After the headlines this morning at 7:00, the Today programme had an interview with an MP from a committee on revitalising Britain's democracy. People reckon there is a problem because turn-out for the last general election was the lowest since 1918. The government is going to do all sorts of “mechanical” things, like investigate the possibility of internet and telephone voting. The MP said that we still use a system that Gladstone would recognise, pencils on paper in polling stations.
At the same time, the government is due to announce its plans for the reform of the House of Lords today. Apparently, it wants to have no more than 20% of its members directly elected. The rest will be appointees. If you’re a power-crazy politician in the House of Commons that can’t stomach the idea of elected politicians in another House, outside of your direct control, I reckon you should make members of the Lords be chosen for life by lottery. It would make for a representative sample, and if this sort of thing was good enough for the Athenians why shouldn’t it be good enough for us?
Of course, what they didn’t touch on, but should have, was the possibility of proportional representation. If people knew that their votes would actually contribute to the election of members of Parliament, they might be more inclined to go out there and do it. Consider my constituency, Cambridge. The results for this constituency show that 23000 votes were wasted; they weren’t cast for the winner of the seat, so tough luck. (Anne Campbell won the seat with 19000 votes.)
In other news, I’m pleased to announce that I’m now a syndicated columnist. This site for the “senior community” has started to put selected book reviews of mine up in their book review section. I wonder if I should ask them to link back to these pages as well.