I recently read "The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain" by the Conservatives Douglas Carswell MP and Daniel Hannan MEP. I found it an interesting read and whilst I did not agree with all the ideas proposed within it I certainly think it is a welcome addition to the debate on reform in the UK.
As Dan and I were writing The Plan, I was reading Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. It gave us a eureka moment. Having written various books with various publishers previously, we realised that if we switched to print on demand, we could leverage off internet distribution ourselves directly.
We were convinced that the themes in our book would sooner or later become central to the political debate in Britain - we just didn't know when.
Part of your “Cleaning up Westminster” section suggests that select committee chairmen should be elected by the Commons in a secret ballot rather than appointed by the whips office. Wouldn’t the fact that the governing party generally has an inbuilt majority within the house restrict the effectiveness of this approach?
Using secret ballots to decide who gets to chair select committees would take power away from party whips. The executive would no longer be able to decide the shape of the legislature.
Even more profoundly, it'd change the chemistry of the Commons. Today advancement in Westminster comes through party whips. This encourages MPs to behave primarily as cheer leaders for the executive or shadow executive. It helps explain why the Commons generates much heat and noise, while at the same time being quite so supine and spineless.
Once you use free and fair ballots to decide who gets promoted, advancement would come from the degree to which an individual MP could command support and respect from across the chamber. It would encourage the fair and independent minded.
The key thing, however, is to recognise that with 7 out of 10 MPs coming from safe seats, we don't have enough choice and competition in our politics. I fear that some PR proposals would mean we ended up with a system where 9 out of 10 MPs stood zero chance of losing their seats.
Hattip to Wikipedia for the image of Douglas used above.