Q 1. With parliament controlled by the ballot, all votes would be secret and we wouldn't know how our member voted on any issue, would we?
A. That's right. You wouldn't know which way your MP voted. But under the present system it isn't worth knowing anyway. Arguing with a party MP about the merits or otherwise of a measure is a pointless exercise. The backbencher has no influence on policy in the party room.
Many members would not be elected without party support and, in fact, do not represent All constituents either. Some will inevitably fail with the envisaged change in parliamentary voting, as the electorate participation and scrutiny hots up.
Q 2.. You refer to ex-party MPs but I don't think you have explained why an MP is, suddenly, no longer aligned to a party.
A. They could be still, in theory. But, in practice, the party will no longer be able to rely on, or control, any member's vote according to the policy decided upon by the party.
As each party's financial support dries up, and its members become independent, the control and power of the party hierarchy will vanish.
Since the basis of the power and financial support for the party, to win the next election and pass its desired legislation, rests on the party having a compliant voting team in parliament, the public will tranfer its interest and hopes to the new power and opportunities in parliament of their now independent members to work for them.
Existing party members in safe seats, will find a subtle change in their security as many voters sniff a fresh wind of opportunity for participation and a new measure of influence over their representative; away from the policy stereotypes in which they have been reared.
All politicians will then have to transfer their political hopes and loyalties from their party, to their constituents, acting as, and literally becoming, independents.
Q 3.. You are proposing that votes be secret, but when they debate, they will indicate which way they are going to vote, so then their vote is publicly known. So, their vote is only secret if they don't participate in the debate?
A. Certainly they will disclose their attitude on the issue by debating, and their vote could be reasonably assumed. However their views may change during debate, this being the reality of a freely debating parliament, where views COULD change during debate. Any member will then have the opportunity to persuade the rest, who don't particpate in the debate, all voting freely. Activity in the lobbies will also be a quite legitmate means of pursuing member support for the ultimate ballot.
With all members free to respond, a majority of the whole parliament will be free to be won on any issue - by persuasive debate. Progressive ballots will show a maturing view in parliament, substantially simplifying the task of forming and concluding decisions, based on responsible debate and genuine electorate representation. An economy of parliamentary time and removal of useless frustration will result. Members will act independently, and strongly, in achieving results for their electorate (and the country) - an attractive scenario for all worthwhile members.
Members able to lead objective, sound arguments for good causes and policies will be showered with public praise.
The power to persuade the parliament and rapidly secure a legislative result will thus be far more important than a member's single vote. The electorate will judge the performance of the member on their behalf, by the debate and the ballot result. If the issue is concluded favourably the member will be congratulated.
On the other hand, a matter may be controversial and sensibly deferred, becoming a hot topic in the electorate and subsequent meetings with the MP.
Participants in debate may be few where issues are clear. If not, many will feel the need to debate, and more time and progressive votes will be needed to clarify the position and obtain an acceptable majority, for a sustainable outcome.
NB, the days of fifty per cent plus one constituting a sufficient majority will be history, with larger parliamentary majorities being constitutionally required for serious, far- reaching issues, like sending troops abroad etc etc.
(Notice also the real accountability resulting from the member's necessity to hold regular public meetings in which a hot seat can become much hotter if the member does not meet with constituents' approval and support. The member will become close friends with constituents - or else! Now that's accountability!)
Q 4. Why would a political party not still be relevant?
A. A party is a group specifically designed to seek political power - to win elections, establish an executive and rule without reference to other competing groups. The ballot in parliament will prevent that objective. Party executives with no longer have power over parliament and will therefore dissolve.
Parliament will appoint all ministers, on merit,. to be responsible for all public service departments, completely answerable to parliament..
Q 5. People of similar mind (ideology?) will still meet to discuss how to win their objectives.
A. It will become evident that local meetings will present free, and preferable opportunities for protagonists to pursue any particular issue of merit more effectively in as many electorates as they wish - and without the hoo haa of political conflict we have been used to in parliament. In each electorate lobbyists will face real people who will soon see through unreasonable claims.
All issues will then be better attended to, with the effective involvement in local meetings. Ideology will give way to objective community assessment of the various issues, which will each need to gain the needed support on merit, and be launched in parliament, by each member. People acceptably active in local meetings will be seen as possible rivals to a sitting member who proves inadequate.
As Abraham Lincoln, one time American President, said 'In this country public opinion is everything.' That is the democracy to which we aspire. We expect to set America a better example.
Q 6. Local members, or aspirants, may be amongst the smartest, most confident, most articulate, most charismatic etc . Would these not attract substantial following in respect of certain issues and overwhelm all opposition.
A. The danger is far less than you suggest. The freely acting local member, local media and other constituents will not lie down under such an abuse of local meeting privilege. Local scrutiny will sniff corruption at its very source and destroy it.
With the ballot ruling in parliament we will see a new democracy, growing in strength, with the people well able to combat all undue influence.
Q 7. Perhaps a ghost-writer could write a novel that might throw light on the way it would work out in practice, outlining in detail the transition to ballots in parliament in a way people could relate to.
A. A great idea! A writer might just see the light and hopefully undertake that vision!
He, or she,would be most welcome to come on board and take over!