Thursday, 14 July 2011

Peter Hain and Helen Mary Jones are both wrong.

I can help that Peter Hain is suffering from some kind of memory loss.After the referendum  on further Welsh powers for the Welsh assembly  powers  he swiftly claimed responsibility for the yes vote despite the fact that he had argued that a referendum “held before or in 2011 would be lost”.

He now despite being advocate for AV  for House of Commons elections before  May's referendum. now seems to think that the rejection of this leads to the natural assumption that that this could be translated automatically into support for first past the post for elections to the National Assembly.

On  Good Morning Wales he now argues that given that the number of Welsh Seats  will probably be reduced to 30 for Westminster Elections then the number of Constituencies for the Assembly should be reduced to similar number .

But this has already be dealt with in Scotland where there are 53 Westminster seats and 79 Scottish parliamentary seats . However Hain argues that
"As we've seen in Scotland, when you separate assembly seats from parliamentary seats, it creates a great deal of confusion for voters, for parties and for the wider public," said Neath MP Mr Hain.
"If that happened in Wales, you would be likely to have a situation where one assembly seat straddled three parliamentary seats, which leads to confusion for voters, political parties and their representatives.

Where his evidence of confusion in Scotland? he insults the intelligence of the Welsh electorate that they can't make a difference.

It is also possible that a difference in the shape of Scottish and Westminster constituencies make the responsibilities of elected members clearer to the constituents and people are not lobbying MP only to be told they should contact thier MSP and Vice Vesa

As his interview was on radio I couldn't see if he kept a straigh t face as he argued  that his proposal was not to give  Labour a clear political advantage but merely to the political system."neat and tidy"

Democracy is not "neat and tidy" when it comes to such issues and whrras we should make it eat for the electorate to follow. We should never underestimate their capacity to grasp the isues which polticians in thier arrogance think only are able to.

Unfortunately  Plaid's Helen Mary Jones didn't real help the debate, because whilst giving her preference  for STV .Argued on the same programme that in the event of the Westminster seats be reduced to 30 then this should be mirrored in the Assembly with a extra 30 additional "Top up seats"

What these two both miss is that whilst  this may be" Neat and Tidy" for the next few years parliamentary seats are not fixed and what they are unable to see what will happen  when the boundary commission decides that the number of Welsh Westminster seats are reduced  or increasedby a small factor  This would make the Assembly seats  somewhat untidy unless they are suggesting that the number of AM could increase  to 61 or reduce to 59 to correspond to Westminster changes,

And lets face it as the Assembly gain more and more powers then there will be a growing call to lighten their  workload  by increasing the number of AMs to probably 80.

Where will that leave the"Neat and Tidy set up?

But perhaps the biggest issue here is that another legislature in deciding how another elects its memberswhen  even Local Authorities s can decide to vary its rules to elect 1/3 elect members.

Both Peter Hain amd Helen Mary Jones should be campaigning for the running and method of elections to the Welsh Assembly to be transfered from Westminster to the Assembly. They should also have the foresight to realise that probably in 10 years rime we will be needing more that 60 AMs for the good governance of Wales if they truly want the Assembly to take on more powers more responsibility.

I don't want a Neat and Tidy electoral system I want one that adequately reflects the views of the electorate of our Nation.


  1. The 30/30 split - 30 FPTP and 30 PR.

    Is the 30 PR from a national list?

    Plaid, Tory and LD have to make sure Labour don't gerrymander this to create a gloryfied Mid Glam county council.

  2. Indeed, we need to move away from Westminster centric thinking for the National Assembly. Also given the rules on Westminster constituencies we would see boundary changes every election. If anything is going to make people confused this will, as Assembly elections are held out of step with Westminster ones then you will have different constituency boundaries for the National Assembly and for Westminster after each election! Yes they will coincide - until the next Westminster election and then they will diverge until the next Assembly election, then the alterations change again.

    We all know that the current set up is temporary as currently the fptp constituencies for the National Assembly are frozen - with no current way of altering the boundaries.

    So we have choices. Periodic reviews of the Assembly constituency boundaries to roughly equalise the seats but keep them at 40 - say every 10 years.

    Or we could adopt the suggestion of Helen Mary and have changes every election following Westmister reorganisation (with the problem you have noted that the number of Westminster constituencies in Wales can alter).

    Of we could go for the Richard Commission proposal and go for STV with multi member constituencies.

    My money is on STV as being the one that would bring the most stability.

  3. Anonymous.

    I don't know whether the idea is to increase the regional losy to 6 seats or to have an all Wales list (probably the former).
    I agree with Cibwr STV is the best alternative and would also say that its time for an all Wales campaign for STV for the Assembly.