Lords reform: The voting system question: An Open Letter to Nick Clegg
To the Rt. Hon Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister:
I am delighted to see that you are proceeding with Lords reform. We Britons have been awaiting this for over a century. It is vital to our being (becoming) a democratic country.
But: Lords reform might be severely hampered if it is perceived to be bringing in a variation of the very system that the British electorate has just voted down. This makes AV-Plus or STV (which is simply AV in multi-member constituencies) extremely undesirable as potential methods for use in elections to the upper house. See my recent piece here explaining this: http://www.libdemvoice.org/the-independent-view-how-to-implement-full-lords-reform-now-that-the-referendum-is-lost-24070.html .
So I was dismayed to see that you are contemplating...STV as your preferred method. This is inviting contempt from the media, the public, and from the Lords themselves!: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/11/plans-reform-house-of-lords
This is not just a techy or dweeby point. Picking the wrong voting system for Lords reform could kill it. All the opponents of reform are looking for is an excuse. Don't offer them one!
As I argue in my piece on LibDemVoice, surely instead we have to look either to AMS (e.g. in the Scots version, or better still in the classic '1 vote' version that is Green Party policy: where you simply have a large-enough top-up to ensure proportionality) or to a fully list-based PR-system. The worry that the latter would lead to Party-domination can be countered by having open lists.
If you agree with this, I hope you may act swiftly on it. I don't want us all to have to wait another 100 years to reform the upper house, just because of a poor choice of voting system for electing it with... If the White Paper goes forward with STV as its preferred choice, it will not be long before opponents of Lords reform cotton on and denounce the bill as simply a deceptive retread of the referendum.
I hope that you will seriously consider this point. And while you are at it, check out my idea for a radical addition to your plan of democratising the Lords, here: http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-proposal-for-green-future-how-house.html
Best wishes for success in this hugely-important project;
Dr. Rupert Read, Eastern Region Green Party Co-ordinator.