We can't change the British Parliamentary System...
Britain's "first past the post" voting system could be scrapped if Labour wins the general election, under plans which have been outlined by Gordon Brown.
The prime minister wants a referendum on changing to an "alternative vote" system, where candidates are ranked in order of voters' preference.
Mr Brown also backed proposals by Labour MP Tony Wright to beef up the power of MPs to hold the government to account, with elected select committee chairmen and control of what is debated at Westminster handed to a backbench committee.
He said the government also backed e-petitions, which would allow members of the public to suggest topics for MPs to debate and said voters would get the right to recall MPs guilty of financial impropriety, where the House of Commons had refused to act.
I'm not a huge electoral reform guy, but a transferable vote seems reasonable. It's how we nominate candidates and pick party leaders. It's not overly complicated, and it adds a certain amount of legitimacy to the system, by ensuring MPs have majority support in their constituency.
We've seen Canadian voters reject an overhaul of the political system in referenda, but I think this more modest form of tinkering could have some appeal. After all, what's more Canadian than "modest tinkering"?
But, beyond the actual proposal, I think it's important to look at this in the context of what's actually going on in the UK. Brown's reform package is a direct response to a series of scandals that have caused the British people to lose faith in their politicians. Think of it as Brown's version of Harper's 2006 Accountability Act, which fed an appetite for reform here, following Adscam.
And if you look at the Canadian political scene these days, the picture is fairly bleak. I get the sense that most voters are just fed up with politics - the bickering, the pettiness, the scandal...that may in part explain the reaction to Harper's prorogation vacation.
So I think the appetite is once again there for someone to step in and really change the way we do politics. And hey, as luck would have it, the Liberals have a leader who isn't a career politician - so why not play that up, and put something constructive forward next election? Reform parliament, change our system...try to restore a little faith in democracy.
Maybe voters have become so cynical that they won't believe the promises anymore, but it's worth a shot.
Labels: Gordon Brown