28 December 2014

Democrats Need To Make The Most Of 2015. It Will Be The Last Hung Parliament For A Generation.

In the 2010 general election campaign, the Lib Dems campaigned against austerity and tuition fees, but they also campaigned for more democracy.

Sadly on all these issues they have done the opposite in government.

Those of us hoping for constitutional improvements have been shocked.

This 2015 election could be the last chance for smaller parties to have a say. All of the following issues will make it harder to challenge the status quo of the big two parties.

As a democrat, the last thing we needed was bigger constituencies, yet from 2018 we will get them as seat numbers fall from 650 to 600.

Radical boundary changes will also take place as strict rules on registered numbers will cut across communities. Seats will become even more arbitrary, and volatile too, as changes are made every five years. The idea of an MP representing a community will be turned into farce, as voters find they are moved from seat to seat and unable to re-elect or vote out their MP.

Individual registration will affect everyone from 2016 and make it harder to register, the mobile poor, urban and/or students are already falling off the register in their millions. This matters, as boundaries are drawn by registered numbers not those eligible. Rural seats will become smaller and more powerful and urban seats will swell in constituent size with more voters disenfranchised.

One of the biggest myths of our voting system is that urban seats are smaller than rural, they are not. In terms of both population and eligible electors they are already bigger than rural seats. Only because of lower registration and turnout do they appear smaller. And this matters because this is the criteria used. By tightening this criteria the coalition will disenfranchise urban voters even more.

Then there are 5 year parliaments. Another regressive measure removing power from voters by prolonging the length of time between elections. As 2015 will probably show, it is even ineffective at that. Elections can still happen at any time.

And finally we hear that the Tories in the last few months have quietly slipped into law a massive increase in party spending limits while a gagging law prevents charities and trade unions from campaigning.

All of this has happened with the Lib Dems consent. Truly shocking. What are they thinking?

The Tories rely on the national media and local press and leaflet campaigning that without volunteers is expensive. All of these new laws will help the Tories and disadvantage other parties who use volunteers to build support in an area over decades. Disruptive seat boundaries favour bigger parties with national backing. The 2015 parliament could be the last chance to halt these undemocratic practises. Yet no party seems to be talking about it.

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