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Via @glynbeddau

The old adage that  “Turkey don’t vote for Christmas” appears to be the case once again as “Welsh” Labour appear to block attempts to raise the number of Welsh Assembly Members and/or reform the voting system.

The BBC reports that

A decision on whether to have more assembly members has been put off until after 2021.
There were proposals to add another 20 or 30 AMs to the current 60 before the next elections in two years’ time.
But Labour has said it will not back the plan or changes to the way AMs are elected without first putting it to voters in a manifesto.
Presiding Officer Elin Jones today confirmed it would not be possible to change the law before the election.
However she said “we are confident that the case in favour of increasing the number of AMs has been made”.
She set out the next steps in plans to reform the assembly in a letter to AMs.

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Although she did not name Labour, the party said at its Welsh conference in April that legislation to change the size of the assembly and the electoral system should not happen “without a public mandate via a manifesto commitment”.
That effectively killed off any prospect of making the changes before 2021 and made it unlikely that the number of AMs will rise above 60 until the following election in 2026.
The assembly is in the process of changing its name to the Senedd and lowering the voting age to 16.
As part of a second phase of reform, it will look at other proposals published by a panel of experts in 2017.

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Led by Cardiff University’s Professor Laura McAllister, the panel concluded that more AMs were needed to keep pace with the assembly’s growing powers and responsibilities.

It said: “Calling for more politicians is unpopular, but our analysis of the evidence demonstrates that all the alternatives to an increase in size have been tried and tested without adequately addressing the capacity gap we have identified.”

In her letter to AMs, Ms Jones says:

“As the challenges facing the assembly’s capacity intensify, we are confident that the case in favour of increasing the number of AMs has been made.

“Nevertheless, the issue of reforming the electoral system continues to spark a wide range of views, with one party having already confirmed that it would require a manifesto commitment before any such change was implemented.“On this basis, the commission has decided it is not possible to legislate on Phase 2 of electoral reform in this Assembly.“However, our work to explore issues relating to the size of the assembly and how members should be elected will continue assisting the public debate and political parties as they consider their views on these matters.”

Clearly Labour could well be  the losers in any expansion of the assembly   membership

Welsh Assembly elections[edit]

Year Percentage of vote (constituency) Percentage of vote (regional) Seats won (constituency) Seats won (regional) Seats won (total) Government
1999 37.6% 35.5%
27 / 40

1 / 20

28 / 60

Coalition
2003 40% 36.6%
30 / 40

0 / 20

30 / 60

Government
2007 32.2% 29.7%
24 / 40

2 / 20

26 / 60

Coalition
2011 42.3% 36.9%
28 / 40

2 / 20

30 / 60

Government
2016 34.7% 31.5%
27 / 40

2 / 20

29 / 60

Coalition

Elected Leaders


Despite  getting between 30% and 40% of the vote in a supposed  “Proportional  Electoral System ”  “Welsh” Labour  get between 40% to 45% of the seats  due to their hegemony when it comes to  Constituency seats.
Any increase in number of AM  would of  20 or 30 new members would see either
  • Increasing the number of regional members and keeping the constituencies as they are .
  • Increasing the number of Constituencies  and redrawing boundaries.
  • Doing Both 
  • Changing the electoral system to something like the STV and having something like 20 constituencies  with 4 or 5 members.

 It may be that some AMs feel that the public won’t wear an in crease in numbers and  the chances that puting it to them in a manifesto wil be slim.
But their Workload is increasing and apart from the number of committees they have to take on, many of our AM undertake a great deal of consituency work even when the Assembly is not sitting.
Constitutional reform is always difficult look at the failure to replace the House of Lords, with an elected body, despite decades of campaigning to do so.
Even the Tories plans to reduce the number of UK Constituencies  has fallen by the wayside.
Oddly such a plan which could see the number of MPs in Wales reduced  from 40 to 30, would aid the call for electing AM’s, as it would see different boundaries in Westminster Constituencies  to Assembly ones.
Mind you  “Welsh” Labour could then argue to use the Westminster Constituency  boundaries in Assembly elections and elect two AMs in each  giving us 60 Constituencies and 20 (or 30 ) regional ones  increasing Labours representation.