Political reform starts at home

Forget the current obsession with reforming the EU, reform of our domestic political institutions is far more important says Steve Beauchampé.

Since the European elections and the relative success of UKIP, politicians of all persuasions have eagerly joined the call for EU reform. Given that the vast majority of primary law, rules and regulations are determined in the UK, addressing the glaring democratic deficits of Britain’s political institutions, infrastructure and practices is far more important and relevant to our daily lives. Precisely how such reform is to be achieved should be part of a vital and ongoing public discourse yet regrettably it doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s agenda.

Here then are some items that should be part of any reform agenda:

Introduce a system of proportional representation at local and national elections, giving a result that more accurately reflects public opinion. At the 2010 General Election this would have resulted in a House of Commons of approximately, 235 Conservative MPs, 189 Labour MPs and 150 Liberal Democrat MP, resulting in a very different balance of power within the coalition.

Scrap the unelected House of Lords and replace it with an elected, accountable second chamber.

Decentralise government by devolving large swathes of power to local and regional government. Britain is amongst the most centralised countries in the world, with an enormous economic, political and cultural imbalance between London and the other regions.

Build a House of Commons chamber fit for purpose, with every MP having a seat and a desk from which they can work, as happens in both the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. Then turn the current Commons and Lords chambers into tourist attractions.

Address the fact that between 15%-20% of eligible adults in the UK are not registered to vote.

Hold local and national elections at weekends, as is widely the case overseas.

One thought on “Political reform starts at home

  1. Didn’t the people speak on proportional representation and reject it? “Subsequently, on 5th May 2011 an election was held on the voting system used to elect MPs to the House of Commons. In the event the electorate decided by a substantial majority to reject the proposal to change from the ‘first past the post’ system to the AV system.” So that didn’t work. http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/electoral-reform-and-voting-systems

    Yes – Scrap the HoL and elect members without political affiliations so that laws are debated on merit rather than political point scoring.

    Decentralise government is a good idea and that leads on to a HoC fit for purpose – A new one should be built in, ooooh let’s say Birmingham, along the lines you describe – with a reduced number of MPs – and hand the old buildings over the National Trust who could then maintain them properly. The Queen – or whatever – could still open Parliament in the old buildings as that’s good for the tourist trade.

    More should be done to teach young adults the benefits of actually voting instead of bleating.

    Holding elections at weekends is a good idea. Postal voting, except in particular circumstances is a bad idea. As is the idea of voting on-line.

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