(Ignored) Open letter to the Speakers Conference on Parliamentary Representation.

Terms of reference:

The Speaker's Conference [on Parliamentary Representation] was established by the House of Commons to look into the reasons why there are not more women, disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities in the House of Commons.

It has to:

* identify any particular difficulties people in these groups face in becoming Members of Parliament,
* to recommend ways of supporting them; and
* to recommend ways of tackling those barriers to their success.


The under-represented cannot be elected, because the First Past The Post system is under-representational. This was known, one and a half centuries ago, by John Stuart Mill.
Commissions, with unsearching terms of reference, like this speaker's conference, seem to turn out unfinding reports.

Judging by how much pre-eminence, the two main parties give to party, it is odd that the Speakers Conference terms of reference about minorities should not include the under-representation of third or smaller parties. Nor does it consider half the voters for either of the two main party candidates, who are denied representation by a single member system. First Past The Post comes up empty, politicly as well as socially, for so many people, to discourage turn-out and dissatisfy dutiful voters, who are taken for granted.

Such "inclusion," as the two main parties profess to, is belied by their commitment to the exclusive single member system.

However, Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman was reported in The Guardian as saying that nothing was ruled out. Tho, the conference does not have the traditional title as being on Electoral Reform.

J S Mill's true democracy of minorities-guaranteed majorities.

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The main solution to representing minorities is easy. Persuading Parliament is the problem.

In 1979, the National Health Service moved from First Past the Post elections of the General Medical Council to Single Transferable Vote (STV). The result was a change in composition from dominance by white male general practitioners to the proportional representation of women, immigrants and specialists.

The Single Transferable Vote System was immediately recognised as having rendered a valuable service to the medical profession. It ensured, for the first time, accurate representation on the General Medical Council of women and immigrant members, as well as various specialist and other sub-groups within the profession.

(The Electoral Reform Society 1979. Accounts and Reports of the Council and Auditors.)

New Zealand subsequently introduced STV for its Health Boards.
The British NHS has its problems. Simon Jenkins explained that hospitals have not been allowed to clean themselves, because of the Tory introduction of out-sourcing, a dogma subsequently sustained by the Labour government. It is as if the government decided the British people could not be trusted to wash themselves, and put out the job to private tender.

Of the professions in general, STV could achieve occupational diversity in the second chamber, as a House of Callings. This functional representation could take place with the legally required elections that the professions and trades must hold for their governing bodies.

Science succeeds by a testing of theory with practise. And the political laws of the first chamber could be tested by the widest economic experience from a vocationally representative second chamber.

If this kind of rigorous honesty of science could supplant the political spin of top-down dogmatism, it would bring an effectiveness to public policy of great advantage to that nation.

The 1997 Labour government accepted its party's working report on electoral systems (The Plant Report). This admitted, in its preliminary report, that the single transferable vote is the best system for representing minorities. But then the commission asked how might it otherwise be achieved.
This speakers conference is an admission of the failure of other means.

The Plant commission didnt like the Irish experience of MPs of the same party being in competition in a multi-member constituency, so that there is a higher turn-over of representatives. All this amounts-to is that the voters have a better choice of candidates, including those from the same party. It means politicians have to pay attention to views from the ground up, more than from the top down. This is, on balance, a more robust and healthy democracy.

But the lures of office ensure the top still has plenty of leverage in Ireland. So, the Plant report missed a balanced assessment, trembling for the loss of safe seats, and thus recommending anything but STV: four other systems, including the Supplementary Vote for The House of Commons.

The preliminary Plant report made slighting remarks of John Stuart Mill, the nineteenth century's most distinguished philosopher of science, as "frightened" and "fearful" of democracy, with mass parties of the working classes. (There are no mass parties in Britain now.)

The commission implied this was the reason Mill supported Hare's system, as it was named after its English originator (Carl Andrae was the independent Danish inventor by a few months previously). Hare's sytem envisaged the nation as one constituency. This is of a bearing to the conference's work, because it shows how important the maximum diversity of representation was to Mill, its supporter. Tho, Mill's speech shows Hare and himself were flexible on the issue of local constituencies, something that Ive never heard from secondary sources.

It's an important point, because representation can only be as diverse as the representation is equally shared out. The largeness of the NHS constituency means that the representation is very proportional and the GMC a remarkably accurate reflection of the profession's composition.

Labour's electoral working party had only to look at Mill's speeches, as an MP, in Hansard (now on-line) to see their slur couldnt be further from the truth (like their report as a whole).
Not only did Mill speak for extending the franchise to the working classes, he emphaticly endorsed democracy in principle. Not only in point of universal suffrage, but for womanhood as well as manhood.

And he was a democrat, who explicitly warned that the democracy, we still have in practise, is a seriously deficient system. He urged Thomas Hare's effective democracy of "personal representation" with both preference voting and proportional counting, essentially the system of proportional representation now known as STV.

Mill warned his largely working class constituency that the whole reason he was standing for Parliament was not to do constituency work but to extend representation, whether to women, to the working classes, or to promote accurate representation thru effective voting system. He did not financially promote his own candidature, tho he financially supported working class candidates.

Mill introduced the first bill for womens suffrage, which became a cause celebre every year after. Mill introduced the first bill for proportional representation, which no other MP would support. Yet it also was subsequently taken up in further bills right to our own times.

Britain's half-dozen undemocratic voting methods where STV would do.

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First Past the Post: system of false majorities

J S Mill was quite clear that majorities should be given due weight of representation but not undue weight.True democracy represents minorities in true proportion to the majorities. False democracy is the tyranny of the majority. It is wrong that governments should deceive themselves, and others, that they have more support in the country than they really have, and thus, uncompromisingly, go further than (or not as far as) the country wants them to go in some directions.

Mill reasoned that without minority representation, a majority itself soon turned into the false democracy of a majority of a majority. He said, if barely half the people in the country are represented in parliament, and barely half the representatives in Parliament pass the laws, then hardly more than a quarter of the population might have their views represented on any given issue.

Mill also noticed the discouraging effect of safe constituencies on participation. This remains pertinent to the last two elections with about forty per cent of the electorate not turning out. The extremely discriminatory FPTP system may amount to government with no more than the grudging assent of a small minority of the population.

Game-keeping for poachers is the besetting sin of Speakers Conferences, since the betrayal of the one and only great conference, the first, in 1916.

The "betrayal" in question was the removing of a democratic column from the agreed structure of proposals. This "column" was the single transferable vote. But at least one undemocratic column, and plutocratic counter-weight, stayed in place, the hugely expensive lost deposit for a candidate not getting one-eighth of the votes.

The rascality, of the two party set-up, was exposed when this barrier was reduced to one-twentieth the votes, more than a half-century later, only when a third party, the Liberal-SDP Alliance was punished much less, by it, than either the Labour or Tory parties, because of the third party's much more even spread of support thru-out the country, that also denied them nearly any representation in a single member system.

In the 1983 general election, the third party got nearly 26% of the votes for their candidates, winning only three and a half per cent of the seats. This derisory system of injustice, to third party minorities needs to be borne in mind by minorities in general (women, too, "household goddesses" are a minority in public life). In fact, the third party polled almost as many votes as the Labour party's 28%. Increasingly typicly, all the parties are minorities.

There is reason to believe that even in the hey-day of the two-party system, that First Past The Post was suppressing the wishes of voters. An opinion poll in 1950 showed that about a third of the voters would be likely to vote Liberal if they had a chance of a majority. (J F S Ross, Elections and Electors. Appendix II.) There was nearly support enough for the down-and-out Liberals in 1950 to have won the 2005 election!

In the 2005 election there was a sixty seat majority for Labour on 35% of the votes, which was also only 22% of the electorate.This is an under-representation that might have been mentioned in the conference's terms of reference, which it seems have not been adequately thought-out by a more representative range of opinion.

In Britain's present single member system, high-ranking party MPs are routinely found safer seats, if boundary changes make their seats marginal.

[Lord] Moonie is a social friend of Gordon Brown and was ennobled in 2005. He gave up his parliamentary seat reportedly so that Brown could keep his in a boundary change.
The Sunday Times 25 january 2009.

The safe-seat-seeking is like a party game of musical chairs. It goes on behind the public's backs. Politicians pre-empt elections. They tacitly admit that First Past The Post defeats individual representation, while claiming (like benefit frauds) that individual representation is the reason that FPTP must be kept. Politicians could not justify changing their seats to keep their jobs, if it were not tacitly acknowledged, that single member constituencies load the results with accidental party concentrations of dominance over the more disliked opposing party.

First-Past-The-Post politicians' safe-seat deals show they lack the courage of their convictions. FPTP is a dishonest pretence of personal representation. It is less democracy than patronage: patronage in how the MPs are found seats, and patronage of most constituents, who never voted for them. Many of those, who do vote for them, may not like them, or have any attributes in common, but are trapped politicly.

The lack of social diversity in the House of Commons is a by-product of sham elections that shut out all the voters from effectively choosing who they most want to represent them. First Past The Post must go, if you really want social diversity. As Lord Shinwell said: First Past The Post is undemocratic. He supported STV.

The perpetuation of First Past The Post in the Commons has depended on its exclusion of political diversity of beliefs in the affairs of the nation, with the doctrine of a two-party system. Tho, it is also wrong for the Liberal Democrats and smaller parties to typicly prioritise partisan diversity above all the other possible kinds of social diversity that make-up the true country.

The Conservatives, like Labour, have tried to evade this truism. David Cameron, the self-proclaimed enemy of top-down government, tried to force a top-down system of social diversity on the Tory selection of candidates. This was the A-list, a national party list of Tory untypicals to be parachuted into local constituencies. Local selection committees rebuffed this imposition and the A-list was formally abandoned. Tho, the odd Press murmur suggests hopes of its revival.

Political honesty cannot be founded on such electoral dishonesty.

Alternative Vote and Supplementary Vote: wasted first preferences.

The Alternative Vote (AV) or the Supplementary Vote are preference voting confined to single member constituencies, which means that, on average, depending on the number of candidates, typicly more than half the first preferences are wasted.

In Scotland's Single Transferable Vote (STV) local elections of 2007, nearly three-quarters of the first preferences elected candidates. (And most of the remainder will have effective second or high order preferences.) That comparison actually under-estimates the superiority of STV, whose first preferences are from a much bigger choice of candidates in multi-member constituencies, than the Alternative Vote (AV), confined to single member constituencies.

With STV, if first preferences more than succeed in reaching an elective proportion, or quota, of the votes, then second preferences are the next to help elect candidates. But with AV, there is not that possibility of surplus votes being transfered from highest to next highest prefered candidates, who also are the first preferences of some other voters. Instead, AV always excludes, successively, candidates with the least first preferences. And what counts with AV is the next preferences of the voters for these excluded candidates. (STV only excludes candidates if there are no more surplus votes to fill remaining seats.)

Because of this, Churchill said the Alternative Vote is the worst votes for the worst candidates. Conversely, one could say that the transfer of surplus votes makes STV the best votes for the best candidates.

Tho, AV is still better than FPTP which is: no vote for ranking more than one candidate, or the Supplementary Vote: no vote for ranking more than two candidates. FIrst Past The Post and Supplementary Vote completely waste all but, respectively, one or two preferences, which the "wasted vote" extortion often prevents voters making their highest preferences.

Additional Member System and AV Top-up: systems of false proportions.

The undemocratic nature of systems like the Closed List and the Additional Members System (AMS) became more recognised after adoption in Britain.
This is testified in the Richard Report, which recommended STV for the Welsh Assembly. Indeed, it would be harder to justify the assembly having full legislative powers, sought in a referendum, given the admittedly tenuous link between the voters and AMS.

As the Richard Report says, AMS denies the voters the basic right to reject candidates. It is a doubly safe seat system, a doubly unelective "election". Not only are there safe seats in the single member constituencies, there are safe seats on a party list. In Germany, Chancellor Kohl was a beneficiary of this. When he lost his single member constituency, he was saved by also having a party list seat.

The Independent commission on voting systems (the Jenkins report) recommended the Alternative Vote topped up with a party open list system (AV Top-up). All Additional Member Systems have the shortcomings not only of the systems they combine but of the effects of their combination. They produce an amazing number of anomalies, that are steadily uncovered from study or their results in practise. (I have discussed examples on my web page reviews, such as of the Arbuthnott report etc.)

One of the more recent revelations is, for me, one of the most decisive refutations of these contradictory hybrids that try, self-defeatingly, to be both majority counts and party proportional counts. This relates to a practise, apparently exploited in recent Italian elections, of dummy parties.
The main parties that dominate First Past The Post elections can set up dummy parties to harvest seats from party list votes. This strategem gets round the disqualification of a party from having list seats, when it already has its share (or more) of single-member seats for votes.
Systems of proportional partisanship are corruptible into disproportionate partisanship or false majorities.

Having studied scientific method of elections (as on my web-site) I am interested in the deeper implications of this inconsistency. Systems of proportional partisanship may not work even on their own limited terms. The party divisions are arbitrary and make a proportional count of party votes arbitrary and exploitable.
I would argue that, besides innumerable other failings, dummy or duplicative proportional partisanship is a definitive refutation of the oligarchic restriction of representation to Party Lists, not least in Additional Member Systems.

FPTP is a system of false majorities. List systems, not least of Additonal Members, are systems of false proportions also, in effect, false majorities.

Party Lists: the abolition of representative democracy.

The few disabled MPs, one can think of, have triumphantly over-come their disabilities. Richard Wood MP (later Lord Holderness) lost his legs as a fighter pilot. He took part in the debate on the electoral system for the first British Euro-elections.
STV was already used for local and assembly elections in Ulster. And it really had to be used for Ulster Euro-elections, because the transferable vote was needed to prevent a split in the nationalist vote between the war and peace parties, which would have deprived them of one of the three Ulster seats representing the Irish nationalist third of the population.

Were the British people to be availed of the evident advantage of STV?
Oh, no sir! Those sheep were to get the Regional List with an X-vote. Tho, the Home Secretary had to concede in debate that the Regional List could elect a party candidate with no personal votes, merely because he was on a party list.

That gallant man, Richard Wood got up (on his artificial legs) with an amiable observation about not knowing the Home Secretary was a follower of Machiavelli [a by-name for devious politicians]. Of not allowing the voters to use a number order of choice (for a transferable vote in a proportional count) Wood said: It is "an insult to the intelligence of the British people."

The history of British Euro-elections shows that the Regional List was defeated in the Commons, in the late '70s, precisely because Open Lists are ineffective in achieving individual representation.
Back in power, in 1997, Labour gave up trying even to pretend to favor democratic system achieved by democratic discussion. Tony Blair simply dictated that the Closed List system would be used for British Euro-elections. The Lords over-looked the Regional List farce of twenty years ago. They threw out the Closed List five times, in favor of the false pretences of an Open List.

Open Lists are bound to be fraudulent of individual representation, because the priority of all List systems is to secure proportional partisanship. Personal representation, if any, is only an after-thought. Whether the list gives socially diverse representation depends on the patronage of the party, its activists or its managers or boss. Also crucial is how high any women or minority candidates are placed on the list. The list is a party-privileged preference vote, denied the voters.
Whereas STV makes a proportional count of a preference vote for every voter. STV is democratic PR. List systems, including mixed systems like AMS, are oligarchic PR.

Partisan corruption, from lack of preference voting, is evident, by chance or design, in the Closed List for British Euro-elections. For example, in the Yorkshire constituency, the Green Socialists list split the vote from the Green Party, thus lessening its chance of Green supporters gaining a seat.
A preference vote is essential for a proportional count, which was understood by the inventors of PR.

Single Transferable Vote: the system for all elections.

One test of whether STV is good enough to be called democratic voting system, while all the other systems are not, is that it alone can be used for elections in general. STV furnishes a scientific standard of comparison, between election results, that can give an objective assessment of changes in public opinion. STV is true democracy.

STV is the only system that can be used for all elections, political or non-political, and at every level of government - as it is in Eire.

The Labour party's Plant report abandoned both scientific and democratic standards, when it pretended there is no principle that could decide a definitive voting method, and urged different electoral systems for different institutions.

Inevitably, Labour's lack of electoral principle was dignified as a principle. Under Labour government, Britain got half a dozen undemocratic voting methods where the democratic method would do. (That was until 2007, when Scottish local elections introduced STV, which unlike Welsh reports for STV, escaped their censorious jurisdiction.)

A quiet realisation of voter confusion with AMS for the Scottish Assembly may have contributed to the decision of the Kerley Commission to recommend STV for local elections.

Tho a new local system, STV worked well, causing few spoilt papers, unlike the assembly's AMS fiasco, which prompted an official investigation and apology. The Welsh and Scots had already reported how poorly understood AMS was.
The STV local election constituencies were of three or four members, which is not highly proportional. This is the Irish distribution of seats per constituency, that had been whittled down by Ireland's largest party to give themselves some disproportionate advantage and the increased chance of one-party rule.

Nevertheless, STV gave a reasonably proportional representation to Scotland's four main parties, as well as some minor party seats. The representation of women did not increase but fewer women candidates were put up. With STV, the women candidates, who did stand, had about the same chance of election as men. So, STV seems to offer a good chance of solving the under-representation of women.

Wendy Bergerud, one of the randomly chosen members of the British Columbia Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, wanted to make sure that STV was not biased against women. She decided the advantage for women is with STV as a fully multi-member system, compared to AMS, as a proportional system, where half the seats are still from professional white male dominated single member constituencies.

If the main parties dont put up more women candidates, in Scottish local elections, then smaller parties or independents may move in on this virgin territory.
This can be said with confidence, because the transferable vote ensures voting first for a woman or minority candidates wont be a wasted vote.

The 2003 local elections with FPTP gave voters just less than an average three and a half candidates' choice, compared to nearly seven and a half candidates with STV. This choice with STV is already more than double the choice with FPTP, and is expected to rise, as some parties could have expected to win more seats with more candidates.

STV in Scottish elections effectively abolished uncontested polls from no chance of winning under FPTP. Minority parties were encouraged to put up more candidates. And social minorities in general must fancy more their chances of winning seats with STV, albeit under only moderately proportional multi-member constituencies.

Diversity of representation depends on the degree of proportionality or sharing. Ethnic groups are a very small minority in Scotland and the first STV elections didnt change their amount of representation. As a matter of fact, the representation of young people improved.

It probably isnt a coincidence that the first ethnic Chinese to be elected in the UK was to the latest Northern Ireland assembly. Here STV is used with six-member constituencies. The fragmented nature of Ulster politics demanded that higher proportion of representation. It potentially offers considerably more social diversity than a three or four member system.

Only STV can offer social diversity of representation as well as it offers political diversity of representation, because the system is, as Mill called it, "personal representation" and the attributes in candidates that are most important to the voters, can go into their orders of preference.

STV is the most enabling system but as the saying goes: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. The fact that women are poorly represented in Ireland and Malta is a faith phenomenon. Only a year or two ago, the Roman Catholic church pronounced that women should stay in the home and keep out of public life.

Some critics have used the coincidence that STV is used in two paternalistic societies to pretend that STV harms women's representation. One could make equally unscrupulous claims in favor of STV. The turn-out in Ulster Euro-elections is the highest in the United Kingdom. And the 90% turn-out in Maltese elections puts the rest of Europe to shame.
That does not prove that people take best to STV. (Tho they may. STV is admittedly popular in Ireland.)

The Kerley report was a New Deal in the relation between represented and their representatives. It proposed radical improvements to the status of representatives. They would be given opportunities to gain qualifications in their terms of office, so they could move on to other work, if they were defeated at subsequent elections.

The real deal was that, in return for such advantages as career training and support, the elections should be genuinely elective, namely by STV.
The Sunderland report gave more reasons for recommending STV for Welsh local elections.

Furthermore, the Arbuthnott report, on the four different electoral systems in Scotland, made a substantial move towards the wider use of STV, recommending STV for Scottish Euro-elections, and leaving open the possibility of STV for the Scottish parliament. It must be admitted that this report was less well informed on STV than its Welsh counterpart, the Richard report. Unfortunately, both the Welsh reports for STV, the Sunderland report and the Richard report were rebuffed by the politicians in Wales and in the Commons. This could only act against a consensus for STV that electoral reports have been coming to.

Incoherent politicians.

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The Power commission, chaired by Helena Kennedy, diffidently acknowledged the emerging pattern of support for STV.
The commission's research, funded by the Rowntree Trust, found that people thru-out the country were turned off politics because the parties, once social clubs of the classes, were an ineffective means to change policies and get things done. Politicians offered too little meaningful choice in elections.
STV could make good the deficiency of choice.

The Power commission held a meeting in Westminster. Well, it was laughably predictable in its out-come, when politicians graced the event.
David Cameron turned up to make a speech, giving the impression he had convened the meeting himself, by thanking people for turning up. He took good care to make clear that moving from the single member system was not an option: at least weve got that right, he asserted. To him, it was enough that MPs did constituency work for ordinary people, who neednt get political ambitions.

Peter Tatchell, who was on the platform, picked up on Cameron being against fair votes. But his suggestion of two-member constituencies was scarcely more inspiring.
Someone put to a bright young thing in the Labour government that they should take off the whips to allow free speech in Parliament.
All he replied was: That's not going to happen.

End of debate! This resistance to other points of view exposes the top-down dogmatism of British government preventing Parliament from doing its job of progress thru learning by free debate on the best courses of action.

Science succeeds because it honestly seeks out all available opinions that might invalidate preconceptions and get a bit closer to the truth. Science succeeds because it honestly tries to be freely democratic. Politics fails because it clings to its governing prejudices in wilful ignorance of truly representative democracy of opinions.

Democracy and science are a virtuous circle. Vested interests and ignorance are a vicious circle. This ignorance suits vested interests lobbying government parasiticly against the public interest. (The appendix gives one example of a potential disaster from top-down dogmatism in government.) The community that learns that lesson will have a competitive edge over those that dont. Nations like Britain, whose governments dont learn, face worsening degradation.

The political parties have been deserted by the masses, whose interests they no longer serve. Now, the Environmentalists form a mass movement in the public interest. That generous-minded and prescient man, John Stuart Mill was a founder of the first of these organisations, which works to preserve the country-side for the benefit of future generations.

The Lords debate, on the Power report, was dismissive, including from the Labour spokeswoman. The Westminster village would be unwise to have no sense of public feeling, until it shows itself in organised defiance.
For its pains, the chief political correspondent of the Independent disdained the Power commission's mild approval of STV. This media lobbyist prefered to agonise about "Gordon" being determined to take over from "Tony." Tho, the Independent is the only paper that launched a formal campaign for proportional representation after the 2005 election.

The 2005 government was "elected" from the faults of the system, with one of the most anomalous results in British history, as well as one of the lowest turn-outs. A committee, chaired by John Prescott, was set-up to look into the matter. Its privacy ensured nothing more was heard of it, till its predictable recent decision that nothing needed doing.

In Tony Blair's farewell Labour conference, Prescott made one of his evangelising speeches for the party faithful. There he declared that Blair had won three "landslide" victories. From this vain-glorious remark, it was evident that the chairman of the alleged committee on electoral reform, had given no thought on the matter.

It is perhaps noteworthy that the tv coverage cut him off, as he was getting worked-up into full flow, as indifferent to what he had to say next, as his own indifference to electoral justice.

It doesnt seem to worry the government to state principles which they resist in practise. Following the Prescott committee's ignoring of partisan bias, Michael Wills, the justice minister (in january 2009) announced a principle of elections without partisan bias:

It will also be fundamental to our approach that the electoral system itself must be beyond partisan dispute. While elections will always be vigorously contested, and rightly so, the foundations of the electoral system itself should not be the subject of controversy.
Therefore, however justifiable any proposal may be in its own terms, we must always be wary of seeking to implement solutions to any given problem and implementing any given principle if, in doing so, it creates, however inadvertently, a biased outcome in the electoral system as a whole...

Anything that undermines the principle of a level playing field for all democratic political parties is axiomatically partisan and risks illegitimacy.

John Prescott moved referendums on regional assemblies for the North East and Yorkshire. By diktat, the system to be used was the Additional Member System. Since AMS is the doubly safe-seat system, it made little practical difference, when Prescott appointed regional bodies, after the referendums voted NO to them. The sham democracy would have been little or no better than the bureaucracy that the public got, anyway.

The 1998 Independent commission on Voting systems (the Jenkins report) didnt have particularly robust terms of reference. But it was supposed to be independent.

Yet at the Jenkins' report's press conference, the chairman discounted the government's powers of tolerance. This was his excuse for such a lame duck recommendation as AV Top-up. Apparently, Roy Jenkins still had that "flea in his ear" that Barbara Castle's diaries confided the cabinet gave him, when he suggested proportional representation, after the Liberals got 14 seats for six million votes, in the first 1974 election.

The suspicion is that the Speakers Conference on Parliamentary Representation (formerly Electoral Reform) is just another public relations ploy of Parliament to pretend it wants to be more representative without taking the necessary means of electoral reform to truly become so.

Modern political discourse lacks either understanding or inclination for genuine democracy, as promoted by John Stuart Mill and his successors. They have included many reformers and researchers, of all political persuasions. Like Mill, H G Wells had a scientific education and was a foremost campaigner for PR by STV as the definitive method of elections.

Representation of the disabled.

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Unlike the triumphantly self-enabled, some disabled people can never be accommodated to Westminster routine. They have to be accommodated on their own terms if they are to participate in public life. This means an extension of the technology, they already rely on, to bring the political arena into their own homes, with tele-conferencing etc.

Having a severely disabled friend, I know that they bring their own unique out-look on life, that we can all learn from.
She told me how the government had told the deaf to stop using the signs for: Jew, a crookt finger, and for gays, a limp wrist.
The deaf community was seething at the insulting implication that they were racist homophobes, and at being told how to behave, as if they were naughty children.

Oliver Sachs' book on deafness showed that such shaped sign language is by far the easiest and the fastest way for the deaf to communicate, not least, starting from no linguistic medium in common. To censor sign-language, for political correctness, is to stupidly handicap the ability of the innocent deaf to communicate most efficiently.
It is also an attack on freedom of expression.

In my opinion, this blunder is typical of what Simon Jenkins called government impulse to "do something even if it's stupid." It is full of cheap substitutes, or wasteful cosmetics like the "Respect" initiative, yet another bureaucracy, to emphasise the government's denying people self-respect thru self-determination.

Appendix: the failed nuclear vested interest lobbies humanity, rather than itself, out of existence.

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Many environmentalists have stated this case better than my own attempts on my own web site. I'll just mention a few salient points here, that have a bearing on the need to protect the public interest against private interests capturing the government.
I'll say straight away that one constitutional remedy would be Equality of Lobbying. That would entail an economic franchise, with proportional representation (properly applied by STV) of all interests in the second chamber of government.

Equality of Lobbying would be a constitutional check on "casino capitalism," the gambling away the public's savings by deregulated financial institutions, that has led to the worst recession in 80 years.
It would also be a check on "crony capitalism", as is known to have swept governments across the world, "in our corrupt and undemocratic age" (which was G K Chesterton's repeated phrase).

A foremost example of this is the so-called "nuclear cronyism" of the Brown government, by the Tories before they mysteriously succumbed to the nuclear lobby themselves. Moreover, The Times (in january 2006) revealed that powerful organisations, including the nuclear and pharmaceutical industries, are funding policy reports of supposedly independent groups of MPs.

The Labour government went into the 2005 election with the 2003 report for renewable energy. But, on returning to power, launched a blitz for nuclear power "back with a vengeance." A new energy review, like the dodgy dossier promoting the Iraq war, also was not independent, amounting to government propaganda.

A Guardian reporter (Roy Greenslade in january 2008) asked why The Sunday Times story of the criminal sale of the West's nuclear secrets was not taken-up by the American media.
Moreover, the British PM has been acting the nuclear salesman to the world, tho the civil and military technology follow one from the other. It is the proverbial match throwing into (nuclear) powder kegs.

In january 2009, retired generals condemned a new Trident program as irrelevant waste. Twenty years ago, Carl Sagan and associates assessed that even a regional nuclear conflict (which would probably escalate anyway) would cause a Nuclear Winter. A rather less credible Gordon Brown used the regime in North Korea, as his excuse to rush into bolstering the nuclear vested interest with public money. It's a mockery of public debate and prudent spending.

The next general election promises to be as meaningless as the last, with the two main parties both sold on more nuclear power stations, so there is no impartial discussion and the public are given no effective choice.

The government has neglected to develop this country's abundant natural forces and the onset of a world renewable energy inventions revolution, that could give the public substantially free sources of energy.
Instead, the British government of vested interests for vested interests by vested interests wants future generations to be forever stalked by the deadly dangers and costs of radioactive waste and nuclear weapons proliferation that could cripple or even destroy advanced life on earth.

Amongst other freedoms, electoral reform by STV (and Equality of Lobbying) is needed to break the lobby-funded main parties' blockade of democracy.


Parliamentary Reform speeches of John Stuart Mill MP. (Hansard on-line. Also on my web-site.)

Lewis Baston of the Electoral Reform Society: Local Authority Elections in Scotland. (pdf).

Electoral Reform Society Parliamentary bulletin, january 2009.

My web site, on Democracy Science, includes pages on J S Mill's and H G Wells' writings on parliamentary reform:

Richard Lung.
February 2009.

Postscript (2 march 2010): Having one's evidence officially ignored.

I found out by enquiring that my evidence given above was one of the very few submissions not to be published in the Written evidence (HC 167-II). I wouldnt have minded that so much but they didnt even publicly acknowledge receipt of the hard copy, they asked for, nor provide a reference to the web link to this URL.
Of course, Ive been ignored before. That's the thankless task of a teller of inconvenient truths to those so determined as Parliament to ignore them.

So I can confirm David Nice's comment not to mention his others (HC 239-III. SC 109):

I pointed out that a proportional representation voting system such as Single Transferable Vote would automatically have the effect of improving for example the gender balance. This has been ignored.

In this third volume, a list of unprinted written evidence was given: an ethnic partisan group, three names and The Supervote Campaign.
I did not know there was such a campaign but the term, supervote was used by Joe Rogalay, in his book, Parliament For The People, as a campaigning name for STV.

The final report shows the drastic decline in support for political parties in Britain (mirrored in Europe). Throwing more public money at them (Democratic Diversity Fund) features in the recommendations how things must change if things are to stay the same.
I would sum-up the work of this Speakers Conference as the quest for how to achieve proportional representation without proportional representation.

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