"We need to ask where we go next on constitutional reform, how to re-engage people in our democracy, how to renew local government, and how to strengthen civil society. And, because politics is fundamentally about what government
does, we need to ask questions about how government itself needs to adapt to the
challenges of the modern world."
from 'How do we do more to connect politics and people?' Labour's 'Big Conversation' website.
This website aims to offer a constructive response to these questions by democratising the House of Lords in such a manner that:
- there would be no need for further elections
- no single party would have a majority
- the government of the day would not have a majority in both houses
- would confer a legitimacy one step removed from that of the Commons
- the primacy of the Commons would be preserved
- Most importantly of all, people would be encouraged to participate in the general election
It's not just the Labour Party that is seeking answers to the conundrum of
how to do more to connect politics and people. Voter participation tumbled to
its lowest post-war level at the last election. There is a real possibility that
the next parliament may be the first to be elected on less than 50% turnout.
People are losing faith in the ability of politicians to improve their lives.
Cynicism is becoming more attractive than participation.
New initiatives designed to encourage voters are dismissed as gimmicks.
Voting at your local supermarket may seem attractive but convenience can never
truly replace conviction as a reason to participate. People no longer feel
represented. The first step towards re-engagement is to convince the electorate
that their vote really counts.
Currently, most of the votes cast at the general election have no effect. Under the
First Past The Post system, only those votes cast for the winning candidate
actually result in representation. So, if you live in a constituency where you know
that only one party is going to win, the incentive to participate is
undermined. This effect is greatly magnified for supporters of minority parties, who
know in advance that their vote will be little more than a gesture. Surely, many
more would consider it worthwhile to participate in the general election if
democratic weight could be added to the single vote they cast to elect an MP?
That is where the secondary mandate comes in.
It is a form of indirect election which distributes the seats in the second chamber in proportion to the votes cast in the general election.