Monday, 1 November 2010

Kennedy - equalised constituences "a negation of democracy"

Against deadline I just had half an ear on the Commons debate on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, and an excellent speech by Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Charles Kennedy.

Kennedy, who has more experience than anyone of the supersized constituencies that the government is proposing to equalize seats at 70,000 voters each, argued the proposals were a "negation of democracy" and against the geography and history of Britain's rural areas.

You have to listen very closely to Kennedy these days, almost every utterance is a coded attack on the coalition albeit well disguised as a highly polite, political interventions.

Towards the end of his speech he warned that voters who kept the Liberal flame alive in these far flung constituencies found it "absolutely incomprehensible in terms of their attitude as to why on earth in government Lib Dems have put their names to something like this that does not take into account the very special peripheral circumstances that their communities represent, and have indeed helped maintain from generation to generation."

He added: "It is never to late for governments to think again and we are going to divide this house to encourage them to do just that."

The Lib Dems want the AV part of the voting reform but the Tories won't deliver it without seat equalisation which will mean more constituencies weighed in their favour under the first past the post system.

Kennedy is having a good Westminster day. Earlier he delivered a beautifully loaded putdown to the Eurosceptic Prime Minister, who returned from Brussels declaring victory for a 2.9% budget increase that had been agreed to months ago.

Kennedy praised Cameron as “one long-standing pro-European... to another”.

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