Doug Cowan's blog

30 Sep 2016

The Return of the Gerrymander

With all the media attention focusing on the upcoming American Presidential Election, it’s easy to forget that it isn’t the only election happening on that day. Voters up and down the country will be voting in local referendums, for Senators, for Representatives and for a host of local elected positions. The Democrats are currently leading in the polls for Congressional elections by six points […]
8 Aug 2016

David Cameron’s Farewell Gift

Now that David Cameron has moved out of Number 10, the staggering bill he has left behind is starting to become apparent. Since 2010, he has appointed 205 new life peers to the House of Lords – unelected legislators who can change the very laws we all live under, yet remain entirely unaccountable to the British public. The final 16 who joined the second chamber on the former Prime Minister’s […]
18 Jul 2016

Electoral Reform in Parliament again

Two of our issues are back in the House of Commons this week as Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, will be presenting her ‘Electoral Reform (Proportional Representation and Reduction of Voting Age)’ motion. Whilst ‘ Ten Minute Rule ’ motions of this kind rarely become law, they provide a chance for MPs to support a motion they care about and a chance for arguments of both […]
6 Apr 2016

Move House for Electoral Reform! Facts behind our April Fools

Whilst the day-to-day effects of First Past the Post for communities around Britain is closer to a tragedy – for one day a year we attempt, along with everyone else, to spread our message using light comedy. Our April Fools Day post in 2015 went with the message of ERS Say Everything Is Fine whilst listing all the ludicrous effects of First Past the Post – an electoral system great for 1 st April […]
19 Oct 2015

Our bloated second chamber

The House of Lords is already the biggest chamber in the democratic world - yet it is growing in size with each new government. As peers sit in the chamber for life, it grows with each new Prime Minister using political patronage to re-adjust the balance in favour of their party. The 2010 Coalition agreement formalised this aim, stating that ‘Lords appointments will be made with the objective of […]
9 Oct 2015

Party over Principle: Independence in the Lords

The House of Lords is often assumed to be more independent than the Commons because it is less strongly whipped and because it contains Crossbench members who do not have a party affiliation. But it’s a mistake to assume that this makes the Lords a non-partisan chamber. Over 70% of members of the Upper Chamber take a political whip. Many political Peers are former MPs, or former elected […]
24 Aug 2015

Costly cronies of the House of Lords

In our new report, House of Lords Fact vs Fiction , we took a look at some of the enduring myths that surround our unelected second chamber. Peers are technically unpaid, but unlike the thousands of people around the country who volunteer in their local communities each week, members of the House of Lords effectively get to pick how much they get in allowances. Just for checking in, Peers can […]
27 Jul 2015

Does Proportional Representation break the constituency link?

The constituency link is a vital part of British political life; MPs represent local areas and are directly accountable to those areas for their continued careers. If MPs misbehave their constituents have the power to boot them out, and the fear that this might happen keep MPs on the straight and narrow. It is sometimes argued that there is something special about this link between an MP and […]
23 Jun 2015

Does Proportional Representation give too much power to small parties?

It’s sometimes claimed that under proportional representation (PR), tiny parties have a lot of power, as they get to decide who to go into coalition with and therefore who forms the government. Under First Past the Post (FPTP), these people say, the party that the biggest share of the vote gets to be in power. Analysis of what actually happens under coalition governments however shows that the […]
5 Jun 2015

Did Proportional Representation put the Nazis in power?

Probably the first time many of us heard of Proportional Representation (PR) was in a school classroom studying the Second World War. For some people this may have been the last time they heard about other voting systems, and the bizarre myth that it was a proportional voting system which caused WWII – not things like, say, crumbling empires, xenophobia and economic collapse. The myth about […]