The prorogation shambles has highlighted the weakness in our constitution: we’re constantly just a hair’s breadth from chaos. And the gentlemen’s agreements that hold our fragile democracy together are often only as good as the paper they’re not written on.
The rusted levers of our democracy are long overdue an upgrade. Take the Lords: the fact that over half our parliament is unelected ignores the voice of voters. And as The Independent has long made clear, Westminster’s undemocratic voting system leaves millions of voters ignored at every election.
The winner-takes-all mentality of first-past-the-post elections encourages parties to ignore everyone except the base they need to win. It’s no surprise our politics are so polarised and toxic. Countries with fairer electoral systems see cross-party collaboration not as a betrayal, but as something essential for the common good.
We can no longer avoid discussing how to reform our broken system. It’s now time to set out a positive path for how politics works via a “constitutional convention” of citizens.
We can all agree that power is too distant, out-of-touch and centralised. Now we urge all parties to back the Electoral Reform Society and others’ call to do what’s right, and work together to find a way forward.
Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society
Protecting the Union
The Westminster leader of the SNP, Ian Blackford, has now made clear the price of SNP support for a possible future Labour government will be a second independence referendum. It will be an odd look for a new Labour prime minister of the UK to dangle a route to the break-up of that union as an incentive for others to back him.
Perhaps some elsewhere in the UK might be prepared to contemplate that cost to see their party in power, but many who value Scotland’s positive place in the UK would sadly conclude there’s now one less party they can vote for.
Getting housing right
I totally agree with the points raised regarding a review of housing benefits and affordable rental property. However, more and more private landlords are being forced to reconsider the property investment/letting market in view of the crackdown on tax benefits, extra stamp duty on buying more properties and the prospect of Mr Corbyn as prime minister.
Surely a total rethink is necessary on our housing problem, from more affordable housing being built, investment by councils to not punishing the supposed “greedy landlord”. Supply and demand hold sway in all areas, and just highlight the lack of overall long-term investment by successive councils and governments.
What really matters
The skies will not fall down if the UK leaves the EU on 31 October. We will still have insurmountable obstacles that have eluded us since time immemorial: from time travel to climate change, overpopulation, species extinction, the mysteries of DNA. Let alone the underfunding and understaffing of public services, cuts, the gender pay gap, religious prejudices, homelessness and housing shortages.
The complexities of the universe remain as elusive and intertwined as ever. Time to refocus our energies on unlocking them for the betterment of humanity.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
Not my cup of tea
Following on from my protest regarding the use of leaf blowers, I’d like to call out coffee machines that use capsules. Your Saturday IndyEats included an article introduced thus: “Quick, convenient and downright tasty, the humble coffee capsule has revolutionised our daily cuppa (part in thanks to a rather suave George Clooney).”
First, I had always thought a cuppa was tea. A coffee is a coffee. But perhaps you thought you were being witty. Second, in what way, exactly, is a coffee capsule “humble”? It’s over-packaged – and, therefore, damaging to the planet – and requires a bespoke machine. I recommend the truly humble filter or cafetière approach to a good coffee.
Third, I’m not sure I can be bothered to discuss Clooney and his advertising choices – except to say, perhaps, thank goodness he didn’t promote leaf blowers.
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