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POWER 2010 and Conservative Policy

POWER 2010 must be pleased with themselves, as the 4th highest rated idea in its campaign so far is one which is not unlikely to make it into law, as it is something the Conservatives were considering back in 2007.

The idea is “English Votes on English Laws” and it dredges up the decade-old West Lothian question, which has proved unsolvable so far, though Labour have actually attempted solving it, contrary to the popular opinion conspiracy theory that they haven’t because they’re held to ransom by Scottish MPs. However, the regional assemblies referendum failed, meaning that England is as of yet left relatively untouched by Devolution, the GLA aside.

The POWER 2010 solution is astonishingly poor quality, something it shares in common with the Conservative from 2007. It is essentially the same — that Scottish and Welsh MPs should be forbidden from voting on “English” policy. Allow me to describe the number of ways in which the policy wouldn’t work:

a) As Ken Clarke himself recognised when talking about the policy proposals to come out a few years ago, you can’t attach this solution to committee level, where policies that effect England probably take place in nearly every committee. So Clarke recognises the divisive nature of the policy before the analysis has even properly started, something that makes it unlikely to be a good solution on any level.

b) Before you even think of forbidding Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MPs from voting on English matters, you have to formalise devolution and turn it into federalism, to recognise the devolved powers constitutionally. This could prove more tricky than many people might think, particularly in Northern Ireland.

c) The second argument provided in favour of the policy on the POWER 2010 campaign is that “It gives the English nation a political voice at the national level, which at the moment it lacks.” This is nonsense. The English would still have one voice, whilst the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish would have two. Enforcing new regulations about the voting rigths of MPs from these countries doesn’t change that fact. If you want to give the English nation a political voice at the national level, you need devolve power to England separately.

d) Now we get into the constitutional absurdities that are attached to this sort of solution. Imagine a government which achieved its majority through Welsh and Scottish MPs, but an opposition which had a majority among English MPs. This would demonstrate how shallow a solution the idea really is — you wouldn’t have two governments, one for England, one for the UK, after all. You would still have one government, but English policy would become a no-go area, for fear of the opposition dictating policy to the government. This would not be good for national unity.

I really had hoped that the consultation process that POWER 2010 held would have achieved better refinements than this. At the end of the day, the only real way to achieve equality in democratic status between the constituent nations is to have equal devolved settlements. This means either an English Parliament, or regional assemblies, or even more local reclaiming of power. But it does seem a point worth making that devolution was never a policy designed with the intention of being an equal settlement. It was meant to redress what was viewed as a skewed balance of power between the constituent countries of the Union — an effect caused by England’s dominance, at least partly exacerbated by the majoritarian system of election. Given this, I personally think there are more pressing reforms to consider.


Open Up, round II

Open Up has a new post:

The Chief Whips send out weekly circulars to “their” MPs notifying them of parliamentary business. The circulars use a code involving underlining. If a vote is underlined once, the Whip considers it routine, and attendance is “optional”. Items underlined twice are more important: attendance is required, unless that MP can organise someone from the opposing party to be absent as well, (a bit more like musical chairs than democracy). Any vote underlined three times means that failure to attend, and vote with the party, will result in disciplinary action. What disciplinary action usually means is expulsion from the party, at least temporarily.

…Open Up dearly need to speak to some MPs who have defied a three-line whip — such as, say, Tom Harris. To claim that the immediate response to a defiance of a three-line whip is temporary expulsion from the party is nonsense. It can happen, but it’s dependent on many other factors — only when party leaders are at the end of their tether, such as in John Major’s case over Maastricht, will they even want to consider it, as it could breed some pretty dangerous rebels.

Open Up go on to state:

Because parties, not constituents, choose who gets to stand in elections, this effectively puts that MP on notice that he or she may well lose their job at the next General Election.

…which leads on, as you might have guessed, to their favourite hobby horse, Open Primaries:

What has this got to do with Open Primaries? Well, right now party Whips can dominate MPs, because it is political parties who chose whether an MP gets selected or not. If voters got to choose who got selected, the Whips’ power would be substantially diminished.

…except, as you might have guessed, there is more to it than this. Parties generally tend to treat their MPs from marginal constituencies a little more better, as they’re aware of the damage that could potentially be caused to their standing in the constituency by a row between party leadership and their representative. Parties also tend to treat established names (a long-standing representative) better, so they in practice get away with more (I seriously doubt CCHQ thought of seriously disciplining Ken Clarke when he rebelled over their Lisbon policy prior to entering the Shadow Cabinet, because of his long-standing status within the party). So the problem is, in fact, mainly disparity between the way different MPs are treated as mcuh as it is anything to do with party selection.

Even if primaries were introduced, the chances are that it wouldn’t fix this. As an early episode of The West Wing showed, primaries mean that candidates are just as likely, if not more, to need publicity support in their campaigns from the leadership. Primaries also undeniably mean, for the United States, the campaigns have to be longer, more exensive and more time-consuming. This means that, actually, candidates are not actually less reliant upon campaign support, but more. The difference is merely that instead of being reliant upon the local party, they are reliant upon big funding, and have no way around that, even if the party might wish to sponser candidates unable to attract this sort of investment. I’ll leave you to decide which is the better scenario.

Open Up are quite right that party selection, and whipping, are a problem. But they’re a problem primarily because of the existence of many safe seats, and the difficulty of swings against an incumbent achieving meaningful status because of the risk of splitting the vote. If Open Up wish to achieve long-term improvement, they should target the existing inequities in the electoral system, not strive to add new ones.

A citizens’ convention is the last thing we need.

I’ve been following the ever-ongoing debate over constitutional reform in recent weeks, and one thing has struck me very strongly, is that despite a whole load of interesting and diverse ideas, advocates of reform seem to be susceptible to one idea in particular, one that strikes me as going against the history of successful British constitutional reform, particularly that of the last decade. It is the suggestion that an “anti-politics” citizens’ convention would be the most progressive means of drawing up root and branch constitutional reform.

Leaving aside the loaded term “root and branch” for one moment, which most campaigners seem to think signifies a positive, meaningful approach to reform (despite the fact that careful, small c conservative reforms have in general been very successful over the last decade), one wonders why reformers think this is so guaranteed to deliver a consensual, widely-approaved set of rules. It is possibly due to the fallacy the left in particular are prone to, in thinking that if you split society up into demographic focus groups then it offers a fool-proof way of assessing the views of wider society, but it also seems to strike a very definite “anti-politics” note, encouraged by the quite ridiculous blow-up over the expenses scandal.

Now, it is perfectly acceptable to state that the Expenses scandal was wrong. It was wrong with a capital W, but the way it has been drawn out and exaggerated has very much to do with media market dynamics, and very little to do with serious politics. Just as welfare dependency stories are a money spinner for the tabloids (and unfortunately the broadsheets all too often), despite the stasticial insignificance of the amount of public money wasted, as well as the injustice when compared to wider social injustice; so the expenses scandal is a footnote compared to the wider flaws of our political system. This is why, in the saner circles of the left, the topic quickly shifted to constitutional reform, despite such a topic being almost wholly unrelated to expenses rules.

But due to such a shift, some people have got the two confused. Some have gone so far as to state that the expenses scandal has been as severe a crisis in politics as that which resulted in the Glorious revolution, or the civil war. This is arrant nonsense. What has happened is the same as regularly happens from time to time in all democracies, save the unusual aspect of this having been a scandal of parliamentary politics, rather than executive politics. The media has seized on a distasteful story that, to our dislike, reminds us that politicians are as prone to failure as the rest of us, and that given their privileged status have exploited it in ways rather more than the rest of us could hope for ourselves, and as a result it has been extremely profitable for the media, and extremely juicy for us. I cannot say that I myself have not been amused and satisfied by the chance to pontificate on a scandal as delicious as this one, and looking at the reaction of the wider public, I hope I will be forgiven for saying that many seem to have gained even more enjoyment out of it than me.

The truth is, people like to pontificate, and they like to be outraged. They like an outlet, both for their anger and for their desire for more interesting things, and the expenses scandal provided both. Comparing this to the establishment of the constitutional monarchy, or the constitutional upheaval caused by the civil war and re-establishment of the monarchy, is quite simply fatuous. And it has to stop, because common sense shows that a convention should only be needed if there is no other choice.

If a convention were established, I can forsee one of two directions it could take:

Firstly, it could become like the glorified independent review. It would deliberate, it would fall off the sheets of the papers after a couple of interesting weeks, only to reappear suddenly when people had almost forgotten of its existence. The grand pronouncements would then turn into political football with the established chambers for debating and politics, the House of Commons, which would turn into a grand stalemate that lost the interest of both the public and the media. Come the general election, the far more interesting question of who should form the next government would spring up, and the convention would be kicked into the long grasses.

Alternative, the convention could actually be given real powers, and parliament prorogued. Then what could happen could be even more alarming: the convention might start believing that it was actually qualified to draw up a new constitution within a few months, look all over the world for inspiration, draw up a marvellous constitutional curry, and serve it to the electorate and head of state convinced of its brilliance. The public would then be excited by the new political system for a year or two, until the novelty had worn off, at which time the media would dig around for another juicy scandal (pork barrel politics, this time?), find it, dig into it with relish and we would start moaning about the fact that our political system was broken again.

Here is the thing: our political system is imperfect, but it sure as hell isn’t broken — yet. Start treating it as something which can be ripped down and redesigned at the click of a convention’s fingers and it sure as hell might become more unstable. The British constitution might be uncodified, and as barmy as The Unspoken Constitution suggests, but the fact remains the it works in as much as the people are still engaged in it. This means that trying to establish a glorious “anti-Parliament” to do the work of constitutional reform for us, instead of using the existing political institutions, simply goes against the grain of common sense.

Why does the idea of a citizens’ convention sound so wonderful? Because we, the public, as a general whole never make mistakes? Because we’re far more in touch with each other’s reality than our political masters? David Wilshire might not know the minimum wage, but the public sure as hell don’t know the average wage, according to surveys done in the summer. People might be in touch with their own realities — though there’s no guaranteeing of that — but they sure as hell aren’t going to be any more in touch with others’ than politicans are.

If you look at the Philadelphia convention, who drew up the world-famous US constitution, though some were undeniably forefigures of the very real fight for independence, they were hardly a cross-representative sample of the unwashed masses. Despite drafting what is considered one of the finest codified constitutions in the western world, there are still plenty of flaws to be found within it. There is no evidence to suggest that selecting a convention by lot would lead to anything anywhere near as fine being drawn up, and plenty to suggest it could be a disaster. If we are to get true reform, it must unite as many factions of the public, including the “political class”, as possible. Arguing for a lot-selected convention, at a time when it is not necessary and would be unnecessarily costly in a time of recession, is only going to add to those who fail to take the question of constitutional reform seriously.

Phil Collins and the latest column response

I should really keep a notebook of all the fatuous columns in the Times that I respond to — or try to, and definitely wish to — on this blog. Perhaps that way I could find it easier to filter out the dross and not be bothered by it.

Phil Collins, writing with apparent authority in the Times, states that “It doesn’t matter what age your child starts school“. Now, that may not sound all that fatuous to you, and indeed I’m inclined to agree with his view that children don’t really need to start school full-time until 7 (though whether their parents need them to is another matter); though Collins probably misrepresents the Swedish system, where there is probably a reasonable transition between pre-school and school, to the extent that it isn’t as dissimilar to our system as many make out.

But the subtitle is “Your genes are more important than education”, and here the fatuousness becomes a bit more apparent. I’m not sure where Phil Collins gets his scientific backing for such a confident statement, and one that would appear to go against the grain of real-life evidence, but he doesn’t cite to it in the text, so obviously it isn’t all that important. Even if there were a general link, however, to suggest this, Collins would still be wrong, because the real world is stuffed plain to see with exceptions.

Such as myself. Primary school washed over me, and believe me that you need to experience that to realise that primary school does teach you something. In my case, it taught me to read, write and add up to a reasonable extent, but that was the bare basics. I tended to daydream in tests, and lose concentration, which means that even if I had had a stunningly high IQ despite failing to learn most information that wasn’t contained in a work of fiction, I probably wouldn’t have passed an IQ-based common entrance exam. This may have been down to mild Aspergers syndrome, it may have been something else, it may just have been developmental issues. Ultimately, I don’t know, but what I do know is that if I hadn’t been fortunate enough to secure a place in a semi-independent music school, my academic future might have been far less pleasant.

Certainly, if I’d been tested for either a Grammar school, or to see whether I was University-capable, at that age, I would have probably come out negative. So would John Prescott, who managed to go to University despite failing the common entrance. So would many people with dyslexia, discalclia and dispraxia whose problems are overlooked by the education system (and it does happen, just as much as the many people who are allegedly wrongly diagnosed). In fact, so would all the people who failed to get anything out of their education because of bad circumstances in their background and development, which inhibited their true skills. There’s a reason education is such a long process, and why we don’t start selecting at the young age we used to; and that is that all the evidence shows that it was a policy which didn’t work, and led to many talented people slipping through the net.

This isn’t to say that the comprehensive system is necessarily working best, either, and that there isn’t scope and potential for selection within education. But rigid selection, with an “in-or-out” attitude is bound to fail, because schools aren’t perfect, and they never will be. It’s bound to treat the pupil harshly, as if they’re a commodity that can be analysed in simple terms at the age of 11. And so attempting to draw from age someone starts school not mattering that half of their years in education do not matter, and that ‘genes’ are the more important factor is just plain wrong.

It’s impossible to assess exactly what the makeup and implications of a person’s ‘genes’ are anyway, which adds to the fatuousness. But at the end of the day, what was the point of the provocation? Nothing, it would seem — the valuable content of that column could be summed up in a couple of sentences, if not less. Collins attempts to twist a perfeclty sensible idea in nonsensical ways — and it ends up shooting him in the foot, anyway, as would be patently obvious to most readers that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and fails to back up his attempts to stir controversy. The Times should feature better content than this.

Free Markets and Property Rights 2: Education, Society and Government

Having now demonstrated the need for government within a Free Market Society, the inherent conflict between absolute property rights and free markets, and the self-terminating and self-contradictory nature of both concepts in the previous article; I now feel it might be entertaining to move on to an area of more practical policy: education.

The liberating potential of a free market might be argued to depend in no small way upon education. By education, one should assume for the rest of my note in no small way that I do not merely mean education of the academic, schools kind, but of the whole variety of skills and training that exist in addition to compulsory education.

After all, education is everything. If you have no education, you can only apply skills that are self-taught (which would most usually take far more time and effort than having the benefit of someone’s help and expertise) or find work that requires little to no skills. It seems obvious, then, that the breadth of one’s education influences to no small extent the liberting potential of the free market grants.

What also seems obvious is that it influences the playing field. For the free market to be free, remember, there can be no ability for established interests to receive an inherent advantage — the point of the free market is, after all, to work entirely on the basis of free competition and trade. However, if only the wealthy have purchasing power of a comprehensive (in the true meaning of the word, as opposed to the political meaning) education, this clearly constitutes a starting advantage for a set of established interests, which goes against the principle at the heart of a free market.

This is, at heart, the most basic objection to the idea of government only intervening to protect property rights and freedom of trade and competition, however, there are others.

Firstly, one has to ask the question as to what makes a government stable. In a debate I have had over the pros and cons of the idea of meritocracy, my most basic objection was that it restricts the base of those influencing government to an inherently unstable leve, where the power is disproportionately concentrated to a set number of people, and therefore no incentive exists to help those outside of this set of people, which contributes to the creation of a social divide.

Though democracy is an inherently more stable concept, as everyone has a certain amount of influence upon government, there are still far more considerations than merely the voting base. There is wealth, which we have gone over in the previous analysis, too great a disproportion in the distribution of which, or too great the scope of purchasing power, resulting in the domination of government by the minority that holds such power. As we have seen, however, education helps to further entrench this imbalance of market power: which would mean that not only would a social divide exist due to an unequal distribution of social power, but all the tools would exist to cement its existance. Or in other words; Disraeli’s “two nations”.

The consequences of this could be considerable, in either direction. Firstly, the privileged section of society might feel a need to protect itself further from the perpetually disadvantaged section of society, and influence government to this end, leading to the re-establishment of a more formal class system, and thus an end to the free market. Secondly, the disadvantaged section of society might get discontent enough to the extent of either revolution, or forcing through radical socail change: which would again mean an end to the existence of an entirely free market.

Of course there is an obvious solution to this: public education policy. The very mention of this idea as necessary to the sustaining of a free market would be enough to make the ears of the APRFM school turn collectively (and individually, of course) green, but we have another classic conundrum here: stick to only private supply of education, and the market is undermined by established interests and the development of a class system, and society becomes so divided as to undermine the legitimacy of both government and economic system. Have a public education policy, though, and you acknowledge the limitations of the market and violate the property rights of some for the benefit of others.

So, at the end of the day, we see that the market is not really absolutely free or absolutely liberating either way, whether APRFM were to get their way or not. So sensibly, things boil down to what’s best for people collectively, or “what’s best for society”. Who’dathunkit? There’s more to society than the free market and property rights?

In defence of Anarchism

As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of Anarchism. I consider it either to be vulgar, immature right-wing politics for those who want to be anti-establishment without donning a Che Guevara T-shirt, or hopelessly deluded left-wing politics for those who have a hopelessly utopian vision of fundamental human motivations. I’m happy to have a go at either trend, but if you asked me which one I thought was the true definition of anarchism, I would immediately give the former; for I think that in reality, Anarchism would be the wet nightmare of right-wing politics that not even the most extreme capitalist would wish to have.

A real capitalist, of course, would not wish to see a true free market anyway, at least, not if they were busy applying their skills in the modern economy. For one thing, a market favourable to a big business often delivers it the power to try and prevent said market from changing, or at least to try and control the rate of change — stability of the market is something in the interests of any business, so it follows naturally that businesses, even rivals, are not opposed to all government intervention — just some.

Generally, up til here, a Marxist would be agreeing with me, so I’m tempted to turn on marxists next, just to keep the trend up of irritating as many ideological trends as possible. But I’m not going to, because I’m trying to give this a point and some direction, so I’ll come back to right-wing politics, capitalism, and the free market.

Recently, I have been made aware of a trend in ideological (or “intellectual”) thought, that I must confess I did not realise existed beyond the fringes of the internet; that which advances “fundamental property rights”, and an entirely free market. Quite why both ideas go together I am not sure, though I do believe that those who take this disturbingly narrow-minded direction of thought economically and politically may have made the fatal mistake of believing in more than one fundamental truth: for everyone knows that the person who only accepts one premise as true is impossible to argue with.

It is still incredibly difficult to counter this, generally because the complexity of society throughout history being what it is, there is actually no real example that comes to mind of an entirely free market with absolute property rights (to which one is tempted to add, “Thank goodness” or “I wonder why”). This means that it is very difficult to argue that one knows with a certainty what such a society would look like, given lack of historical precedent. One place where it appears reasonable to start, however, is in the basic distinction between the absolute property rights and free market (hereby abbreviated to APRFM) school, and anarchist (of the honest sort, that recognises the oxymoronic nature of “left-wing” anarchism).

The difference is that the APRFM school of thought does not disagree with all features of government — presumably because it can see how in a perfectly ‘free’ society, property rights and freedom of trade might not be achieved (due to the irrationality of free human beings, one supposes, who cannot see the bountiful advantages that come with free trade and absolute property rights). Instead, the APRFM concede that a “strong”, but “very small” government is needed, to enforce property rights, and ensure free trade.

The latter idea is problematic, for in a free market society, it follows that money is (purchasing) power (of whatever is profitable to sell in the market). It also follows that businesses are allowed to expand as the market allows, without restriction, and thus gain more power than they might be allowed to in a regulated market society that had laws to limit the scope of business expansion.

So far, so straightfoward. Now the real problems begin to appear: we have already established the need for government (“to enforce property rights, and ensure free trade”, remember), so therefore the power of businesses in relation to government sets off immediate alarm bells. There are two options: either government is small, and businesses are allowed to dominate government via exercising their market power; or government is strong enough to insulate itself from business interests, in which case it will almost certainly have to be very big. And if it is this big, it stands to reason that it may start to get ideas into its head about society beyond the market, and want to start intervening in ways other than those involving the protection of free trade and property rights.

So either way, a sustainable free market looks unlikely, given that either way you have it, there is at least on powerful interest (or set of interests) attempting to dominate the process of government. Either established businesses will attempt to dominate the process of government to their exclusive advantage, or government will be big enough to get ideas of its own. Heads I win, tails APRFM lose.

That’s one half of the equation — the free market. Believe it or not, it’s not until here that it starts to get juicy, as we get on to (“absolute”) property rights.

The concept of absolute property rights strikes me, I must admit (in fact, I take pleasure in admitting) as a strange one, as it seems to be self-contradictory when one thinks through the possible ramifications. Presumably, absolute property rights entail an absolute right of ownership of whatever is classed as one’s property. It would seem logical to assume that certain basic things are automatically one’s property from birth: such as one’s body, one’s labour, one’s skills. Therefore it follows that with absolute property rights, these uncontested items of private property can also be sold on the market. Or, in a language everyone will be able to understand: slavery.

The thing is, this rather amusingly demonstrates that the all too frequent ideological core of the APRFM school, that “the property rights of some should not be violated for the benefit of others” is breached by the concept of absolute property rights, which is at the heart of their ideology. For if one person owns another in the absolute sense, owning their body, labour and skills, then they themselves have control over said person’s property rights. But if you attempt to limit the owner’s property rights so the slave’s property rights are intact, then you merely breach the owner’s property rights. Absolute property rights is thus a self-defeating concept.

As is the free market. Setting aside the tendency toward monopoly for the time being (which APRFM apparently do not “accept”), absolute property rights would clearly infringe upon the concept of free market, as the market would no longer have a universal consumer and distributer base due to the legitimisation of slavery, but curbed property rights will be a limitation on the market, which would also prevent it from being free. Both rights are at odds with one another, as well as with themselves. Internally and externally, the school of thought is inconsistent.

And this is before we get into anything remotely practical. How APRFM see their ideology being inforced when it comes to intellectual property, for instance, I do not know. Attempt to regulate internet providers, or shut down the survers hosting filesharing sites, and you’re infringing upon the free market and property rights, but leave filesharing websites unchallenged and you’re failing to support the intellectual property rights of artists and record companies. Heads I win, tails APRFM lose.

And then there are areas where enforcement on an individual level of property is so difficult as to be impossible: such as what are currently territorial waters and the oceans. The whole concept of building a school of thought upon two absolute, contradictory and internally contractory premises, whose scope is limited to what is possible for any holder of property, is utterly ridiculous.

In defence of Anarchism? Well, after analysing that, Anarchism looks rather good in comparison.

Democracy and the ways in which my mind doesn’t get on with it.

I have a confession to make. Despite having always regarded myself as “something of a democrat” (which means… democratic, just not too much of a good thing), my voting intentions have never worked very well with the particular concept of democracy most people in this country have.

For instance, before I understood the voting system, and how the terms of the contest varied from region to region, I used to claim that “if Labour were going to win, I would vote Conservative, if the Conservatives were likely to win, I would vote Labour”, unashamedly, even though I could understand the logical problems with this sort of tactical voting, not to mention what it says about your ego that I believed that I was smart enough to vote tactically for good reasons.

I still have something of this idea in me, though watered down by a greater understanding of FPTP and the knowledge that in my home constituency of Leominster, the best opposition to the incumbent MP would be from the Liberal Democrats. However, my University constituency is a Labour seat, with the Conservatives the nearest opposition (to my knowledge), and I cannot help but think that I would vote differently were Labour at all likely to win the forthcoming election (which they are not, at present) than in the context of the present polls. This is because of what perceive to be a fundamental problem with elections, the fact that enough people can prefer one party moderately enough over another to give them a landslide majority, despite the fact that if the magnitude of their preferences were to be taken into account, they would not probably wish to deliver such landslide levels of control.

There are some of you who would probably say that this is meaningless anyway, as the Conservatives have only ever gone past the 50% level once, and that with a “fair” voting system, they would not be delivered a landslide majority, which is fair enough. But even if it’s only a hypothetical consideration in the full, I feel it is still an important one: electoral contests are an imperfect way of reflecting upon someone’s opinions, because even with the most ‘proportional’ voting systems, what is not taken into account is how much of a role you envision for the losers.

Of course, some of you would probably argue Single Transferable Vote as an exception to this, in that you can “divide” your preferences between different parties to quite a sophisticated level in some cases (depending on the size of the constituency, and how much attention you want to give to the ballot paper). But even Single Transferable Vote is tricky: the likely-hood of a vote being “transferred” is hit and miss, and the chances depend on the level of popular support a candidate gains to begin with. I suppose the latter factor puts something of a lid on the chances of a candidate gaining too disproportionately from the appeal of being “marginally better” than the other contestants, but it’s still a clumsy tool. It may, unfortunately, be the best one for addressing this problem.

Still, there are other issues. The problem with the “all in one” nature of British democracy at the moment is that people have to balance the needs of Local Representation, National Representation, choice of government agenda, choice of legislative agenda, their preferences on the level of the individual candidate and their preferences on the level of the national party. The Conservatives have laughably tried to insinuate in the past that this maximises choice in national elections: the reality is that it stretches it to the barest thinnist it could conceivably be.

What is probably more crucial is that we have a greater choice in terms of representative democracy, including greater local devolution and a largely democratic House of Lords, unpalatable connotations though these ideas may have at first. For even if a “perfect” voting system of representation exists, it cannot possibly fulfill all of the needs for each type of political representation rolled into one. Two constitutional experiments in the last decade have shown particular promise: Devolution, and greater bicameralism. It is just as critical that we draw from this pool than attempting to plaster a problem over with electoral reform, be it improving the voting system or primaries.