Letter: Weak links in the political chain

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The Independent Online
Sir: As an MEP for a single-member constituency, Michael Elliott (Letters, 29 May) understandably defends the close link that MPs and MEPs supposedly have with their constituents.

Putting aside the fact that three of his fellow UK MEPs are elected by a form of proportional representation - the three elected by STV in Ulster, where there is a much higher Euro-turnout - Mr Elliott seeks to perpetuate an argument for which there is little evidence. Most people do not know the name of their own MP, let alone their MEP, and this number has probably substantially increased with the high turnover in the election.

Furthermore, would a Conservative voter really have a close link with his MP in a Labour stronghold, or vice versa? Would even a Thatcherite in Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir Edward Heath's seat) or a Blairite in Chesterfield (Tony Benn's seat) feel a close affinity with his MP? The fact that many Conservative MPs in supposedly safe seats were defeated at the election just goes to show that the link is rather weak and volatile.

Mr Elliott is right to criticise impersonal list systems, but what is needed is a new electoral system that retains the tradition of constituency- based representation and gives real voter choice, for elections both to the House of Commons and the European Parliament.

MATTHEW SEWARD

London SW19

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