Polarised Representation

The proposal below is not currently part of our manifesto and will need explicit approval from the membership to become party policy.

Much of the dissatisfaction people feel with the first-past-the-post system stems from the fact that it results in government being dominated by two parties from different ends of the political spectrum, and fails to provide proper representation for those who support smaller parties.

Local Sovereignty’s view is that politics is only dominated by party considerations because there are fundamental polarities in some of the functions of government, and in  the way people view their relationship with the state – polarities which are not properly represented in the structure of our institutions. faq

A core polarity lies in the ever-present tension within political life between the need for consolidation and security and the impulse for expansion and betterment. This is compounded by the fact that people view government from diametrically opposed positions: some people emphasise individual responsibility and collective rights, while others emphasise collective responsibility and individual rights. Those different perspectives lead to very different views on how government should operate, but both are important and a mature society should look for ways in which both could be integrated into the political infrastructure.

The need for this can be seen in the fact that left and right parties clearly favour different areas of policy and, generally, the public seems to consistently prefer the right’s approach on ‘conservative’ issues, such as law and order, defence, industry etc, and consistently prefer the left’s approach on ‘progressive’ issues like the health service, education, welfare etc.

When the country lurches from a Labour government to a Tory one, or vice versa, it’s not usually because there’s been a major shift in public opinion on policy; what changes is which areas of policy the public regards as most important. Local Sovereignty considers that management of those polarised areas needs different qualities and as long as our processes for choosing leaders and representatives lump all those functions of government together we have no hope of a system which is both stable and properly representative.

Our position is that the public can only be adequately represented if legislative responsibility for those different areas of government is split between two different bodies. We believe a Parliament comprising separate left and right houses would be far more appropriate than the upper/lower model we have currently, both in terms of its effectiveness as a legislature, and in terms of how well it represents the views of the electorate. Each house would have different areas of primary responsibility (with each perhaps acting as a modifying chamber on each other’s legislation) and each constituency would therefore have two elected representatives – each representing different spheres of political need.

For those aspects of government which don’t fall naturally into either camp, a neutral configuration of upper and lower chambers could also be readily derived from the one set of electoral choices – the member with the greater majority would sit in the primary chamber, the other would sit in the secondary chamber. faq

We don’t yet have detailed proposals as to what responsibilities lie primarily under which house, because the details will only become relevant once the principle is accepted (and might depend on what other changes are introduced).



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