How to run an Election!

I think all Newspaper and TV coverage of Domestic Politics should be banned during a period of somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks leading up to a General Election.

Each party should be allowed exactly the same, reasonable, budget to put together a multi-segment video detailing their Manifestos for broadcast in equivalent time slots on The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 during the period of the Coverage Ban, these should be accompanied by the same information on a central State Website and in printed form on request. All these sources should be checked for inconsistencies, they should all match.

Quality Control: Prior to being accepted they should be fact-checked by a panel, who would have the power to demand the evidence on which any claims are based to be produced and made available. Any claims found passable, but based on assumptions, should have a “Confidence Rating” provided to give an indication how likely they are to be possible.

Party Members out canvassing for votes would be required to stick to the published “official” Party version. Any unsanctioned claims to be treated as an offence under the Elections Act that would have to be implemented to bring these changes into force.

Polls should be banned too. Exit polls though may a good idea, so long as their implementation is monitored and meets a set standard for sampling and compilation.

Once elected, a Government should face an annual review of their performance. These reviews would look at whether the Government was sticking to the Manifesto put forward in their Election Campaign, as well as how effective the measures were proving.

In the event that they were performing poorly, modifications to their policies would have to be put forward and agreed by a parliamentary majority. suggestions for the changes should put forward by MPs from any Party. There would be an onus on the Elected Government to work with the other parties to find an acceptable solution.

In the event of a suitable agreement not be arrived at, a coalition comprised of a proportional number of each party based on the percentage of seats held, but with a minimum of one Representative per party, could be formed until the next General election is due. A maximum period to agree should be set to force the parties to get on with it!

As a very last result a new General election can be called, although this is to be discouraged, perhaps by publishing details of the negotiations on a central State Website as well as fact-checked and neutrally reported news accounts of the proposals and the responses of all those involved. This would highlight anyone who was just holding out on unreasonable grounds. This would act as a deterrent to negative argument and encourage positive negotiation.

Note the same rules regarding TV and Press coverage and presentation of arguments for and against should also be applied to any further Referenda. This will prevent problems like the recent Brexit debacle.

This is difficult to achieve in the current climate of unchallenged lies and misrepresentation of the facts. Worsened by the setting and magnification of agendas by a press that has sunk below the level that can be accepted in any reasonable and decent nation.

In order to make a rational decision on important issues we need an educated and properly informed electorate. Without that, “Democracy” is just another misused term.

Robin McBurnie

16-01-2017

(Edited 22-01-2017)

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