Letter: PR exercise

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I cannot be alone in wondering what, precisely, is to be treasured about the supposed link between constituent and MP. Most MPs are simply lobby fodder for their respective parties, with little chance of changing any of the substantial policies subscribed to by these parties.

When we are offered the chance to change this state of affairs, we are simply offered a supposed choice between two (very seldom seriously three) candidates who are chosen through some more or less opaque and unchallengeable party selection system, who are obliged to parade their advantages inexorably tied to a particular party manifesto. Clearly any form of PR will not, of itself, solve these problems. However, most of us share some sympathy with parts of each of the major parties' platforms, and can imagine circumstances when we could use the services of an active and relatively independent MP, with some authority over the executive.

In a naively idealistic world, we should have a regular and real opportunity to select our preferred person as our own representative from a range of different people.

As a close proxy, we might prefer a system which allowed us to express our personal rankings of such a panel of different people, and live with a democratic selection of three or more of these, relying on the probability that the chosen set of MPs would, between them, combine a majority of our particular preferences and attitudes. So much the better if we were given this opportunity every year, each year having the opportunity to reselect and re-elect one third (let us say) of our representatives.

Of course, such a system would not allow us to choose a government, only a set of representatives charged with the task of forming a government. Why not, then, to continue with the naivety, charge these selected and elected people with the task of forming a government - getting them to vote in the House of Commons for their preferred cabinet, minister by minister?

I, for one, would then be most interested to learn from my MPs whom they supported and why, and would be keen to change their minds if they disagreed with me.

I might even feel I had a plausibly direct channel into the policy and practice of the government. I suspect I am not entirely alone in my dreams, but I also imagine they will remain dreams. Pity.



Tyne & Wear