Lord Tyler

In amongst the relative tedium of debates on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, there have been some moments of mind-blowing revelation. 

Labour Peer Lord Lipsey gave a vivid example of the dangers of imposing artificial turnout and acceptance thresholds on the results of votes.  He said: 

If there is a vote on this, if the threshold proposed by the Lord, Lord Davies, is to be reached, it will require 264 Peers to vote in the Content Lobby for it to be carried.  If that of the noble lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, is to be reached, we will need a total turnout of 316 peers.  And if that of the noble lord, Lord Grocott, is to be reached – 50 per cent , and 25 per cent yes – we need 395 peers to vote with 198 saying yes.  I do not see why we should have a different test for the legitimacy of the vote in the country than we have for the legitimacy of the vote in our own House.  Thresholds are arbitrary, they introduce bias, they distort debate and they have absurd consequences.”

Ironically, he did this devastating demolition job some hours after the House had supported a threshold by a margin of one vote.  He was that one vote, as he admitted at the start of his speech.  You can read his rationale here but I think his later analysis was more persuasive than his earlier apology!

15 comments for “Absurdity

  1. Carl.H
    08/02/2011 at 2:52 pm

    “The dangers of imposing artificial turnout and acceptance thresholds”

    So you are against AV then ?

    The only thing that keeps the hypocrisy of life in perspective is that of politics.

    Worse still the fact that hypocrisy is banned from the Commons if not infact in diction.

  2. Paul
    08/02/2011 at 3:49 pm

    I still haven’t heard anyone mention how chaotic changing the voting system will be if we switch to AV and there is a local election on the same day in future years.

    Potentially, asking people to rank candidates in a general election and put a cross for local elections will lead to confusion and hundreds of thousands of void votes. We saw this happen a couple of years ago in Scotland.

    If you change one voting system, you should change the rest of them too.

  3. Anglo irishman
    08/02/2011 at 4:57 pm

    I think this discussion highlights the untidy way in which the referendum, once regarded as wholly alien to the British Parliamentary way has crept in with every one being held as a “one off”.

    It is too much to hope perhaps that someone will introduce a referendum act which lays down how a referendum is to be held on a Bill, and states, say, that Royal Assent may not be given to any Bill which is declared in its preamble to be subject to the Referendum Act, until the procedures followed in the Referendum Act have been carried out…

    That would stop opportunistic seeming ad hoc rules regarding thresholds etc being introduced.

    • Maude Elwes
      08/02/2011 at 6:37 pm

      Why is AV so scary to these people?

      Could it be they fear they will never be elected again if the electorate has a real say in who they put in the so called ‘safe seats’? Safe for whom I’d like to know?

      Our system of first past the post is a joke and needs to be brought into the modern world.

      And, yes, referendum. Regularly and always if the people call for it in enough numbers. Just as in Switzerland. That is what Democracy is. The will of the people.

      Only duplicitous politicians fear the voice of the voter. Only those who know they are hiding their true agenda. Is it humorous to expect to be told what these people are going to be up to?

      Do you think for one minute Blair would have been elected if he had declared his true New Labour policies. Not a chance in hell.

      We have yet to see the moves of this coalition in the round.

      • Carl.H
        09/02/2011 at 11:41 am

        AV is a bodge it is neither PR or FPTP.

        If you are for more democracy or people power as a lot would put it by all means go for proportional Representaion.

        AV is a system that gives 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th favorite votes equal legitimacy as a first. Not only that but it doesn’t give that legitimacy to all voters, not everyones second or third etc., choice will be counted.

        The system gives a possible 500 votes in a 5 horse race, 100 voters, yet the 50% mark is 50 votes. It automatically discludes candidates in certain rounds which in my opinion is undemocratic.

        The appearance of the voting will appear deceptive to many and I believe the public will become more apathetic to voting as some will see the system as rigged.

        It is not the preferred method of the Conservative Party, the same applies to the Lib-Dems who would prefer PR. Labour are undecided as I see it.

        The AV referendum is merely a sweety given to the children to keep them quiet and in order at present. It is not a serious Constitutional change that Parliament in general backs. The cost of such is exorbitant, the likelyhood is that most will campaign against AV and quite rightly.

        The Lib-Dems have again betrayed people, first the students and now the Party. They have accepted merely a referendum on a system that is complex and unlikely to be accepted.

        By all means Maude fight for PR, I can understand that in principle, in terms of appearing fair and the greater amount of democracy it would yield. Personally I feel it would lead to more coalitions with unworkable Governments but that is just my view.

        Maude in AV you are settling for something not so far from FPTP when what you scream for is the more democratic structure to elections that would be PR.

        As in AV this would be a second choice to a lot of people. Surely if you want something that represents you and your views you won’t settle for a bodge ?

        • Maude Elwes
          10/02/2011 at 9:17 am

          @Carl.H. Yes AV is inadequate and what I want is one man one vote and whoever is the party with the largest amount of votes is the truly elected government of the majority.

          However, more than that, the present system of three parties, all playing to the same tune is no longer acceptable. We end up with the continuing policy from one government to another. Look at what is currently taking place. Identical outcomes to the outvoted New Labour PC brigade. It is not a government of the majority. And what irks me is, all those within Parliament know full well what the majority of its voters want. And they ignore it completely, even when advised by our MP’s.

          And again, there must be no taxation without representation.

          The spending habits of any party has become a joke. They flop from one disaster to another and ignore the voice of the people. Whilst playing roulette with our money. This is not what they are in power to do.

          Additionally, parties misinform the public on so many extremely important issues it is difficult to make responsible judgment when at the ballot box.

  4. Malden Capell
    08/02/2011 at 8:01 pm

    We have thresholds in politics all the time, Lord Tyler – we call them quorums.

    We would be very unhappy if our representatives did not bother to vote and permit unwanted legislation through in their absence. So why should the apathetic electorate be permitted?

    • johnsdmiles@gmail.com
      09/02/2011 at 4:50 pm

      Malden’s political thresholds, qua quorums, exist all the way down through civil-service tribunals (where often only one of the three appointees is in attendance) to qangos and local neighbourhood and charity committees, where a de facto quorum of three, with their own closed and exclusive little telephone-linkup, rules the roost;

      there indeed you have Apathy, but of the malfeasaqnce variety, on the part of the (high-up) aborogational non-attending other committee members;

      is it not an equally cowardly malfeasance to call the spiritual sovereign-power of Democracy, namely the electorate, apathetic ?

      The People are by no means apathetic.
      Malden Capell conflates – as do majorities of governance-involved commenters – non-enablement, disempowerment, puppetising, manipulation and exploitation of numbers of People by governments, political-parties and vested-interest camp-followers such as the Media, with apathy.

      There is wider Conflation within Lord Tyler’s “Absurdity” post, i.e. of Quantity (of votes/voters) with Quality (or cogency, validity, fairness) of the eventual outcome for the People and especially for those non-enabled, or disabled, from effective democratic participation.

      jsdm 1651W090211.

  5. Senex
    08/02/2011 at 8:26 pm

    I noticed that Labour sent a bouquet to the creature from the black lagoon and ‘Management Information Services’ used Ikebana techniques to rearranged the flowers before handing them over in a vase, bug free.

  6. Gareth Howell
    09/02/2011 at 3:40 pm

    I gave up thinking about European politics when they introduced a funny new system, but there are people who delight in their intricacies and get elected as a consequence.

    I was distinctly interested when there were party lists, but they dropped them in 1984; it seemed as though all the candidates were being chosen by the Earls of the UK, on the Tory side, if not the gracious dukes.

    Saying that I am an even more convinced democrat now, very much in favour of AV; I do not understand it; I will follow instructions for the casting of my votes if it is adopted.

    AV+ might well have been better, and on good advice.

    • Maude Elwes
      10/02/2011 at 11:14 am

      EU Human Rights Bill was drawn up in the main by British Lawyers. If they didn’t want what we have in Europe why didn’t they, at the allocated time, put forward what they did want.

      You also know full well that there are British judges in European courts, making the decisions as we write. Why do you pretend otherwise?

      The introduction of PR is down to the European Lisbon Treaty, which our consecutive governments signed up for. Now you want to go back on the contract because a European Court, with its British Judges, has decided on these matters and made clear, long ago, that prisoners would or shoud have, the right to vote?

      Is this a Parliament of sane people or not?

      Do you really believe the government who claims to be ‘sick’ at the thought of prisoners having a vote, but, at the same time, consent the Lords to be infiltrated with ‘ex prisoners’ who are paid to vote on the decisions of our future. That is okay, but, not to vote whilst ‘in jail’ because the EU Courts said so?.

      This is a ludicrous attitude. And it is about time these leaders we have, both sides of the House, grew up.

  7. Lord Blagger
    09/02/2011 at 7:09 pm

    We would be very unhappy if our representatives did not bother to vote and permit unwanted legislation through in their absence. So why should the apathetic electorate be permitted?


    They are apathetic because the have sussed the game.

    Namely, elect an representative, and they do what they want to do, not what they said. They also do lots of things they kept secret, because if they told you, you wouldn’t vote for them.

    Replace it with a system where the electorate have a direct say on any issue, and you will see voting go up.

    For the apathetic, allow them to nominate someone as a proxy.

  8. Bedd Gelert
    09/02/2011 at 10:36 pm

    You can’t fault that frighteningly democratic and egalitarian Old Etonian James Landale for taking an interest in the House of Lords…


    Trouble is, he hasn’t been reading the script and is talking about ‘reform’. I mean, I know you want to be admirably courteous and classless, but steady on old boy…

    • Maude Elwes
      10/02/2011 at 11:54 am

      Regardless of what you think of their methods and their policies, at very least, the Labour Peers are acting as a powerful Opposition.

      Something the Tories didn’t bother to do in the thirteen years of Labour rule.

      They, as I recall, were the most ineffective Opposition we ever had. Hence the reason we are in the mess we are in today.

      The blame for our current predicament falls equally on both side of the House.

  9. MilesJSD
    25/02/2011 at 12:50 pm


    “blame” fine,

    but, pray, WHAT is going to ‘pay’ the hugely-runaway and extinction-threatening Earth-Lifesupports OVERDRAFT ?

    because don’t let us kid ourselves, nor anybody else, that human governance ever will

Comments are closed.