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2010-05-09 - 21:43:00 - by AlisonW - Topic: UK-Politics: Elections |

I'm listening to Radio 4's The Westminster Hour at the moment and, unsurprisingly, the discussion is about the recent General Election and where do things go from here. One of those discussions is about PR (Proportional Representation) and the perceived need for the relationship between the citizen and the MP in the form of the Constituency relationship. Some MPs and commentators suggest it is sacrosanct and must never be broken, which some forms of PR (such as AV+ and list) partially or completely do.

But I'm wondering whether that relationship is all it is suggested it is.

At this election the boundary between seats in my area was shifted, and where I had been an voter in the Hampstead & Highgate constituency for the last 24 years I was now voting for an MP in the Holborn & St. Pancras seat. I didn't get any choice in that 'move' – my home hasn't changed. And, as I commented in a recent post on the results, the lines dividing the nation into constituencies are pretty much random; though sometimes they may associate similar areas together they are just as likely to separate one area into individual, illogical parts.

So is the 'Constituency' all it is said it is? If you know which Member of Parliament is representing you (or, indeed, which Members plural) then does there need to be a direct relationship between them and where you live? Does where you work actually matter more, for example?

In London there are 'constituency' members of the London Assembly, and 'top-up' or 'London-wide' members, and residents of London can go to either 'type' of Assembly Member as they choose. Similar arrangements apply to other elected bodies in some areas.

So would Parliament fall apart if the method of allocating new MPs based upon the number – and proportion – of votes received changed from the present (and clearly outmoded) method?

Somehow I don't think most of us would even notice the change.



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