This is not what Britain voted for

‘The negotiating teams are working really well together.’

That is the latest statement from William Hague, speaking on behalf of the Conservative Party team engaged in discussions with the Liberal Democrats.  One wonders what the Butcher’s Bill will be in terms of culled manifesto commitments when a deal is finally thrashed out.  One thing is certain, if a deal is made then Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters are not going to get what they thought they were voting for.

No one knows what is being agreed behind closed doors.  It is politicians, not voters, who are deciding what commitments are dropped.  There os no accountability to the electorate in this process.  Power continues to reside with the political class, the voters are nothing more than ignorant observers in this process.

This is the common consequence that can be expected if proportional representation is adopted as the electoral system in this country.  Too many people look at the election results and say that because across the country a party achieved a certain percentage of the vote, they should have that percentage of Parliamentary seats.  It’s nonsense.  Parliamentary elections are where constituencies vote for the person who will represent them in Parliament.  Quite properly the person with the most votes wins.

People who vote for candidates who are not elected have not been disenfranchised at all, they were merely backing a candidate who was rejected by most people.  If they do not like the outcome they should understand that their agenda isn’t sufficiently popular.  It is wholly unacceptable that a small collection of like minded constituencies should be able to force the wishes of a majority of constituencies to be compromised.

PR is just a vehicle for giving those holding the least popular views the whip hand over those who hold the most popular.  Yet it is presented as democratic to make it seem acceptable.  The constituency model is essential to our democracy but PR undermines that.  The electoral reform that is needed is that which prevents electoral fraud from being perpetrated and that equalises the number of people in each constituency. PR is not needed to achieve that.

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6 Responses to “This is not what Britain voted for”

  1. 1 Gareth 10/05/2010 at 12:58 pm

    Voting for a manifesto that gets carved up behind closed doors is a consequence of PR. Yet manifesto pledges have already been rendered worthless by our political class. It may makes parties be upfront about what is and isn’t negotiable and galvanise voters to be more careful with their votes.

    However, I do think the talk of people being unrepresented because their candidate lost and PR as a means to fix this is a strawman. Everyone, whether they voted or not, supported the winner or not, is represented in Parliament. PR in that sense is divisive because it is giving in to people insisting that only someone like them can represent them.

    The logical end of that is MPs being voted for on the basis of their gender and race as much as their affiliations. I don’t actually care who or what my MP is, and once elected not even what party my MP is a member of so long as they do a good job*, and PR doesn’t fix *that*.

    Same as I don’t care what my doctor is, Police are, firemen and the rest. I just want them to be good at their job and many MPs simply aren’t.

    * I think that is where things come unstuck. To me an MP doing their job is about protecting their constituents, holding Government to account and making sure laws are rational and proportionate to the issues. I suspect there are loads of people who see things differently, centred around whether their MP is in the Government or not. Government has become the highest status when it should be being a Parliamentarian.

  2. 3 Mike Riordan 10/05/2010 at 2:26 pm

    I agree. As ever, the issue is lack of transparency because transparency allows reasonable solutions and courses of action to evolve – almost of their own accord. The actual voting system doesn’t matter too much if voters are well-informed and involved.

    Unfortunately, in the UK, we are neither well-informed nor involved. To see why this is so, we only have to remind ourselves that there was no Lisbon treaty referendum and then spend an hour or two watching TV ‘news’ or reading a ‘newspaper’. The UK does not seem to have developed a taste for transparency or good quality in-depth news media, so the voting system hardly matters. PR will resolve nothing.

  3. 4 JohnRS 10/05/2010 at 5:36 pm

    I have just checked the list of candidates in my constituency and I cannot find Mr H Parliament.

    All the talking heads that keep telling me I voted for a hung parliament are (as usual) lying. Based on my own personal choice and/or cussedness I voted for a specific candidate from a specific party. I wish to continue to do so.

    Today’s comedy of fools makes my point. I have no interest in voting for a system that, after the election is over, allows a tiny group of MPs to sit in not-smoke-filled rooms deciding on what they think I really meant and how best to carve up the trough.

  4. 5 Rereke Whakaaro 11/05/2010 at 9:43 am

    I think your position on PR is a little too generalised.

    There are a number of different forms of PR. The one that is used in New Zealand national politics is the Mixed Member Proportional system. In this system you have two votes – one for the party of your choice, and one for the electorate candidate of your choice.

    This system has most of the faults that you describe, except that the minor parties get some seats if they poll over a certain threshold. New Zealand has “enjoyed” some form of coalition government ever since the system was introduced, usually with the highest polling party and one or more of the minor parties.

    The Single Transferrable Vote system is an alternative, that is used in New Zealand for local body elections. In this system you express your first, second, and third choices etc. for the number of candidates on offer. It works well for electing councillors, but I am not sure how well it would work in national politics. As I understand it, once a candidate has enough votes to be elected to a seat, any remaining votes are apportioned to the party.

    Both systems have two types of seats. There are electorate seats – one for each electorate – and “List” seats where members are appointed by the parties based on the total number of votes. Most of our senior MP’s are only on the list – i.e. have no electorate, and so are not really answerable to anybody.

  5. 6 Autonomous Mind 11/05/2010 at 10:25 am

    How many independents sit in the Beehive? I think that explains my position on PR. It either breaks the link between a constituency and its MP or increases the backroom power of the political parties. With 4 million people, perhaps PR is suited to NZ. But it is not, in my humble opinion, suitable for the UK Parliament.

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