Thursday, July 21, 2005

Davis On Disenfranchisement

DD was interviewed on BBC R4 Today this morning, telling us he didn't vote yesterday because it was 'inappropriate' in his position: 'a bit like a footballer going onto the pitch and saying I'll have the rules changed please.'

He said he had 'some sympathy' with members who are arguing for continuing the present system, but recognised the problem with the eventual winner only likely to have achieved approximately one-third support among MPs. As we saw with IDS, this can lead to a less 'stable outcome'.

'Another way of doing this- and frankly the one I might have preferred- would be just to reverse the sequence: to have the party in the country come first, and then the party in Parliament come second. Or have an electoral college. But those options weren't available.'

Personally, as an ordinary member, I'd prefer to stick to the current system. But we all have to recognise that does put a huge onus on MPs to come up with that shortlist of two, 'either of whom they'd be happy to work with'. Which was the original Archie Norman plan, as I recall.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that was never very likely, because MPs are...well, let's face it, they're politicians. Their entire lives are governed by infighting that we on the touchlines can only gawp at in disbelief (eg that whoop of joy Doris K let out in 2001 when she heard Miguel hadn't made the final cut: made Lee Bowyer look like an amateur).

So reluctantly, down here in the real world, I conclude that Davis is right. What we should really be going for is either reversing the voting order, or an electoral college (say 60/40 MPs/Party).

But what we must not lose, under any circumstances, is our right to a formal vote. As John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy also said on Today, the proposed 'member consultations' would be 'a charade'. In fact he splendidly described the whole deal as 'a squalid and miserable little proposal.'
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