I was thinking about the upcoming debate about whether we should replace our First Past The Post voting system with Alternative Vote as a sop to the LibDems’ desire for PR (and yes I do know that it isn’t PR, but in the minds of many it will be and what’s more it will be referred to as PR in the debates) and got to thinking why do we have to impose from on high the way each constituency chooses its representative? Once we’ve agreed the number of MPs in Parliament this determines the size of each constituency, boundaries can then be drawn, we already have an independent commission* to do this, and constituencies could decide how they select their MP.
Ah, you say, how would constituencies decide on their preferred voting system? My first thoughts, and I’m open to suggestions, is some form of electoral college to be formed from all the mayors in the constituency? They could then decide whether or not to go for FPTP or AV or any other voting system for single member constituencies. The college could even decide whether or not political parties have to hold open primaries, which is a way of ensuring some contest in constituencies where a single party has a strong majority, like here where the Conservative got over 50% at the last election. This would also have the benefit of ensuring that parties don’t use safe seats to get cronies elected against the wishes of the local party.
But that wouldn’t suit the PR purists as it doesn’t provide the opportunity for multi-member constituencies which, they will claim, provide a better representation of the vote and is closer to true PR. Personally I’m against any break with the single representative for a constituency and if we must have some form of true PR would prefer the Scottish system with top up lists, but being a libertarian I am happy to see some diversity. In the system I propose there is nothing to stop a few constituencies banding together and pooling their representatives. Kernow, which has 6 MPs, could, for example, decide to have a County wide multi-member PR vote, all that is needed is for the colleges to vote that way.
Work in progress but it would certainly get people involved.
*OK, so they are open to political interference but its a start.