Introduction to British Government by S. G. Richards (auth.)

By S. G. Richards (auth.)

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By S. G. Richards (auth.)

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It is worth mentioning that the disqualifications refer to 'sitting', not to 'standing'. In the 1955 general election in the midUlster constituency the Sinn Fein candidate, Thomas Mitchell, was returned but was barred from taking his seat because he was serving a ten-year prison sentence.! He was re-elected at the ensuing by-election, upon which the High Court awarded the seat to the losing candidate, who, it declared, was the only validly nominated candidate. Likewise, Anthony Wedgwood Benn, having won Bristol South-East at a by-election in 1961 , was prevented from taking his seat on the ground that he was a peer of the realm.

The principle of 'one man, one vote' was, however, established in 1948 with the abolition'of'university and business votes. All British subjects and citizens of the Irish Republic over the age of 18 may vote, with the exceptions of peers, those certified as mentally ill, persons serving a term of imprisonment, and a few minor categories. The right to vote must be supported by adequate facilities for recording one's vote. This requires in the first place effective machinery for the registration of voters.

From Punth, 3 November 1965. Reproduced by courtesy of Punch Publication LId) "In the name of democracy, we/come! " 4 I The Party SystelD The necessity for political parties In a democratic state it is assumed that there are differences of opinion as to the best way of governing it. These differences are embodied in political parties, which present a choice of alternative policies to the electorate and which seek to gain power to implement their ideas. It is sometimes claimed that it would be better to have a government composed of the best men without reference to parties.

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