Saturday, 13 February 2010

Power to the people

Replied to a survey seeking the views of parliamentary candidates on various democratic reform proposals. In short I favour: fixed term parliaments; considerably more free votes ie not whipped, in parliament; a fair, proportional voting system (either Single Transferable Vote or Additional Member systems); open primaries; lowering the voting age to 16; a recall system so that MPs can be removed by voters between elections; a fully elected House of Lords/second chamber; and more power for local communities and individuals through decentralisation and greater use of referenda. Bristol East's voters will find the views of all candidates who respond to this survey here as the election approaches (looks like I'm the only one to respond so far).

[There were no questions on this but I also favour: removing the constitutional functions of the monarchy and the drawing up of a new written constitution defining the rights and responsibilities of citizens. I'm also a campaigner against an EU superstate and against the undermining of local democracy by organisations like the World Trade Organisation] Details of the DEMREF 2010 project and its survey questions below (slightly edited version of what I was sent):

On 12 February, DEMREF 2010 went live on the internet to allow ordinary voters to freely download the views of candidates on key questions about democratic, constitutional and political reform which will be centre-stage in the General Election debate.

DEMREF 2010 aims to be a comprehensive, constituency-by-constituency listing of where prospective parliamentary candidates in England stand on mainstream reforms that may - or may not - help to restore public confidence following the expenses scandal.

From the 12 February launch, voters will be alerted to the DEMREF 2010 listing via an internet/email campaign, advertising in local newspapers and news coverage in the regional and national press and broadcast media, as well as promotions at events.

The DEMREF project is organised by http://www.polinfluence.com/

Q. FIXED-TERM PARLIAMENTS. Do you agree with fixed-term parliaments or do you oppose them?

I do not support fixed-terms
I support fixed-terms - YES
I am undecid

Q. FREE VOTES. Do you think that there should be fewer, more or roughly the same number of free votes (votes not subject to party whip) in Parliament?

I would like considerably more free votes - YES
I would like more free votes
I believe we should have roughly the same number of free votes as at present
I would like fewer free votes
I would like considerably fewer free votes
I am undecided

Q. VOTING SYSTEM. Do you think that the present voting system for Westminster elections should maintained or should the voting system be reformed?

I am undecided
I support maintaining the present voting system (first past the post)
I support reform of the voting system (single transferable vote) - YES
I support reform of the voting system (alternative vote)
I support reform of the voting system (alternative vote plus)
I support reform of the voting system (other system)... Please state other system using no more than 10 words: I also support proportional voting systems such as the Additional Member one
*
Q. OPEN PRIMARIES. Do you agree with open primaries for candidate selection or do you oppose them?

I do not support open primaries
I do not support open primaries but I do support primaries with defined electorates
I support open primaries - YES
I am undecided
*
Q. VOTING AGE. Do you think that the voting age should remain at 18 or should it be lowered to 16?

I believe the voting age should be lowered to 16 - YES
I believe the voting age should remain at 18
I am undecided

Q. RECALLING MPS. Are you open to the idea of having a mechanism whereby constituents can vote on the recall of their MP in instances of "serious wrongdoing" or do you oppose having such a mechanism to recall MPs?

I am open to the idea of having a mechanism to recall MPs - YES
I am against having a mechanism to recall MPs
I am undecided

Q. HOUSE OF LORDS. What is your view on the composition of the House of Lords/second chamber?

I am undecided
I support maintaining the House of Lords in its present form
I support maintaining the House of Lords in its present form, but without hereditary members
I support a fully elected House of Lords/second chamber - YES
I support a House of Lords/second chamber with the majority of members being elected, but with some additional expert appointees
I support abolition of the House of Lords
I support a different composition for the House of Lords/second chamber... Please state proposed composition using no more than 10 words [type your max 10 word answer here]

Q. OTHER REFORMS. In no more than 20 words, please list other reforms/changes/measures that you believe would improve democracy/politics.
- More power for local communities and individuals through decentralisation and greater use of referenda

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