Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The excitement of 'decoupling'

There are always vogue words. It's difficult to have a conversation with a person of a certain generation without 'cool' acting as a stop or exclamation mark. Just as every dog has its day so also certain words.A word who's day has come, 'decoupling'. Now I grant you it won't have the same reach as 'cool' but it will certainly be on the lips of Welsh politicians and their camp followers.
No, its not going to be used in a sexual context or even to talk about the break up of a coalition government.
Its the term that will be used to say simply that constituency boundaries for National Assembly elections should be different to those for the Westminster parliament.
Now the reason that this is likely to come up is simple, the Westminster government want to cut down on the number of MPs. They are proposing six hundred. At the same time they want each Member to be elected in a constituency with a similar number of electors. So new boundaries will have to be drawn for Westminster constituencies. Wales is currently over represented so under these new rules there will be about ten less of them sent to represent us to Westminster.
Now the problem is that the National Assemble elects forty of its sixty members on similar constituency boundaries. So without some changes the total number of Assembly members would also be reduced by   ten.
Most commentators agree that  even  with their current workload the Assembly would struggle with only fifty members. Should they get full law making powers then it would be difficult or even impossible to make the system work
Hence the word 'decoupling' - a different system  and boundaries for Assembly elections to that of Westminster.
Nothing will excite politicians more than the prospect of decoupling in the next few years. The Assembly responsible for deciding its own electoral system, I can just see them salivating now.

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