Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Electoral fiction

Last week, the former Secretary of State for Wales once again gave us the benefit of his opinion, in some detail, on the proposal in the latest Wales Bill to remove the Labour-imposed ban on dual candidacy for the National Assembly.
Fundamentally, his logic is sound, and I find it hard to disagree with his contention that individuals who have been decisively rejected by the electorate should not, nevertheless, end up being elected.  But agreeing with the logic isn’t the same as agreeing with the premise on which it is based – i.e. that anyone failing to win an election in a constituency has therefore been rejected as a person.
For a conventionally conservative politician like Hain, the assumption is so obvious as to not even need examination.  It is a convenient fiction of the UK constitution that all MPs (and AMs etc.) are elected as individuals rather than simple nominees of their party, and it would be unreasonable to expect any conservative to challenge that fiction.
But looked at from another point of view, the idea that people in Neath would still have chosen Hain as their MP if he had stood as a conservative candidate – or even as a candidate for the successor to his former party, the Lib Dems – is patently risible.  Whilst there may have been a small number of astute electors who realised that the difference between the parties was so small that they might as well vote for the person that they most liked, the overwhelming majority voted for the party – the man simply came with the package.  (In all fairness, I suppose that it really is possible that he believes that he would still have won as a conservative, given his unique ability and talents.  He wouldn’t be the first politician to be overcome by such an unrealistic level of self-belief.)
If that’s true in Neath, it’s equally true in Clwyd West, his favoured example of the ‘problem’ that he perceives.  But it simply isn’t true that the three losing candidates were ‘rejected’ by the electorate; it was merely that they were wearing the wrong colour rosettes.  The fact that they lost tells us nothing at all about what the electorate thought about them as candidates.  Equally, however, the fact that they ‘won’ places through the regional list tells us nothing about what the electorate thought about them as candidates either; all it tells us anything about is the relative level of support for the various parties.
All judgement of the merits of individuals is, in practice, done by their parties before presenting them to the electorate as candidates.  One would hope (although there is obviously room for doubt) that the parties would be seeking to put forward their best people to serve the electorate.  The Labour/Hain ban on dual candidacy is more likely to put an unnecessary obstacle in the way of that than to facilitate it. As such, it fails to serve the best interests of the electorate.


Anonymous said...

... meanwhile Labour votes (or doesn't vote) to change Barnnett to suit Wales.

Labour votes with Tories to keep Welsh water under Westminster rule rather than under Welsh (Labour) control.

Labour asks for no cosequentias from HS2 for Wales - remember that when labour voters in the Valleys complain about Arriva Trains.

- tells us all you need to know about Labour priorities that this isssue is the one which has most excerised Hain and his Party.

You mean there's more??? said...

I wonder if there is a sub text to this comment linked to plaid in general and Leanne in particular.