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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

"First Past the Post" is in terminal decline.

Miliband and Cameron will only get the message if we break democracy in front of their faces

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It is refreshing to see that a newspaper which for many months now has been publishing and promoting propaganda for the Conservative party, has at least one journalist remaining in its employ, who is prepared to encourage an idea which is completely alien to the philosophy and interests of the major political parties in this country. Recent elections have shown us how the voting system in this country, specifically in General Elections, is not able to democratically reflect the preferences of the vast majority of the population, in terms of which party or parties form a government. For far too long, the Conservative Party or the Labour Party, have dominated the face of British politics and have formed governments, frequently with large majorities, which have borne little if any, reflection of their actual support within the United Kingdom. Indeed, it is not unknown for a party to achieve less than 35% of the votes cast nationally, and yet obtain an overall majority of 66 seats and form a government for the next 5 years. This is not democracy, nor is it fair.
There has been one referendum to test public opinion on the question of Proportional Representation. However, the result of this referendum was always a foregone conclusion after Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat conspired to produce a question which only gave the voters the option of "Alternative Vote" or AV which as everyone knows, including incidentally the Electoral Reform Society, is NOT proportional representation and in most conditions produces a result which would be even more distorted than the First Past the Post system currently in use.
Only by corrupting the question on the voting paper were the major parties able to maintain the status quo and retain the comfort of knowing that whatever the result of a General Election may produce, their time in office would come round eventually. The mystery is why would the Liberal Democrats, who have historically argued for electoral reform, support such a preposterous scheme to pervert the choice of options to just AV?
The answer lies in the construction of the ConDem coalition which gave the Liberal Democrats seats at the cabinet table and all the privileges and perks associated with office, in exchange for support of Tory polices and individual ambitions.
This election of 2015 has now inexorably shifted the debate onto new ground. The emergence of new parties and the advances being made by parties until now considered to be on the fringes of the political scene, have created a situation where political choice has become a reality and people are, if the opinion polls can be believed, prepared to make those choices. Inevitably, this has resulted in an erosion of support for the mainstream parties and the potential for minority government or a rainbow of parties seeking to achieve an overall majority.
It would be a classic betrayal of public trust and potentially a recipe for public dissent, if the voting system of this nation were not changed to reflect the evolving picture of multi party politics. It is interesting to note that over the past few weeks, as the potential combinations of party alliances became more and more complex, there is a perceptible and growing call for a change in the voting system. There has in my view, always been a real need for some form of Proportional Representation in this country. It is a method which we use in practically every other election and is the only system used in other countries.
The case for a Single Transferable Vote, or STV system is compelling and whatever government emerges from the poll on May 7th 2015, it is their duty to implement the change over in time for the next election. The country deserves nothing less and the people will judge harshly any political party which prevaricates and blocks this long overdue reform.