Commenting on PM Gordon Brown's proposals for electoral and political reforms, Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the thinktank Ekklesia, which last week produced a new paper on political reform
( http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/9579), said:
“This is a moment of opportunity for wide-ranging and positive change, but there is a huge risk that crucial issues will be overlooked and the Government will follow a path that serves its own interests not those of the country as a whole.
“A truly proportional voting system such as the Single Transferable Vote (STV) which like the Alternative Vote (AV) system maintains a link between constituencies, would be far more preferable. Similarly, the voting system chosen for the House of Lords is crucial. A big question remains about what will happen to the role of independent cross-benchers, 200 of whom currently play a very positive role in the Second Chamber. It would be a tragedy for this non-partisan element of Parliament to be lost."
Ekklesia recently commissioned a survey through pollsters ComRes which suggested that there was widespread support for non-party candidates. 63% of the public said they thought Parliament would be enriched by more independent members.
The thinktank also points out that proposals to devolve power around policing and justice may afford new opportunities for community based initiatives around restorative justice.