The Additional Member System

How we elect our MPs and our Governments has a huge impact on our political culture and public life. There are many things a good electoral system should do, but the most fundamental is ensuring that how people have voted is broadly reflected in the make-up of Parliament.

That isn't what we have at the moment in the House of Commons. We use an electoral system designed for there being just two political parties, when in reality we have a multi-party system.

A better way to elect Parliament would be to introduce what already exists for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly - the Additional Member System (AMS). Under this system, there would still be constituencies similar to what we have now, though they would be slightly bigger. Each one of those constituencies would still elect one Member of Parliament, who would be the person who obtained the most votes (just as now).

However, voters would also cast a second vote. This vote would elect a small number of MPs covering the voter's county, or part of it if they live in a big metropolitan area. These seats would be allocated proportionally, meaning every vote counted and the MPs then sent to Westminster much better reflected the democratic will of the public.

These top-up lists would likely see Labour MPs in the South East and South West, and Conservative MPs elected in Big Northern cities. For the first time, there would not be an arbitrary division between 'safe' and 'marginal' seats. No areas could be ignored, and voters everywhere could make a difference. It would be the best of what we have now, but more representative and much more relevant to the politics we have today.

Jonathan Reynolds MP

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  • Jude Munday
    tagged this with like 2016-07-12 13:11:13 +0100
  • Dan Chester
    tagged this with love 2016-05-03 22:51:23 +0100
  • Peta Cuttell
    commented 2016-04-03 18:09:17 +0100
    Whilst this is better than our current system, the list system is something like a ‘safe seat’, and individual politicians won’t be able to be held as accountable. What we need are multi-member constituencies electing MPs with the single-transferable vote system. It means that we get a more proportional parliament and each member is accountable to a clearly defined electorate, rather than to their party who will decide on who tops their list.
  • Peta Cuttell
    tagged this with neutral 2016-04-03 18:09:17 +0100
  • John Woods
    commented 2016-04-02 16:32:52 +0100
    Billy Bragg has a good suggestion for membership of the Lords. This relates the membership with the voting for the Commons in assigning membership on the proportional basis and making allowance for cross benchers and independents.
  • John Hackett
    commented 2016-04-02 12:52:12 +0100
    This would be an excellent reform: having members with no constituency would confer independence and a national perspective that sometimes seems lacking.

    The ratio of constituency to non-constituency seats is important here. In Scotland there are more constituency seats and fewer ‘additional’ seats. That hurts the proportionality of the system. I’d suggest that constituency seats should be 50% or fewer of the total number of seats in parliament.
  • John Hackett
    tagged this with like 2016-04-02 12:52:12 +0100
  • John Hackett
    tagged this with love 2016-04-02 12:52:12 +0100
  • John Woods
    commented 2016-04-01 14:56:27 +0100
    These additional members have no constituency. Better by far to have multi-member constituencies and every member becomes MP for the constituencies where they get most votes.
  • John Woods
    tagged this with hate 2016-04-01 14:56:26 +0100
  • Jonathan Marsland
    commented 2016-04-01 13:36:15 +0100
    As long as its county/Metro area wide this is good and is a much better idea than the top up idea.
  • Jonathan Marsland
    tagged this with like 2016-04-01 13:36:15 +0100
  • Jacob Lloyd
    commented 2016-04-01 12:16:24 +0100
    It already works in Scotland, Wales, London, Germany and New Zealand. It could easily be adopted into our po0litical culture and represents an elegant answer to the differing needs of an electoral system, balancing prportionality with local representation and the ability to form workable majority or coalition governments.
  • Jacob Lloyd
    tagged this with love 2016-04-01 12:16:24 +0100
  • Jacob Deans
    tagged this with love 2016-04-01 11:43:19 +0100
  • Verity Lewes
    commented 2016-04-01 10:40:41 +0100
    Looks like a very good guide to creating a balance that the FPTP system struggles with. I would be inclined to trying to accommodate the House of Lords in with any notion of representative balance.
  • Verity Lewes
    tagged this with like 2016-04-01 10:40:41 +0100
  • Daniel Nichols
    commented 2016-04-01 09:29:32 +0100
    Essential for a healthy democracy.
  • Daniel Nichols
    tagged this with love 2016-04-01 09:29:32 +0100