Voting Reform: A reply to my MP.


My MP replied to my email about Voting Reform.
The reply was on paper in the post, so I mostly couldn’t be arsed to type it out to paste it here given how boiler-plate it was.

My reply to her written tonight is, however, already in easy-pastable electronic form:


Thanks for your reply, though I wish you’d just send
an email in reply rather than wasting paper, ink and the Post
Office’s time by printing ’em out and posting.

It also wastes my time typing it all out again to pass on
to my friends of course. And introduces typos and
accidental misquotes.

Is all government business still done that way? I confess
I do sort of like seeing the parliamentary logo on an
envelope under my post-box, but it seems like I could
get an email as well at least? And I have plenty of
souvenirs now, no?


You say that it’s important to know who your MP is, and hold
them to account, and imply that the only way this can be done
is through a first-past-the-post regional system.

I’d agree that a constituent knowing how to contact and communicate with their MP is important, but disagree that the First Past The Post system is the only way this can
be achieved, let alone the best system possible.

People would do the same as they do now: Ask Google.

You say that having a particular ‘area’ you represent makes
you a better representative, but the point is that for
the vast majority of national issues, geographical
proximity isn’t the most important ‘area’.

Would it not be better if my MP was someone who was close
to me on the political compass, rather than someone who lives within a mile or two but doesn’t share my political outlook?

Having an MP to “act on my behalf” is pretty pointless
if that MP isn’t actually acting as I myself would act,
if s/he isn’t actually representing my view. If s/he
instead asks me to understand WHY they aren’t going to vote
the way that would *actually* represent my position.

I frankly would like to see a system where I can change
my political representative as easily as I can change
my electricity supplier. And without having to wait
until a five-year election cycle to do so, let alone
pick from such a limited menu.

AV voting is just about the tiniest step we can make in that direction that I can imagine, but it is at least
an attempt. It might make things better, and it can
hardly make them worse.

You were my MP for four years without even making an
attempt at making parliament more representative.
Your party in government for over a decade.

I’ll take what I can get from this limited menu, at least until I can find a way to order a-la-carte.

I guess it’s not surprising if my MP will not be
representing my view in the debate, because the
electoral boundaries divide the natural political
constituencies of the political spectrum into artificial geographical lines on a map.

Divide to conquer.

Locking out all minority opinion and debate in the process.

I too would like to see more honest and hard-working
MPs, and a closer link between MPs and their constituents.
But the fist past the post system seems designed almost
exactly to avoid this. To avoid my MP actually being
someone who I can agree with on many issues, to avoid
my opinion being represented in the house, to avoid
my MP having to fear a withdrawal of my support since
they never even actually had it. Instead geographical constituencies and first past the
post voting dilute my democratic voice by averaging it with others who happen to live nearby.

In short: I would rather have a representative who actually agreed with me, who voiced my opinion, than one who happens to be the favourite of the people on the same bus-route as me.

Would that not be a better democracy to aim for?

I’d love to spend ten minutes recording a phone call
about these issues with you to share with my friends, peers, tweeps and blog-readers. Especially as the AV referendum approaches, for that really will be national.
Really might affect the outcome of the vote rather than
just influencing people who can have no say because
they don’t share the same tube station.

Of course very few of them actually live in your
constituency. We find ourselves divided by geography from being able to pool our meagre democratic power to pull behind, or indeed against, any of our representatives. In any of our constituencies.

Divided by geography. In a city as small as London.
In the modern telegraphic age.

It practically beggars belief.

Alternative Vote isn’t nearly enough to fix our
system, and I’d like a tick-box on the referendum
to say “Yeah! At least, and go further!”, but in the absence of that I hope we can, surely, go as far as the Tories would give us a referendum on
during negotiations to form a government?

I understand your party offered much the same,
though without the number of MPs to back it up
unfortunately (but easily the right number of
votes, no?).

I’m sure a coalition of the left would have been
a better outcome if only the left’s vote hadn’t
been divided by geography.

A problem looking set to get worse under new
boundaries I believe.

Boundaries! In politics! Oh my. Fences to stop
the people really uniting. And you apparently
support them?

I’m serious about wanting a telephone interview
with you if you’re up for it by the way. Once the
referendum campaign is under way. There’s only a couple of hundred people read my blog, though it goes up a lot when I’m more interesting. As far as I
know I’m the only one that lives in your constituency,
but it would be there for you to point at to those who do live here, and in search for anyone interested
in your defence of your opinions.

We live in a global world now. Even people in our
limited geographical constituency can hear it if they search for it!

The people can really have a national conversation (even a global conversation!), we don’t need to be limited
by the speed of a day’s horseback ride any more.

I know I’m a dreamer, which is why I’m also a Fabian.
Gradual change, incremental advance. We shouldn’t try
to restructure society all at once. But AV is, despite
it’s limits, a step in the right direction.

If it isn’t, propose something better, don’t just oppose
suggested change.

How do YOU think we can work together to achieve a
representative system where every MP actually embodies
the political and sociological views of their constituents
rather than just trying to remain as unbiased as they
can when two thirds of the people who give them their
political legitimacy fundamentally disagree with them?

Is it really drawing lines on the map and letting
the biggest minority in each square vote to ignore the rest of the people who live there?

Finally, good luck in fighting the spending cuts that
look like they could cripple our economy. I suspect
we at least agree there. It’s bound to happen that
*some* of my opinions will be represented by even
someone who ‘represents’ me mostly via a geographic roll of the dice.

I tend to think that *investment* is what a government
should do in a recession. Properly chosen investment at least. Something that’ll create the jobs to pay the
tax bill we face.