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Thursday, 27 August 2009

How many MPs should we have?

One thing I do not agree with the Leadership of my Party (on a personal basis), or the Tories for what it's worth is on reducing the number of MPs that end up in the House of Commons.

Currently an MP represents an area with approximately 70,000 people living there, what started me on this tonight is Councillor Chris White (for those on Twitter @ChrisWhite17) who is tweeting direct from Nick Clegg's latest Town Hall meeting in St. Albans.

Now, if you want to see Nick Clegg's plan to Take Back Power and restore democracy go here.

I agree with the majority of what is proposed and fully sign up to it but I do not agree with the objective of reducing the number of MPs. For any seasoned campaigner, of whatever party, they will all have heard this on the campaign trail "Why don't you knock on my door, no-one, from any party comes round".

It is often because you just cannot get all the leaflets delivered and phone calls made as well as knocking on 50,000+ doors - although that is what we all would prefer to do.

So, I think we have to leave the number of MPs roundabout the figure we have now. People have the right to know their MP, to expect them to do surgeries all round the local area, take for example Willie Rennie MP, who is in the middle of a tour around his constituency ensuring every community has that opportunity to meet him and express their opinions.

I recall delivering leaflets in Dunfermline with Willie one afternoon during the European elections every time we saw a constituent I carried on delivering and Willie chatted and brought up expenses so they didn't have to broach the subject first. Willie spoke to every single person we saw that day, whether they were walking down the street, gardening or washing the car - that's the kind of MP everyone needs, someone who is there and will work hard for every person in every community irrespective of how they voted.

That is why we don't need less MPs because that kind of relationship would never happen!


John said...

Very easy to say when you have a dollop of devolution. You try being a Cllr though when an opposition MP sticks his/her nose into extremely local affairs with staff on hand when you are also working full-time etc.

The real point is to define the role of an MP and of Westminster. If we want to make Local Politics MEANINGFUL with a meaningful role for cllrs we need to look at the numbers of MPs.

The public won't wear MORE politicians but they would a properly thought-through democratic balance.

Gareth Aubrey said...

John's point about the relationship between the levels of government is quite critical to this; I've always based my thoughts on a figure around 400, but that's with STV in the Commons, PR in the Lords, devolved assemblies in England and a complete reorganisation of councils.

Equally, the relationship with constituents point is very important, though I suspect it will decline with future generations; people my age probably won't have the same expectation of definitely being canvassed previous generations have.

Anonymous said...

Is not Lib Dem policy to have multi member constituencies using STV? That will change the number of voters in each electoral area and may result in changes to the number of MPS.

Its the relationship between: MEPs, MPs, MSPs (or AMs), Councillors - and in Scotland - Community Councillors that needs to be reviewed and reassesed with much clearer definitions of who does what.

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