Reforming the ‘List”

There’s a feeling that the way the ‘Additional Member’ system as it is currently used to elect MSPs to Holyrood is no longer operating in the interests of the citizens who vote.  It’s being abused by the Political Parties as a route for their loyal members to be rewarded with a position as an MSP.  This is surely not how it was intended to be used.   So here’s some ideas for discussion.  I’ve posted this as blog because it seems to be cropping up on several Facebook groups. Blogging it makes it far easier for me to find what I’ve previously written on FB.

I think a change is very badly needed. The list system is being played by the politicians to their personal advantage, not to the benefit of the people who vote. While Murdo Fraser is the most obvious example, there are others who do the exact same. Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar being examples of how the Labour party is abusing the List system. Labour’s leaders were elected on the List, technically no-one voted for them.   (And there are others too)

Points have ben raised on Facebook and social media about any of the changes proposed below meaning that the political parties would require a far wider pool of candidates than they currently seem to have.  In short, where would all the new MSPs come from if the ‘regulars’ were now to be barred from appearing time after time.   I don’t see this as a problem, I see this as a way of refreshing and getting much needed new blood and talent into Holyrood.   There’s also a problem to be thought through about how could the ‘List’ be used to support smaller or even independent  (with a small “i”) candidates.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could have people with real experience and subject-matter-expertise in our Parliament?  Maybe have someone like Harry Burns as a medical expert serve a term.  Maybe have some candidates who have real experience in the electricity/energy sectors to serve and guide Holyrood on such areas?   idealist I know, but if we are serious about reforming the ‘List’ system then why not think big blue sky thoughts? 

While it seems simple to suggest that there should be a two term limit on the number of times a candidate can appear on the list, there are other conditions we ought to consider too:

1) No candidate may serve as a ‘list’ MSP for more than two successive Parliamentary terms.

2) There shall be a gap of one Parliamentary term between any candidate being able to serve as a ‘List’ MSP.   (to break the cycle of repeat/career List MSPs)

3) In the event of a ‘List’ MSP standing down during a Parliamentary term, or any reason,  there shall be a by-election to replace them. Parties shall not simply appoint their next member. (To break the cycle of ‘List’ MSPs then standing in other elections, e.g. Westminster, and the party simply making it their next members seat automatically)

4) No candidate shall be able to stand as a ‘List’ MSP if they are also contesting a constituency seat. (To prevent the ‘List’ being used as a safety net for candidates who fail to win election in a constituency)

5) An MSP elected on the ‘List’ should not be able to hold the position of First Minister.

6) An elected ‘List’ MSP will not be allowed to be considered to stand as a candidate in any other elections while they are service in Holyrood. (To prevent a ‘List’ MSP from seking election and having the safety net of their ‘List’ seat if they fail to win whatever other election they are seeking to stand in)

There are probably more conditions we ought to be thinking of, but these are a start. There have been petitions on Holyrood to reform the List System in the past. They never reached the numbers needed too have this actioned in Holyrood though. Maybe it’s time to raise another petition and all get very solidly behind it?

We can make this change. We can force Holyrood to at least discuss it – but we all have to get organised to share this and to get a petition we’re all happy with

Please feel free to share this, to cut’n’paste it, to discuss it and post it wherever you like.  It’s time we got some democratic ooomph back into our ‘List’ MSPs.

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2 thoughts on “Reforming the ‘List”

  1. Eleanor Hunter

    Thank you for raising these concerns. It is galling to note that some list MSPs came a poor third in their constituency votes and others didn’t even put themselves forward for election, presumably to avoid that embarrassment.

    I would favour a top-up system based on the percentage of the vote achieved in the constituency. In other words voters would vote once only, as in the FPTP system. Constituency MSPs would be elected as at present and there would be top-up seats based on the percentage of the constituency vote achieved. Generally speaking it would be those candidates who came a close second in the constituency who would be most likely to get a top-up seat.

    Advantages?
    All candidates would have to stand for election in their constituency.
    The voters would have some influence over which top up MSPs are elected, as positions would go to those in the party with the highest share of the constituency vote.

    Disadvantages?
    Allocation of list seats would not be based on geographical area so some parts of the country might would have more representation than others. (I’m not sure to what extent current list MSPs have a constituency role.)

    Like

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