Westminster: November 2009 Archives
You can't argue with the quantity of blogging that Tom Harris puts in, but he will insist on being wrong. Today's egregious example is on the topic of proportional representation.
It's perhaps no surprise that someone on the hard right of the Labour Party would oppose fairer elections, and it's also pretty clear why the Scottish Parliament as a whole gets up his nose.
The issues MSPs discuss and decide upon at Holyrood tend to be the main issues of the day: there are exceptions, sure, like the economy, welcoming asylum seekers, and whatever wars Labour's gotten us into lately. Scottish MPs just don't get the limelight any more, and that must sting, especially for an ex-Minister.
Today Tom weighed in against his colleagues' doomed PR for Westminster plan, which is about twelve years too late. "In Scotland and Wales", he opined, ""assisted places scheme" MSPs and AMs represent no-one.."
In fact, Tom, 73 MSPs are elected in a relatively undemocratic manner, usually by a minority of their constituents. First Past The Post "assists" these Members, especially those like Kenny Gibson, who won his seat last time with just 30.7% of the vote. Conversely, 56 of our MSPs are elected to reflect that radical thing: the will of the electorate.
Thanks only to the PR element, the numbers of MSPs in Holyrood aren't that far from the popular will, but those 73 less democratic elections do skew things. The SNP got 33% of the constituency vote and 31% of the regional vote, but 36% of the MSPs. Labour got fewer votes in both, but still picked up 34% of the seats. Conversely, Greens got 4% of the vote and just 1.5% of the seats.
If we had to abolish one kind of MSP, Tom's preference is clear: he'd get rid of the more representative kind. I can't agree.
Suddenly, as impotence looms, Labour have gone nuclear in a major way. They aren't really making a decision, they're just clearing the way for the Tories to do so, and guaranteeing that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition will sit idly by after the election.
Nuclear remains, of course, uneconomic, which is why no stations have been built here since the dog days of the last Tory administration. If Ministers want it, we'll have to pay. The Telegraph confirms that: an average household bill will go up by £227 if this goes ahead.
Meanwhile, over at the Times, they're telling us we'll also be soaked for the £9.5bn cost of carbon capture and storage, which currently doesn't work anywhere. That's just a starting estimate based on 15 years' worth of levy, but the final figure could be twice that over 30 years.