Sunday, 9 May 2010

Electoral Reform (The PR debate)

For those of you who read what this was before then got to the socio-political commentary and went "Tsk, this has all become a bit serious" (And those of you squeeing frantically, breathlessly whispering "It gets less serious?" in a state of disbelief) there was no way I could possibly have discontinued my ramblings on politics without discussing the latest craze to hit the electorate: Proportional Representation.

There are marches, and letters, and rallies, and there's generally quite the hullabaloo about the whole shindig. People seem genuinely excited about the idea of Proportional Representation, apparently just realising the current system is weighted towards allowing a 2 party system to flourish because of Nick Clegg's policies. The Lib Dems really have the most to gain from proportional representation, due to their middling-to-good vote record and their bad-to-dreadful allocation of seats. There's a delightful statistic about the number of votes each party got per seat. The Tories got 35k votes/seat, Labour got 33.4k votes/seat, whilst Lib Dem got 120k votes/seat. A slight imbalance showing that Lib Dem have the most to gain by proportional representation, whilst labour would lose the most of the main parties (Green would do well too, because they have 286k votes/seat).

So the public thinks proportional representation is the way forward, so I'm surprised Easy Dave didn't sell out the Conservatives in order for votes. As any hung-parliament-scaremonger will tell you, proportional representation rarely delivers the firm, strong majority government this nation needs to not plummet into a chaotic and anarchistic existence where politicians run amok, watering down policies (Some less wilfully horrendous people (as in, people who don't write for the Mail or the Sun) might just say universal agreement is a good idea) and so forth, and these scaremongers would probably be right; no party has won more than 50% of the vote since the Conservatives in 1931, when they got 55%, and the last time before that was before women got the vote.

So proportional representation leads to hung parliaments, but on the upside, it tends to provide a more accurate reflection of the nation's voting habits, because in this election there was no real winner. But in a much more real sense, they were all losers, Cameron didn't win enough seats, Labour lost loads of seats, and Clegg got lots of votes, but the current system gave him very few seats.

Clegg's plight highlights how unfair the current system actually is. Many people would have been voting Labour purely because they didn't want Cameron to ascend to power, other voting Conservative in protest at the Labour government (It's often said oppositions do not win elections, governments lose them. I can think of no greater example than the fact people wilfully voted in David Cameron), but it's generally accepted that a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote under the current system, whereas if proportional representation were brought in, perhaps more people would vote logically rather than tactically, using their vote as an "Anti-vote", a vote against something rather than for something.

Of course there are many PR-systems, the one currently used in Scotland, Wales and London is MMP, other PR alternatives (Such as single transferable vote, another good choice) are available, but I think the key point is people are aware the current system is unfair, and want a review of the whole system, and really, people want change.

Seriousness over. Tonight "When Moyles Met the Radio 1 Breakfast DJs" is on. I'm guessing you can already predict my opinion of the show. I'm excited already.

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