should be reduced to 450.   If this reduction were to take place there would be a golden opportunity to reform the whole system at the same time.
                Why is it that in a world where people are used to shopping around, telephones and electricity have been made competitive, there was still a single supplier of representative services.   In an environment where consumer choice is the dominant force, and people increasingly look at politics as consumers, why not have multi-member constituencies?
                Competition and choice improve standards. Lazy MPs, or those who did not represent the views of their constituents properly, would face internal competition, and there would be fewer barriers to new talent and new ideas coming forward.   Almost certainly there would be an increase in the number of women in Parliament.   If electors could choose from different candidates from within a political Party Parliament would become more representative of the people.   The system would be more proportional.

                The House of Commons should consist of 150 three member constituencies.