A New Electoral System

Overview

Rise will abolish the House of Lords (HoL) and the House of Commons (HoC) replacing them with two new houses. For the sake of this article let us call them the First House and the Second House. The First House will be primarily the legislative house while the Second House will carry out oversight. There will be a gateway for the Second House to introduce legislation. This process is described in more detail in the section Second House.

Although political parties will still exist, after all Rise is a political party, we will change the contract so MPs are responsible to their constituents. This is explained in further detail in the section The Manifesto Contract.

We will end the present archaic practices and the false belief of many MPs that they are wiser than the public and as such are at liberty to make decisions against the wishes of the people. We don’t want to neuter our politicians, but they should be answerable for the decisions they make. Politicians with integrity and passion will happily work with their constituents to make decisions that best serve their communities.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

A major change we will introduce is the selection of 5% of government by lottery. This may sound like an incredibly strange thing to do but consider that we’ve been choosing much of the HoL by the lottery of birth and favours owed by funded politicians. See the section Election By Lottery for more details.

We will create a modern, purpose-built parliament somewhere in the centre of the UK. See the section Parliament.

You will see in the following sections that we will create a mixed model. We will still have first past the post (FPTP) for constituencies, but this will be handled completely differently, and it is important to understand that members chosen by FPTP will form only 47% of the total number of MPs. Members of the Second House will be chosen by proportional representation and the two houses will complement each other.

First House

We believe there is a place for constituency MPs to be chosen by the highest number of votes received within their constituency. The problem is that the system in its present form doesn’t serve the people it is supposed to represent. The balance of local constituency work and national representation is not met and cannot be met. At the national level MPs primarily represent their party and its diktats, and this often bears little or no relation to the expectations of the majority at local level. This can be seen in the very low voter engagement in UK politics.

The First House will closely align their role as constituency MP with their national role. To achieve this we would look to change how constituency MPs are contracted to their constituency. With our model the candidate would:

  • Contract to the manifesto they presented when standing for election.
  • Be subject to rules and penalties in place to ensure MPs keep to their manifesto commitments.
  • Seek approval from their constituents should an MP wish to diverge from a manifesto commitment.
  • Where legislation is proposed by other parties which is not in the MPs manifesto, the MP would consult with their constituents to ascertain a voting position.
  • Approach their constituents to agree an approach where new policies come to light due to changing circumstances.

We are very fortunate to be in an age where seeking public engagement is straightforward. Electronic ballots can be instigated through a government portal. It is the responsibility of the MP to ensure their voting intention is made public and open to scrutiny and interrogation.

Rise believes that this model will increase voter engagement, evolve government from being in power to being in service, ensure a clearer map for national improvement and ensure better outcomes when implementing policy.

Rise has created a policy hub to allow interrogation of our policies and as a government we would implement such a model, with openness about risks, issues, and resolutions for policies.

Second House

The Second House will be selected using proportional representation. Members will be paid a salary identical to the salary of the members of the First House.

Initially we wouldn’t look to have a complex model for proportional representation, but the model may well change over time to improve the way it works. Voters would vote for their constituency MP for the First House and vote for a party for the Second House.

Once the votes are counted, then the members of the Second House will be selected from a list based on percentage of vote share. To ensure independents have the opportunity to be elected for the Second House 10% of places would be reserved (60 places). The independents with the highest vote would be selected based on these reserved positions.

Votes would be counted at a national level. This guarantees representation of smaller parties in the Second House. There may need to be some kind of weighting put in place to avoid the two houses being mirror images, although this is highly unlikely.

The candidates / MPs from the Second House would be contracted to their party manifesto.

The Houses Working Together

Each house will contain the following makeup of MPs:

House 1600 elected
30 MPs chosen by lottery
House 2600 elected
30 MPs chosen by lottery

Figure 1 shows how Bills are passed back and forth as now, but if the process is exhausted, then both houses come together to vote as one.

The First House is working to meet the manifesto that the winning party had in place. However there will be space for other policies to be proposed.

Although the Second House’s main role is oversight, it will be able to submit a number of policies to the First House. These will be selected on a priority basis and will be targeted at letting the smaller parties promote policies, for example over a single issue. The policies will be voted on in the Second House and then submitted to the First House. Should the policy fall at the First House then it will immediately go to a joint vote as described in point 3.

The First House is the main house for processing legislation, however both houses have equal standing. Presently if the HoL amends or rejects a piece of legislation after some back and forth it can still be pushed through. With the new setup, should there be disagreement on a piece of legislation, both houses will join in a single voting process. Amendments will be voted on and then finally the bill if agreement cannot be made earlier in the process. 

Scheduling Bills in the First House

The first few months of a new government will be focused on implementing their most pressing policies. These would most likely be policies that are mainly around public funding and can be put in place with little intervention from other parties. For example this could be ending homelessness or an increase in funding to councils.

A formal policy scheduling process would take place once a government is formed, but this should not stop the government from moving forward with their agenda in the meantime as shown in Figure 2.

10 policies can be added from the main opposition party manifesto. These must be policies that are not covered by the government manifesto. For example if the government has a policy to increase the minimum wage, the opposition cannot submit a policy to keep the minimum wage as it is, or this would mean the policy would be voted on twice. The Second House can also submit 10 policies and are subject to the same rules. The only difference being that the process for policies coming from the Second House will be simpler as, should their policy fail to be ratified by the First House, it will go directly to a joint vote.

It will be down to the opposition and the Second House to decide which policies have enough priority to be included in the First House delivery schedule. The schedule will have slots allocated for the 20 policies to ensure they are included in a timely manner. They won’t be one-day motions in that they’ll have the same gravity as a policy submitted by the government.

The Manifesto Contract

Just taking Labour as an example, they have said it is too far from an election to have detailed policies. This would suggest they rely on focus groups to point them in a direction and wait to see which way the wind is blowing when an election is called.

Rise believes a manifesto should be developed over time. For example Rise has nearly 800 policies defined. Some may change over time and certainly new ones will be added, but the core of policies will change little. Parties either believe in something or they don’t. A political party will end involuntary homelessness, or it won’t. Waiting for an election to be called before announcing the policy makes no sense.

By defining policies we can build detail allowing problems to be identified. We work on the principle that every policy should have the following:

  • Policy
  • Description
  • Policy Paper detailing the solution in detail
  • Any risks listed and mitigated
  • Issues identified and a resolution plan in place
  • Costings where appropriate
  • Benefits (these can be compared with issues to decide whether a policy goes ahead)
  • Schedule for delivery

We are still in the process of building much of the above. Our policies can be seen at https://thepolicyhub.org.uk

But onto the subject of what we would introduce when in government. At the moment manifestos mean very little. They are a marketing document produced just before a general election and when government breaks the pledges they simply respond with “circumstances change”. This can be seen with the present government that broke manifesto pledges on National Insurance, triple lock, homes sold for care and many more. (https://bylinetimes.com/2022/04/06/boris-johnson-conservative-broken-manifesto-promises-2019/). We can see where Labour stands on pledges with Starmer breaking pretty much all his pledges to become leader and as for the Lib Dems, we only need to look to their coalition years to see how they regard promises made to gain votes.

We first of all will ensure our candidates sign off a contract to meet the manifesto they stand on. While obviously they could not fully control what legislation is put before parliament, they have a clear map of what they should vote for or against. We are not interested in abstaining regardless of how that would be painted by the press. Once in government we would introduce laws that ensure all parties are obligated to their manifesto.

It is true to say circumstances do change, but it is how these changes are managed that is wrong. Through technology the MP will have to approach his constituents should he wish to vote differently to the contract he has made. Should new policies come to light, the MP must also seek approval from their constituents. The only exception to this would be where a new policy is introduced by a government that we could not vote for because it contravened our Charter of Justice. In that case we would explain our voting intention based on the requirement to meet our party obligation. An example of this could be where a party in government proposed introducing capital punishment. Our constituents may well wish to vote for it, but it would break our own charter. In that case our constituents would need to vote for a different party at the next election if they felt strongly enough about the issue.

To protect us all from rogue parties we would introduce legislation where all parties would need to have a charter of justice, or at least core principles. This would ensure parties are clear about what their values are and are answerable should they wish to break them. It brings the hypocrite into the light so to speak.

Where members of parliament vote against the manifesto they are contracted to, they can be fined, be subject to a vote of confidence and even deselected.

Election By Lottery

As per our policy https://thepolicyhub.org.uk/wiki/P0831 we will introduce MP selection through lottery for 5% of members. This will apply to both houses. These members will carry out the same duties as a MP elected via a vote. Their term will be for 5 years, as will be the case with elected MPs. They can enter the lottery to try secure a second term, but obviously will have equal chance as anybody else. They can also then stand as a constituency MP or a Second House MP for a party or as an independent.

These members will be paid the same wage as an elected MP. As they will have no constituency responsibilities as such, they won’t have a constituency office.

When in office they are able to take the whip with any particular party should they wish.

The lottery is open to anyone except those serving prison sentences or individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes in the past, such as murder, rape, or child abuse.

Parliament

It’s hardly a new idea on our part to create a new parliament. The London centric nature of politics and the economy in the UK is something that needs resolving. Parliament is still based in the old boys club, with restaurants, subsidised bars and a sense of privilege.

We would:

  • Create a parliament in a central location in the UK.
    • Either with good existing rail, road, and air links or with the space to create them.
    • Space to develop a community.
  • The parliament would have modern facilities which is difficult to achieve in the present parliament building.
  • It wouldn’t just be an issue of location, but also a change in working practices.
    • A set working week.
    • Holiday patterns as in other jobs rather than parliament recess.
    • A Subsidised canteen, but an end to up-market restaurants.
    • A Creche for both MPs and employees.
    • Electronic voting
  • Housing and hotels would be built.
    • Houses would not be exclusively for MPs. The houses would be a mixture of private and public housing.
    • MPs would have options to book a house when needed or book a house for their term.
    • Hotels would be built to accommodate those MPs who prefer that option.
    • This would be a town with all the facilities you would expect.
  • The purpose of the London parliament building will be reviewed to establish how best it can be utilised.

In summary a modernised parliament would refocus it on serving the public. It would be a crucial restart to our political attitudes.

Voting Age

We will reduce the voting age to 16

Voting App

Rise will review introducing a voting app. There is obviously security concerns with such a system for voting but we would look to overcome such issues. For example it is possible for logins for the system to be issues randomly and to keep the voting system isolated from the system that issued the number. But in reality there are always ways to find out how someone voted, even in the present system.

If we did introduce an app system for voting we would still keep all the present methods of voting.

This article is addition and an update to a previous article Erase and Rewind – Governance Policy. It is worth reading the previous artice as it provides the information in a different format which can be helpful.

Why don’t you Join Us and help build our policies and community projects.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.