Friday, 23 July 2010

The £10m Question

I know it's Friday, but spare a few seconds to see if you understand the following question:

'Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the "alternative vote" system instead of the current "first past the post" system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?'

Of course you understand it but the wordy question will be studied by the Electoral Commission to see if you do and, along with overseeing the referendum, the electoral watchdog is to fund a ten-week study into whether voters can understand the difference between the two systems.

None of this will be done for free of course. Taxpayers will pay the Electoral Commission around £10 million for their efforts.

Nick Clegg demanded the referendum as the price for joining the coalition government. The legislation that paves the way for the referendum will also cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600, which involves the redrawing of the boundaries of hundreds of constituencies. In addition, the Westminster government published legislation paving the way for five-year fixed term parliaments.

The Electoral Commission will hand £1.2 million of taxpayers' money to politicians on either side of the debate to fund their campaigns. Jenny Watson, the commission's chairman who refused to acknowledge the poor operations in certain cities in England during the general election, will be 'chief counting officer' for the referendum. Hasn't she moved on to another quango yet?

In total, the organisation estimates its costs will run to at least £9.3 million but the Cabinet Office concedes that the final bill to the taxpayer is likely to be much higher.

Back to the referendum question. Don't taxpayers fund a minimum of 11 years of full-time education for our children to learn and understand basic English? Have the education systems of England and Scotland been so dumbed down that people are unable to comprehend a simple sentence? A couple of Public Service videos on the BBC, explaining the differences between the AV system and FPTP, for a few days before voting takes place surely would be sufficient.

The only referendums I would consider would be value for money concern the EU and independence for Scotland.

It's reported the Scottish labour backbencher Tommy Doherty is to table an amendment to change the date of the proposed referendum on AV. The move is expected to win enough backing from Tory rebels to defeat the coalition government. Also it's said senior Tory backbencher Bernard Jenkin is preparing to publish two early day motions (EDMs) demanding a change of date and that the referendum would only be valid with a minimum threshold, probably 40%, of voter turn out. It's not looking too good for Mr Clegg is it?


Oldrightie said...

No to the question and NO to the loss of £10 million quid to a bloody Quango!

Joe Public said...

"'Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the "alternative vote" system instead of the current "first past the post" system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?'"

May I have an alternative option?

subrosa said...

Aye OR and that particular quango too.

subrosa said...

Joe, please email:

Dramfineday said...

No surprise there then, turkeys not voting for christmas!

Sophia Pangloss said...

Wi a bit o' work an' guid luck this damnable referendum will nivver happen. Wrang question, at the wrang time, an' hated by maist fowk. Jist ask us if we want Independence, we've awready got a modern electoral system.

subrosa said...

Exactly Dram. The tories and labour would never get back in. Don't think the answer will be yes.

subrosa said...

Too modern with that electronic counting system Sophia.

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