Monday, 5 July 2010

Change to voting system.

Unless Cheryl Gillan agrees to a postponement* the next elections for the National Assembly will take place on 5 May 2011. But now Nick Clegg has suggested this very same day as decision time on the voting system for Westminster. Yes, we'll all be given a choice, stick with the current system  of voting in our MPs or change and adopt the Alternative Voting [AV] system.
If his other plans come to pass  we'll see a reduction in the actual number of Members of Parliament elected by fifty. Resulting in a House of Commons with 600 MPs.   If the planned referendum on the voting system comes about and a new fixed Parliament is agreed then the 600 will be returned in May 2015. A popular move, perhaps, less politicians is always an appealing prospect.
But should the referendum on the voting system for Westminster take place on the day that the Welsh general election takes place? There is a compelling reason for rejecting such an idea. Why? If Nick Clegg gets his other proposals through then new constituency boundaries will have to be drawn up for Westminster elections. These would have a knock on effect on the Assembly. Why, there would be different constituency boundaries in Wales for Westminster elections because there would be less Welsh MPs.
Sticking with the same boundaries as Westminster  would  reduce the numbers of Assembly Member selected on the constituency role. Resulting in less Assembly Members overall. Of course, the numbers elected on the regional lists could be increased if it was decided to stick with the current 60  AMs.
But if the Welsh Assembly becomes a proper legislative body with the powers to enact its own laws without Westminster interference might there not be a case for increasing its numbers slightly to deal with the enhanced work load.
Perhaps, then a new voting system might be appropriate. What could that be? Well, the Richard Commission recommended  the Single Transferable Vote [STV]. So why not put that to the people of Wales on the same day as their own elections. The Liberal Democrats could hardly object because that used to be their preferred option before they went into government in Westminster.
So the message to Mr Clegg,should be, 'keep your AV referendum for another day.'

* see last weeks blog 'All good things are worth a wait.'

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