Sunday, 17 July 2011

Peter 'Gerrymander' Hain.

Congratulations to Matt Withers for an excellent column in today's Wales on Sunday. He takes Peter Hain to task around his suggestions that the voting system in Wales should be changed to have 60 members ALL elected by first past the post system thus guaranteeing an outright Labour majority for ever and a day. This can only be bad and basically disenfranchises everyone who voted Tory, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat in Wales and is pure 'tribalism' on Hain's part.

Peter Hain's concept of democracy is closer to the demagogic Southern politicians of the 1960's who did everything in their power to disenfranchise African Americans following the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. George Wallace and his ilk 'gerrymandered' political constituencies in Alabama and elsewhere to guarantee a permanent white majority. What is the difference in what Peter Hain is proposing in Wales, other than a permament Labour majority?

The Department of Justice under Bobby Kennedy had to intervene in the US to protect the civil rights of their citizens. Will we have in Wales to resort to the Supreme Court to ensure a right of democratic representation against the partisanship of Labour politicians?

Peter Hain should be ashamed of himself for conveniently forgetting his roots as an anti apartheid campaigner in South Africa and joining the anti-democratic inclinations of the British state.

What we want in Wales is multi-member constituencies electing 80 AM's by single transferable vote as in Ireland. STV is the only way to get proportional representation and if it doesn't deliver a permanent Labour majority that is just 'tough' on Hain; his Welsh Labour party will just have to learn the art of compromise.


Hugh Jordan (Dyffryn Ceiriog) said...

While I like the idea of STV in multi-member constituencies, and it is certainly, IMO, a vast improvement on fptp, I don't think it is proportional.

Hotpot said...

It is time for Peter Hain to butt out of domestic Welsh policies. His interventions are not welcome. In this situation his reasoning is flawed and seems to be a plan to get Labour a permanent majority.

Also it's worth also checking out John Osmond take on this story.

I am not against reform of the Assembly. As it develops further now with its law making powers, and the inherent need for further scrutiny, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we need more AMs. I agree with PlaidGwersyllt that an 80 member chamber elected by STV would be a good model to adopt.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

The PR-STV system as you quite rightly say is not 100% proportional but it delivers a proportional result.

In 2011 Fine Gael won 76 seats of the 166 seats of the Dail, proportionally they should have won 60 seats, likewise Labour got 37 whilst they should have got 30 seats. The big losers were Fianna Fail who got 20 seats when they should have had 29 seats. Sinn Fein also lost out with 14 instead of 16 seats and the United Left Alliance got 5 seats when proportionally they should have got 4 seats. The other big loser were the Greens who lost all 6 seats when proportionally they should have got 3 seats.

Cibwr said...

Its not party proportional but is more proportional than the top up system, certainly with only 4 members for every 8 constituency members. It does hand the greatest control over to the electorate, which is desirable and the least control to the party machines. 16 5 member constituencies would be great.

Anonymous said...

What Hain is proposing is political apartheid, the perpetual dominance of the Labour supporting minority in Wales.

Jac o' the North said...

Surely, since the referendum on legislative powers, we should now have more AMs. Sixty may have been enough for a talking-shop but we can see one obvious problem with so few AMs in the 'quality' of Carwyn Jones's cabinet.

Scotland has 129 MSPs. Even allowing for the fact that Scotland has a separate legal system and more power than the Assembly, this is still more than twice the number of our AMs. (Though the Scots stuck with the old Westminster boundaries.)

The Richard Commission recommended more AMs years back, before we gained legislative powers. And if, as is being mooted, Wales gains its own legal system, then the case for more AMs becomes irrefutable.

With the increase in numbers must come a new system that better ensures proportionality.

As for Hain, is anybody listening? He has no power and by the time Labour gets back into government in London he'll be long forgotten. Assuming he gets elected!

The real worry is that Carwyn Jones seemed to agree with him. This man is proving a great disappointment all round.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I'm getting a bit worried now! As Oscar Wilde would say,

Whenever people agree with me, I always feel I must be wrong.

Where are the Labour trolls today, have they not come back from their holiday homes in Aberystwyth yet!!

Anonymous said...

you're also the only Plaid Cymru blog to call Peter Hain's 'proposal' what it is gerrymandering, others are pussyfooting around trying to agree with some parts of Hain's ideas and Cheryl Gillan's initial proposals while having a go at them personally.

Jac, its not only the quality of Government Minsters but the quality of the Opposition, any decent opposition would have put the shower in the Assembly and its multiple failures to the sword before now.

menaiblog said...

I've looked back at each Assembly & westminster election since 1918 on my blog & found Labour to be over represented in terms of seat in every election since 1931.

That year was the last time Labour failed to get more than 50% of the seats in Wales, although their vote has often been far lower than 50%.

For example in 1997 Labour got 32.2% of the vote & 60% of the constituency seats.

The results may be viewed here -

The blog post is in Welsh, but it's pretty easy to get the picture.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Good data on BlogMenai.

The only time Labour have had a majority and governed on their own was 2003 - 2007, probably the most sterile, least productive time of the whole Assembly with the exception of Alun Michael's tenure!

Do we really want to go back to that?

If you don't believe me read Martin Shipton's book "Poor Man's Parliament" a pretty damning indictement of the Welsh Labour party.

Frank H Little said...

Apart from all the moral objections already listed, Hain/Jones is also politically short-sighted. A uniform swing under FPTP could reduce Labour to a rump. If the last Euro elections had been conducted under Hain/Jones, there would have been two or three Conservatives in Brussels and not one Labour MEP.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Tweet by Welsh Ramblings:

Mick Antoniw AM rubbishes Peter Hain's immature FPTP policy in today's Mail. The pro-sanity faction in Labour needs to put Hain his place.

DrHSThompson said...

@ Plaid Gwersyllt - Where is your holiday home?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Mm odd pseudonym that, is it really Hunter S Thompson you are copying...worrying!

Incidentally I have no holiday home anywhere.

Fear & loathing in Las Gwersyllt! said...

If I were a resident of Gwersyllt I wouldn't feel like I needed a holiday home! Life is good here.

DrHSThompson - perhaps you are on a chemically enduced trip to Las Vegas but we here in Las Gwersyllt are content.

Do you have proof of a @PlaidGwersyllt holiday home? If he or she actually does have a holiday home (big if), then of course what relevance is it? None!

Strange response!!!!!