Posts Tagged ‘Voting’

Church of England and women – time to change the voting rules

November 22, 2012

The Church of England did not vote against women bishops, it voted heavily in favour. What turned victory into defeat was the over-conservative, cumbersome system of voting.
The House of Bishops voted 44 to 3 in favour. The House of Clergy voted 148 to 45 in favour. The House of Laity voted 132 to 74 in favour, just short of a two-thirds majority. But the rules said a two-thirds majority was necessary in all three votes. So the motion was defeated (by lay people not the clergy), and nothing will change.
The requirement of a two-thirds majority weights the vote heavily in favour of the status quo. Putting the vote to three different bodies, all of which are required to have two thirds majorities, is a further invitation for somebody to find fault and block it.
If you ask people if they are in favour of something, and they say yes, and then you ask “Are you over there in favour too?” and received the answer again yes, then ask a third time “But what about you others?” eventually some small group will have second thoughts and say “Well, actually no.” It is asking for obstruction.
The Church of England reacted in a modern way sympathetic to women’s expectations when the question of women bishops came up. Its spirit is in the right place. The anachronistic and conservative voting system however made yes mean no.
Time for a change to the rules.

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