It may not have made any great headlines, but Nick Clegg’s defeat on new rules for a fixed term parliaments is a real victory for democracy.
Nick Clegg’s original proposal for fixed term parliaments was a blatant gerrymander and I’ve outlined my fear that his proposals for the Alternative Vote are another gerrymander on Labour List.
The coalition government has so far cherry picked half-hearted constitutional reforms that serve its narrow interests without regard to any long-term consequences.
The revised proposal is a genuine reform. Setting the threshold for a dissolution vote at two-thirds, makes it very unlikely the prime minster of the day would be able to call an election to suit his or her own agenda, while the two-week time limit protects against a zombie parliament.
This also shows that if pressure is applied in the right way, the coalition government can be forced to democratise its proposals.
The Alternative Vote is not a system of proportional representation. It may create more Lib Dems, but Electoral Society projections show it won’t help smaller parties. And the Conservatives obviously like the idea of reducing the number of MPs in places they can’t win like Scotland, Wales and inner cities.
Yet the Take Back Parliament campaign, a coalition of groups that have supported constitutional reform for many years shows no sign of lobbying for a system of proportional representation. When I challenged Unlock Democracy’s Peter Facey, it was clear he hadn’t thought any of this through. They seem strangely content to sign up for a reforms specifically designed to benefit the coalition parties alone.
A great, once in lifetime opportunity to democratise our electoral system is about to missed.