29 June 2007

Cabinet Reform

Harriet Harman (queen of hearts) [Credit: www.alexhughescartoons.co.uk]Finally fulfilling the ambitions that Blair had for so long thwarted, Gordon Brown indicated that he wanted to Ruth Kelly (seven of hearts) [Credit: www.alexhughescartoons.co.uk]"create a government of all the talents" and to "reach out beyond narrow party interests." However, despite his reshuffle, fourteen members of Tony Blair's final Cabinet remain and two of the nine newly promoted have previously served in the Cabinet. As Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has noted, "He may have moved people around the Cabinet table but there are remarkably few new faces."

I wonder what you think of an idea I first suggested a couple of years ago:

It is required of newly democratic countries such as Iraq that their governments are representative of the population at large. Our present first-past-the-post system is generally accepted as having more merits and fewer demerits than any alternative, and yet traditional British Cabinet government is distorted by the landslide victories of recent years.

Without changing the voting system, one way of protecting ourselves from the presidential temptations that large majorities grant to winning parties would be to require the Cabinet to be a cross-party body, with each party allocated posts in proportion to its national share of the vote.

As in Iraq, this may result in some days or weeks of post-electoral negotiation while all parties come to agreement on the constitution of the new Cabinet, but such a body would ensure genuine debate between the parties at all levels of governance.
With thanks to Alex Hughes for the Harriet Harman (queen of hearts) and Ruth Kelly (seven of hearts) playing cards (which look even better full size — he has a whole host of characters worth checking out at his site!)