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Monday, November 14, 2011

Diversity or bust?

A headline like "Give MPs more benefits, says diversity report" is bound to raise a few hackles, which is presumably why the Independent chose to use it, however on reading the article it soon becomes clear that the sub-editors were thinking of a different piece.

The suggestion is actually that candidates, not MPs, should have a statutory right to time off work and state funds to cover loss of income in an effort to encourage more diversity. However, it is not clear how the authors propose to fund this, nor how they suggest we get acceptance amongst businesses or the public for what effectively is a backdoor way of funding political parties.

I am though sympathetic. They are correct in identifying that the cost of candidature both in terms of money, time and the impact on family life is a major deterrent to some high quality candidates. Unless there are support mechanisms in place then many people are not in a position to put themselves forward. That though is a matter that should be addressed by the political parties themselves.

The quickest way to secure more diversity amongst the political elite who do get elected is to change the voting system so as to make it fairer. At least then those who are interested in standing will know that there is a chance of success, simply because the way people vote will be reflected in the outcome.
But that's the problem Peter, the coalition offered a referendum on changing the voting system that was only approved in Edinburgh Central, Glasgow Kelvin, Oxford, Cambridge, Haringey, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Lambeth and Southwark.

My suggestion would be to allow ordinary people to be able to start the nominating process (like a sort of US primary election).
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