Emma Does Politics

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Archive for the tag “House of Commons”

Electoral Reform: Voting Buttons

This guest blog entry was by David Shepheard. He is a member of UNISON, working and living in London. Views expressed in this post are those of the author only.

I was talking with a friend about politics earlier and it reminded me of something I dislike about politics. That thing is the amount of faffing about they do, with silly old rituals.

One of those things is the long process of saying “Aye” and “Nay” and ringing the Division Bell and having people walk around in lobbies. That all eats up time. And as we pay these people a ton of money to work for us, I would like them to be more economical with our time.

Voting Buttons for the House of Commons

I would like to see all of that tossed out and replaced with a bunch of buttons in front of each MP:

  • Aye
  • Nay
  • Abstain

Instead of having party whips running around and trying to get party members to obey their commands, MPs should just be told to get on with it and vote by the Speaker. And instead of having party whips calling up MPs on their mobile phones and asking them to come back from the pub to vote, they should be sitting in their seats and pressing voting buttons. We pay these people a lot of money to talk about laws and think about laws – not to sit in the pub and to come back and blindly follow the orders of a party whip like a zombie.

I would like to see those buttons send out data in real-time, so that there is an instant result, and the MPs get on with talking about the next law immediately (or after a short toilet break). They should put a gigantic screen up in the House of Commons and show the vote on a pie chart.

I would also like to see the content sent out of the House of Commons in real time, so that people can log onto a website and see instant stats for laws, as they happen. And it should be possible for people to dig into the data (to see exactly who voted for or against each law – or to see exactly what laws any MP has voted for or against).

Voting Buttons for the House of Lords

I also think there should be a similar system in the House of Lords. They should have a gigantic screen too, and it should show a queue of laws coming in from the House of Commons that they have to vote “Content” or “Not-Content” on. Again they should have buttons in front of them, this time they could read:

  • Content
  • Not-Content
  • Abstain

What I would really like to see with the House of Lords, is for them to also try to work in real-time, and work towards reducing the amount of time they take to deal with laws that are sent over from the House of Commons.

If they decide to approve or reject laws, that could be bounced back to the House of Commons in real-time. There should not really be an excuse for laws taking a long time to bounce back and forth.

Why an Abstain button?

If any MP or member of the House of Lords fails to vote in any vote that should also be recorded in the stats (so we should be able to get stats to show who is not bothering to do half their work). Abstaining is a conscious decision to avoid voting yes or no. If someone listens to the “yes” and “no” arguments and is undecided by either argument, that is fine.

But not turning up to work, without a good reason, is not acceptable. Regular people face getting the sack if they do not turn up to work. The same should apply to people in government. There should be some sort of threshold of “Failed to vote” that triggers a “dereliction of public duty” investigation, with possible removal from office being a consequence.

I even think that, if someone is too ill to get into the Houses of Parliament, that that should trigger an investigation and possible removal from office. But, as illness is not “dereliction of public duty” there should not be any disgrace to someone being too ill to be a Lord or MP. But if they cannot do the job, and arrangements cannot be made to help them do the job, they need to pass on the baton to someone else.

This guest blog entry was by David Shepheard. He is a member of UNISON, working and living in London. Views expressed in this post are those of the author only.

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