Hung Parliament Update – Warming to PR, even if the BNP get seats

All told, it looks unlikely that a deal will be sealed by the time markets open on Monday. This will make Monday a very volatile day.

Charlotte Gore points out the hurdles and gates Nick Clegg must negotiate within his own party. On Radio 1 news today they called Clegg ‘the most powerful man in Britain’. He isn’t. He is in a Gordian knot.

Meanwhile, Cameron has his own internal struggle to manage. Backdrop is a (fair) assumption that PR spells the end of the party. A complete upheaval of the UK’s political landscape, with it. In the foreground, though, are complaints about Cameron’s leadership style – decisions are being taken by a small clique. Heir to Blair indeed.

Labour’s internal schism seems to have been papered over, at least for the interim while wagons are circled.

We need electoral reform. We need first to understand the implications of such changes.

Prima facie, I support Cameron’s plans to equalise the size of constituencies by voter numbers. I haven’t yet seen any calculations on how this election would have turned out in such a scenario, but if you have, please leave a comment.

Proportional representation is an altogether different proposition though. It’s one I may post separately about, or I may just refer you to those better qualified to comment than I.

A twittist pointed out earlier that

“if we had proportional representation result from election would be Conservatives 234 Labour 188 Lib Dems 149 UKIP 20 BNP 12 SNP 11 Greens 6”

Perhaps, but if we had PR, people would have voted differently, due to the different tactics and implications involved in such a system.

After a period of flux after the introduction of PR, new political axes would emerge, around which socialists, democrats, libertarians, nationalists, theists, neocons and others can coalesce. New parties and alliances would be forged in the heat of change.

Can you see any other way that LPUK could become any kind of a force inside a generation?

Sure, the BNP may get a go at seats in Parliament, having polled more than 500,000 votes, but so what? They’ve had council seats – they lost them all on Thursday. They have a seat in the EP. They’ll lose it. The BNP has imploded over the last couple of weeks, without any external interference.

So if you want the right sort of radical representation, you also have to tolerate the wrong sort, be that BNP, EDP, CDP, socialist workers or whatever. At least, then, you get to have your debate, in Parliament, on TV, at the hustings.

Discussions and arguments of real substance, with real passion.

How could that be any worse than the 3 moribund Fabian dinosaurs that are currently carving up our future for their own benefit?

Bring it on.



10 thoughts on “Hung Parliament Update – Warming to PR, even if the BNP get seats

  1. Got some similar numbers earlier on my blog. The fact that fascists like the BNP and Green Party might win a few seats under PR is not a reason not to have it, and outside the Labour/Conservative mainstream, almost everybody seems to want it.

    However, I am concerned that there may be problems with it that aren’t properly being considered. Many other countries use it, and they end up being run by left-liberal social democrats just like we do. I am hoping that someone will buck the current trend and write up a really good defense of FPTP so that the downsides of PR can be properly considered.

  2. I agree – FPTP is a broken system. I would be happy enough with either the Scottish Parliament additional member system or Irish STV, although I would probably prefer the latter.

    You are quite right to say that PR would lead to different voting patterns. In particular I feel FPTP increases the LibDems’ vote share as they are seen as a general repository for protest votes. In the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections their vote share was well under 20%.

  3. Okay, how about 2¢ from someone who lives where they use PR? It’s great…. for electing an upper chamber to scrutinise, amend and if necessary block legislation coming from the lower chamber. I’m more than happy with PR being used to elect the Senate here, and I have to say that collectively the Senate to a better job at keeping the government from getting too out of hand than either the Lords or the opposition have in the UK. Part of the reason for that is that the one Senator mini-parties and independents sometimes become very important, and thanks to a couple of them we’ve had two egregious bits of legislation blocked in the last couple of years (not that the government isn’t still trying to get at least one of them in).

    But having said that there are downsides. I’ve gone on about this at length elsewhere so I’ll keep this short. You end up with party lists, so a shit Senator here is nigh on impossible to get rid of if he has the support of his party. High enough up his party list and his seat is absolutely secure. Hands up who thinks that’s a good thing? Yeah, thought so. Secondly there’s no constituency link. Who is my Senator? Which of the twelve Victorian Senators do I contact if I have an issue I want brought up in the Senate? The answer is all and none because there is no constituency. Now that’s not necessarily a problem because some forms of PR can have constituencies still, but really it’s not a problem here because it’s only the Senate that is elected by PR. The lower house is done by a form of AV and the MPs have local constituencies, so if I want something brought up in the House of Representatives I do have an MP whose name I know and whose office is in the phone book. He’s a twat and I’m sure I’d get nowhere but the point is there is someone who is definitely my federal MP as opposed to the dozen people who are Senators for the state I happen to live in.

    My 2¢ then? AV or something like it for the Commons. Kick out the Lords and turn it into something Senate-y (worth doing just to fuck off the Mandlesnake, Kinnock & Kinnock and all the other serial dodgers and election losers and cronies) and elect that with some form of PR. Keep the government in the Commons and block anyone from the Senate-y thingy from being in it, and make it clear that the Senate-y thingy is there as a brake on the government so doesn’t initiate legislation itself unless a Senator-y thingy person can persuade an MP to do it for them. And bring in recalls, open primaries and referenda as Dan Hannan and Doug Carswell suggested so that any individual bastard starts flipping homes and claiming for TVs and non-existent invoices can be brought back to face a by-election, and with luck lose so spectacularly that the bottle of whisky and the revolver look like a good option.

  4. I’m torn here… while I like the idea of having more MPs of different parties (lots of different parties preferably) in Westmonster, I really like the idea of having an MP. You know, my MP, that I can write letters to, generally harass and send copies of 1984 to. One that’s from my area. As Angry says, we’d lose all that with PR and be stuck with party-list-drones from Islington. Everywhere.
    The idea the Cameroons have been sprouting (spouting?) of having equal-population constituencies has been the most sensible thing I’ve heard all week, although whether it would end up with a better mix in the house I’ve yet to see, I dunno. Perhaps there is no perfect system. Except this, perhaps?

  5. “Perhaps, but if we had PR, people would have voted differently, due to the different tactics and implications involved in such a system.”

    I think that’s a bit of an assumption, given the number of ‘tribal’ voters we have…

  6. Tribals aside, I think people would have voted differently if they knew (such as in a PR system) that their votes would have “counted” for minority parties. Indeed I had a hard time choosing between Conservative (to keep the commies out) and UKIP (my actual choice, given my choices) right up until I set pencil to paper.

    Not that I’m in favour of PR: As I said, I LIKE having my own, personal MP. I think it’s good to send a representative of each local area to be part of the government, I just think the system needs to be more representative.

  7. Angry Exile raises a very good point; democratic accountability of an MP to his or her constituency.

    As FPTP now stands, if your MP does not represent your interests in the national assembly (representatives, commons, whatever) then come the next election, you can vote them out, or force your party (if you’re tribal) to replace the member standing. They are your MP to hassle at will on any issue, to ask questions or take to task. The idea is that they know the region and some/most of the people and their concerns and so can represent them folly and properly in the lower house (maybe the problem is that mos MPs DON’T do this and that is what needs reforming???)

    Under PR, how do the seats get allocated? Under PR, using the figures above,

    “if we had proportional representation result from election would be Conservatives 234 Labour 188 Lib Dems 149 UKIP 20 BNP 12 SNP 11 Greens 6”

    who goes where? UKIP, BNP didn’t get the majority in any seat, so which ones will they represent? A consituency that didn’t want them. The Lib Dems would have got 149, that means that quite a few Tory and Labour dominated areas will get someone representing them who does not share their interests. Is this truly fair. If I lived in a seat (here in Aust) that voted overwhelmingly Liberal and yet was lumbered with a Labor or Green member, I’d be somewhat pissed off to say the least.

    And further to Angy Exile’s points, with the use of party lists, the popular in the parties will be the ones that get seats, not those popular in the electorate – these are not the same thing. Under PR, if you are unhappy with your MP’s performance (if you’re lucky enough to get one aligned to the majority of interests) and vote him out, he or she can just as easily be put back in place despite your vote.

    Is electoral reform really needed in the UK; I can’t comment on the details as I don’t know them. While PR is A solution, it may not be THE solution, pros and cons need to be hammered out. Personally I think it is a bad idea; what would help is if MPs made the time and effort to connect with their consituancies, engage with them and listen to what they say. The REAL lesson from this election is that if you take your voters for granted, ignore their concerns and treat them like idiots, as Labour did, you’ll lose your seats, exactly as Labour did.

  8. I have no wish to be subjected to “Hung Parliaments” occurring after every election as happens in many countries that utilise PR. A strong positive Government is good for a country, wishy washy deals and pandering do not.

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