Another defeat

Lord Norton

The Government suffered another defeat in the House on Monday on an amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.  The amendment provides that the referendum on the Alternative Vote must be held before 31 October 2011.  It was carried by 199 votes to 195.  The voting was interesting:

For the amendment: Labour 149, Crossbench 42, Other 5, Conservative 3.

Against: Conservative 117, Liberal Democrat 62, Crossbench 13, Other 3.

As can be seen, the Government lost because of (a) the cross-benchers dividing disproportionately against the Government and (b) three Conservatives voting for the amendment.  Had the three voted with the Government, the amendment would have been defeated.    Unlike the other two most recent defeats, had all the new peers recently announced been introduced in time for the vote (and voted) the Government would have won the vote.

8 comments for “Another defeat

  1. Croft
    09/12/2010 at 1:14 pm

    Could you explain what the point of this amendment was I don’t really see the gain here?

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      10/12/2010 at 12:13 am

      Croft: I think the argument for it was that it gives the Government flexibility. The timetable for 5 May is tight and if it looks as if the legislation cannot be got through in time then one can opt for a later date.

      • Croft
        10/12/2010 at 2:04 pm

        But if all it did was give the government more time to hold the referendum and did not prevent the governments preferred day why did they oppose it. I’m struggling for the politics here.

  2. Carl.H
    09/12/2010 at 1:19 pm

    “Had all the new peers recently announced been introduced in time for the vote (and voted) the Government would have won the vote.”

    We can only really look at the facts, less than 400 voted and saying if the 15 had been there is neither here nor there because what if the other 350 odd had been there too. So we have to stick to facts though I get your drift.

    Looking at the facts one can see the party cohesion that is still present in the House though there were 3 Tory rebels. Personally I don`t feel this is enough to state catagorically the House is made up of independent minds though the cross benchers go someway to rectifying this.

    We have at present a HoL where it is beneficial to belong to a party, where the authority in the House is the three main parties, this wrong in my opinion.I think the House needs a more independent approach, even moreso since the parties keep packing the place with politicians with little expertise outside the political field.

    Lord Rookers amendment in my mind should have been viable to all it merely stated that the referendum should take place before October 31st 2011, it DID NOT rule out May 5th and I could not see a problem with to the Government. I don`t want a referendum or should I say this particular one at all, the question is wrong not enough variation in types of voting and there is no need for it considering most or nearly all of Parliament don`t really want AV. The Tories are planning to campaign against, as is Labour which makes a mockery of the fact that Government represents a majority, in this case we are seeing a bill supported by less than 10% of the House of Commons forced through. It`s a waste of resources and time in my opinion. The fact that the Electoral Commission feel unsure that it can succeed successfully in the timescale puts a big question mark over the bill. This is a constitutional issue and should not in anyway be rushed.

    If the cuts start to hurt people before May and the Tories are loudest on the “NO change” campaign there will be a public backlash against them, without real electoral thought going into the process. I feel that whichever way the Government campaigns the vote will go the opposite. It is not the way to decide an issue such as this, let alone the question being wrong and the fact that AV is complex,unfair and brings about results which are wrong and will be questioned by the public.

    People, experts may say this style of electoral process, AV, is a fair system, I`ve studied the examples and it doesn`t appear to me to be so. It`s not JUST a question of being fair it IS a question of appearing fair, you must be seen to be fair.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      10/12/2010 at 12:17 am

      Carl.H: I have published research showing the extent to which peers vote on a party basis. However, the voting figures mask the extent to which peers opt not to vote with their parties (the size of a voting lobby can be instructive). Government vulnerability has been primarily because it needs to carry other parties with it, though it has at times been defeated because its own supporters have abstained or gone into the opposition lobby.

  3. Lord Blagger
    09/12/2010 at 2:21 pm

    People, experts may say this style of electoral process, AV, is a fair system, I`ve studied the examples and it doesn`t appear to me to be so. It`s not JUST a question of being fair it IS a question of appearing fair, you must be seen to be fair.

    You have to explain what you mean by ‘fair’.

    The driving force behind the change (apart from political machinations) is this. Lib dems are under represented in the commons, and the opposition want to have more of a say.

    So some lib dem voters think AV or PR will get their policies implemented.

    My view is why not avoid the sophistry. Why not give the electorate a direct say in issues.

    ie. If you’re a Labour supporter in a Tory seat, you vote counts for nowt. In practice it’s just voters in swing seats, and its just the swingers who get the say, once in 5 years.

    Most of the electorate don’t care about which MP. They want their policies. Large numbers, my self included, have been lumped as ‘antis’. By and large we’ve seen through the sham. We seen the corruption. AV just says, please legitimise my corruption. Please give me a go at the trough.

    Given the say on the issues, yes or no, whose the MP is by and large irrelevant.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      09/12/2010 at 3:55 pm

      Lord Blagger: This is rather worrying, I agree with your first point. I agree that those who argue that AV produces ‘fairer’ voting have to explain what they mean by fair. One can make an equally strong case for the existing system being ‘fair’. I agree with your analysis of what drives the demands for change. I do not not agree, though, that if you vote for a candidate of A in a safe seat held by party B that your vote is necessarily wasted. I have voted in such circumstances but never regarded my vote as wasted. It is a way of making public your support for a particular party. As for people who may be turned off by the parties, see my response to IanVisits on the issue of compulsory voting.

  4. Carl.H
    09/12/2010 at 4:41 pm

    As promoted by James Duddridge Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East, in his Christmas e-newsletter.

    Well done James Duddridge for keeping the electorate upto date.

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