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Friday, May 22, 2009

The things that they say part two

As if it was not bad enough that he spent taxpayers money on treating 500 trees in the grounds of his house, Tory MP Sir Anthony Steen has hit out at his constituents for forcing his retirement from Westminster.

The MP appeared on Radio 4's The World at One to lash out at constituents who objected to his claim for the treatment of the trees. "I've done nothing criminal, that's the most awful thing, and do you know what it's about? Jealousy," Steen said. "I've got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral."

With an attitude like that I am astonished he got elected in the first place but then that is the problem with our electoral system, it creates personal fiefdoms that are almost impossible to breach. The fact that MPs think that they are untouchable means that they think they can get away with unacceptable behaviour.

A number of people have said that the only way to resolve this is a quick General Election. I agree that the Country needs to have the opportunity to vote on the next Government. My problem though is that without fundamental constitutional reform we will be just replacing one set of complacent politicians with another.

We have to do away with safe seats such as those occupied by Sir Anthony Steen and take away the power of political parties as the sole arbiter of suitability in such constituencies. The only way to do that is a system of Proportional Representation known as the single transferable vote in which we have multi-member constituencies, often represented by more than one party, in which voters choose the most suitable representative of their party of choice.

I can think of no better way to keep MPs on their toes and in touch with the views and feelings of their electors.
I sincerely hope the netttle is grasped out of this expenses furore, and constitutional reform should be part of that.
Just be grateful itb wasn't one of yours who gave such an appalling interview.
I am Glyn but I was using it to make a wider point about constitutional reform rather than focussing on him in a party political way.
PR is a better system than first past the post. It gives a better indication of how the nation actually voted and promotes plurality of viewpoint in the house to a greater extent. But we are locked in tradition...
Why do you assume that under STV parties will provide sufficient candidates for voters to make such a choice? If a rational nominating party has at best a chance of winning only one seat, it will only field one candidate to maximise its chances of return, not field three to shred the vote. Your sister party in Northern Ireland, the Alliance, almost never fields a second candidate for either Assembly or Euro elections. As long as sufficient numbers will always vote for a party there will always be safe seats for parties, no matter what voting system is used. STV is not going to be a magic wand to end the expenses scandal.
You are right of course that political parties will only field as many candidates as they have quotas, however STV remains more responsive than first past the post and gives the voters more choice. It is also the case that it better facilitates independents and will therefore reduce the number of 'safe' seats that we currently have.
I hope all 500 trees enjoyed their treat. I for one don't begrudge the money at all - it's time something was done for them.
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