The Tarantino Cull and Welsh Democracy

Tarantino’s film Kill Bill climaxes with an epic battle in the House of Blue Leaves between a samurai sword-wielding Uma Thurman and countless men in suits whom, the viewer knows from the start, will end up dead.

A similar frenzy of destruction seems imminent in Welsh politics with the number of MPs due to be culled from 40 to 30.

Politicians are used to fighting for their political lives but this time they may well be locked in combat with members of their own parties.

Of the two Conservatives representing Pembrokeshire seats today, Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb, who would win the nomination for a new super-seat? A similar contest could face North Wales Tories David Jones and Guto Bebb, and Valleys Labour heavyweights Owen Smith and Chris Bryant may have to duel in what would be a fascinating set of hustings.

There is the potential for great debates within the parties about the future role of MPs but also, to return to the Kill Bill imagery, the chance of rather a lot of blood on the carpet.

A cull of MPs is not going to excite the same wave of protest that greeted the plans for badger-dispatching but there is hard thinking to be done about whether Wales has enough political representatives.

Compare our country for a moment with the state of New Hampshire, which has a population of 1.3 million.

Its House of Representatives has 400 members – one member per 3,290 residents – and its Senate has 24 members. On top of this, it sends four members to the US Congress and has its own judiciary.

Wales has a population of three million and 60 Assembly Members – one per 50,000 residents – and will shortly have 30 MPs.

Northern Ireland has a population of 1.8 million but 108 members of its Assembly. If a similar ratio was applied here Wales would have about 180 AMs.

Despite a rapidly developing body of legislation Wales has no dedicated legal jurisdiction, no prospect of an increase in AMs to even 80 – as recommended by the Richard Commission – and zilch likelihood of the creation of a second chamber.

In this time of cuts, no Welsh taxpayer will want to shell out on ermine robes for a new set of peers. But if a reviewing chamber is considered an essential safety valve in the Westminster machine why is one not needed in Cardiff Bay?

Wales has fewer sets of eyes to review legislation and a far smaller band of backbenchers to ask difficult questions. This makes it harder for a brave, far-sighted AM to kill a bad Bill.

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