End Labour Assembly bias - Plaid MP


Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards MP today challenged the UK Government to change the way in which Welsh Assembly members are elected.

During Welsh Questions, Secretary of State Cheryl Gillan was urged by Mr Edwards to consider amending the process which currently sees 40 Assembly Members elected through constituencies, and the remaining 20 members chosen through a regional list, as part of the proposed Welsh Calman process.

Mrs Gillan confirmed she would “look seriously at his recommendation we have 30 first-past-the-post seats and 30 on the list system”.

Plaid Cymru has advocated using the system of STV (Single Transferrable Vote) to elect members to both Westminster and Cardiff Bay.

The party would also seek to change the current rules that prevent members standing for both a constituency and a list seat. The decision not to allow candidates to stand for both was originally slammed by Plaid as party politically motivated move by Labour. The rule does not apply for the elections to the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking after the exchange Mr Edwards said:

"Considering the fact that changes to Westminster constituency boundaries are now inevitable, it is time that we look at the effect this will have on National Assembly seats, which are bound to reflect those held in Westminster under the Government of Wales Act 2006.

“Calman in Scotland looked at other issues apart from the funding of the Scottish Government, and this is an opportunity to revisit the gerrymandering of the electoral system for the National Assembly by the Labour party following the 2006 Government of Wales Act.

“We need an electoral system which produces a more proportional result than the current system which is heavily weighted towards the Labour party.

“My preference would be to move to an STV system, but considering the opposition of the Tories to PR and the Labour party’s opposition to decoupling Westminster and National Assembly boundaries, a consensus could clearly be gained by moving to a system whereby we have coterminosity at constituency level with the remainder elected via list. This could easily be implemented for a 60 or 80 member National Assembly.

“Traditionally too, Labour has benefitted from the rules which prevent candidates standing on both the list and constituency seat – a rule which incidentally helped Nick Bourne to lose his seat at the election.

“This is not the case in Scotland and was only introduced in Wales by Labour for party political reasons. It is a system that only exist in the Ukraine, and we need to get rid of this undemocratic rule and join the rest of the democratic world.

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State has taken this on board and I will continue to campaign for fair representation in Wales and Westminster.”