In very very surprising news, the so-called “Senedd Electoral Reform Committee” has said it wants about another twenty to thirty members of the Senedd. Why is it every time we hear talk of “electoral reform” it usually means adding more politicians to the big Cardiff Bay blob?
Let’s give this committee the benefit of the doubt. What is the official reason for more politicians? Dawn Bowden, the Labour MS committee chair has said it is because the Senedd has more powers now than it used to. Undoubtedly true, but should a condition of more politicians have been attached to the 2011 Assembly Powers referendum I suggest voters may have said something different. I believe this is an attempt to bring greater legitimacy to the Welsh Parliament thus far not earned by those in power. This is too much of an easy way out. Instead of engaging the Welsh public on the merits of the Senedd it just seeks to artificially enlarge it without the consent of the people of Wales.
Another action it has proposed is shifting the electoral system from First Past the Post and Regional Lists to Single Transferable Vote in time for the 2026 election. Make no mistake- this is not proposed by the Labour-Plaid committee out of some principled case for greater proportionality, but rather a case for more of the same bland politicians from Labour and Plaid. Conservatives have a near monopoly on the centre-right vote so it is just an attempt to marginalise the Conservative vote. Notwithstanding this, the Westminster boundary reviews always show that Wales has more MPs per head than England. The use of STV will only limit the scope of responsibility further rather improve things.
It is a complete stitch-up, as predicted, and the Tories and Brexit Party were right to boycott this committee.
It just serves to demonstrate how out-of-touch politics can really feel. A global pandemic with unemployment already spiking in Wales and Labour and Plaid Cymru MSs propose more jobs in the Bay. To use a phrase from Paul Davies, Leader of the Tories, we really do need a devolution revolution, which involves less political obstruction from getting things done in Wales, not more.