Dear West Country Voices,
Boris Johnson has been a good thing for this country, and no, don’t worry, I haven’t gone totally insane after years of gaslighting and government lies, so please hear me out. He has been so awful that he has finally and fully shown that the current parliamentary system based on “gentleman’s agreements” and an ethereal unwritten constitution is not fit for purpose.
He has also completely and unequivocally shown that an electoral system based on the number of unbalanced constituencies won, which allows the party that gains a minority of votes to still win and then hold absolutely all of the power is far too easily subverted by a bad actor.
Much wider electoral reform is needed, too. Proportional representation is desperately needed – a system in which you actually have to get the highest number of total votes cast in an election to win and in which every vote counts equally regardless of where you live.
From personal experience of living in a safe seat and witnessing the attitude of my local MP Sheryll Murray, who consistently ignores over 40 per cent of her constituents that didn’t vote for her, along with actively voting against the best interests of those foolhardy enough to have given her their support illustrates this problem perfectly. Check her voting record. It’s hard to find anything she votes through that has a positive impact in South East Cornwall.
A new more representative voting system also needs to be combined with automatic voter registration and education on the importance of voting and voters’ rights. We need a written constitution that cannot be changed by anything short of 90 per cent of MPs and the upper house agreeing to change. The constitution needs to be enforced by an independent agency (in the vein of the BMA for doctors or Bar Association for lawyers) that MPs must be members of and which has the power to remove MPs from post if they break the rules and ban them from further political activity if the offence is severe enough.
There must be an end to the ridiculous, out of control expenses that allow MPs to claim for everything from paperclips to hiring whole aircraft for vanity trips. MPs should have to get the cheapest hotel just like NHS staff are obliged to when they stay in London for work purposes; no second homes unless they buy it themselves from their own money. If it’s good enough for us it’s good enough for them.
Also, political parties should be state-funded, given a set budget every year and a set budget for campaigning in elections with no external donations allowed at all. The argument that this would “stop the best people applying” is clearly blown out of the water by the existence of Nadine Dorries, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson, Sheryll Murray, George Eustice etc who, based on their records, would not gain employment in any sane company or organisation outside of the parliamentary Conservative party.
MP salary increases should also be inextricably linked to that of public sector workers, too. The sight of the braying Tories who bothered to turn up to Westminster cheering when they blocked a pay-rise for the NHS whilst turning up en masse to vote for their own substantially higher pay increase the week later particularly sticks in my mind.
If we don’t deserve inflation-busting pay rises then neither do they. They certainly don’t put the same effort into their jobs as NHS and public sector employees do. Electoral reform might just redress that balance.
So, thank you, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, for all of your deep self-serving flaws, you, an American-born man have finally exposed the need for a radical overhaul of our outdated British establishment.