Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not far enough, Mr Cameron

So David Cameron and the Tories have embraced a small measure of political reform (see here). Like all things related to the Conservatives, when it comes to radical change it’s never enough.

Cameron rejects electoral reform with the ludicrous claim that “Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites.” Excuse me? As I’ve laboured on this blog a number of times, the current system penalises people based on who they vote for. Each Liberal Democrat seat cost around five times the number of votes compared to Labour at the last election. In other words, by voting Liberal Democrat I’m reducing the value of my vote to 20% of that of a Labour voter. How is that fair?

Back in 1977, Hansard concluded that a suitable system would have been 75% FPTP and 25% PR – hardly representative, but a definite step in the right direction (Labour’s majority in 2005 would have been just five, which seems fair considering it enjoyed a massive 36% of the public vote). You keep your connection with your constituency MP, and the 25% of seats given out by PR could be allocated to those who came a close second in seats around the country, thereby taking the decision away from political elites and giving extra representatives to those areas where the results were incredibly close.

At least someone in Labour sees all of this: Alan Johnson, Health Secretary and one of the few ministers untainted by the expenses scandal, has long been a proponent of PR. I suppose it’s too much to hope he might end up in a position of power before Labour are banished to the wilderness for another generation…

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