And at the use of the phrase ‘interesting amendment in the House of Commons’, half of you have fallen asleep. The other half are barely keeping awake…and will now slumber too when I announce that it concerns electoral systems.
But if you are still awake and alert, this is interesting – Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski has tabled an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill that would remove almost all non-First Past The Post elections in the UK. (You can see the amendment here – just scroll down a little to get to Kawczynski’s amendment) In the unlikely event of his amendment becoming law, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly, European Parliament, English mayoral* and Scottish local government elections would all be conducted under First Past The Post – and the Boundary Commissions would suddenly find themselves with a huge amount of extra work drawing up new constituency boundaries outside England.
Leaving aside the huge political firestorm that would be created when the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly discover their voting systems have been changed from above (Kawczynski’s amendment puts the power to approve new boundaries into the hands of the Secretaries of State rather than the First Ministers), think about what the effects would be on Northern Ireland.
What Kawczynski is proposing is for Northern Ireland to return to the era of the gerrymander, when the Unionists were able to use their majority control to rewrite boundaries to suit them and limit the number of nationalists who get elected. Even without any gerrymandering, how much political diversity would there be within the two sides under a FPTP system, when the system would be actively encouraging voters to flock to whichever party had just a slight advantage for their side to avoid splitting the vote and letting someone from the other side in. If the current situation in Stormont is bad, imagine how it would be if there was no meaning electoral opposition within their communities to the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Kawczynski is a backbencher and his amendments don’t seem to be reflecting anyone’s views but his own, but it would be interesting to find out just what David Cameron’s views on his proposals are. Of course, it would be interesting to find out what Cameron’s views are on many issues…
* The Mayor of London (and the London Assembly) might be the only elections spared from Kawczynski’s hammer, as he doesn’t seek to amend the 1999 Greater London Authority Act.