Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Changing Boundaries Changing Democracy

Cheryl Gillian The Secretary of State for Wales ( but not much longer I suspect)  yesterday published a Green Paper on 'Future Electoral Arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales'. Its a 12 weeks 'consultation paper'. 

For a consultation it is like Hobson Choice because only one solution to the future of Welsh Elections is given.

1: The Proposals are That the National Assembly should continue to have 60 members.
Despite the fact that it will undoubtedly take on more powers in the next decade. This would with the other proposals fix the number of Am's irrespective of any increase in Workload of AM's.

2: That the Assembly electoral boundaries should be changed to allow for 30 rather than 40 Assembly constituencies, coterminous with the new constituencies being introduced for the House of Commons. Or if the decision is to retain the current 40 constituencies, the boundaries should be adjusted to equalise the number of voters within each constituency.

The 1st part makes the assumption that the number of Welsh Seats will be fixed for decades and the second looks like a nightmare as in the Westminster proposals people will be lumped together just to make up an number irrespective of any identification.

3) That the ban on candidates standing for a constituency and also taking a place on the 'regional list' should be removed.

I agree with this but if there is a 30/30 split then almost all the leaders of the Parties Will chose the regional option realising that being on top of a list of 6 for a region will ensure their election and that they would not have to nurse a potentially marginal constituency but concentrate on their Assembly profile .

4: That Assembly members should cease to be allowed to sit in The House of Commons or The second Chamber.

This has some merit; But why should this apply to Wales alone? and not Scotland and Northern Ireland  . The Spanish Second Chamber has 264 members . 208 directly elected and 56 appointed by the assemblies of the autonomous regions. Perhaps this should be considered along with Lords reform?

Since Labour are the Party who have most to lose from this. They (despite Pater Hain) are opposed arguing that such decisions should be made in Wales. Though they seemed quite happy with Westminster changing the rules on standing for a constituency and also taking a place on the 'regional list' . When they were in power there.

Plaid Jonathan Edwards although making it clear he supported STV made a similar proposal to Cheryl Gillian last year something that might haunt him when the issue is debated and the Liberal Democrats will probably go along as at the moment regional seats are their future. Though theylike Plaid wil make a half-hearted  case for STV.

So we have a consultation paper which gives us very little choice and clearly with the argument that there should be boundary changes even if we remain with 40 Constituency seats.

Once again the future Democracy of Welsh Government will be decided at Westminster with a token consultation period where those who support a greater form of proportional representation will be ignored.

This would never happen in Scotland and Northern Ireland and shows once again the contempt that Westminster holds for the people of Wales and that when they accept devolution of power to Scotland and Northern Ireland they still feel that somehow Wales don't deserve it.

Update 12:00Pm

Subordinate Central has quoted La Pasionaria as saying.

“We broadly welcome the UK Government’s proposals to protect, and possibly increase, the proportional element and fairness of our voting system. Welsh Liberal Democrats have long argued for a fully proportionate system of voting but given the current political situation we believe that any step to make our National Assembly more democratic and accountable is welcome.

So that's we are going to have to accept this and we won'y be rocking any boat by arguing for STV or by upseting Labour too much as we look to be their coalition partners.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At the moment I'd prefere Welsh democracy to be decided at Westminster than Cardiff Bay. There's no point Carwyn Jones and Labour complaining that Gillan has no mandate in Wales. Labour had 13 years to shift the mandate to Wales and could have included this kind of issue in the Referendum last year. They chose not to. Their fault.

Your right, we should go up to 80 AMs - or at least make that effortlessly possible. As for the voting then there's no way we can have 2 members for each constituency. That'll give Labour a thumping majority will less than half the vote.

At the moment the 30/30 split is the most sensible and fair for all. It could mean a seat for UKIP or the Greens. Well so be it - good, those views need to be respected at the Assembly.

I hope to god Plaid don't get all clever and stifle this. Go for STV, go for 80 seats. But when push comes to shove, stick to 30 FPTP and 30 List.