David Cameron says we shouldn’t back PR because it will let in the BNP. What the lying bastard really means of course is we shouldn’t back PR because it might stop him becoming prime minister. (Actually, it probably wouldn’t — under PR the Tories would probably be the largest single party — but it would stop him having the essentially dictatorial power the PM has in the current system).
Cameron’s article contains a whole host of lies and half-truths, and entitrely confirms my earlier evaliation that he’s a glib liar with no deep intellect. Let’s examine it in detail…
This is the great strength of the electoral system we have now: it’s called first past the post and it means you can kick ’em out if you want to.
HALF TRUTH. Under FPTP you can kick your MP out. Your vote has no effect on any other constituency. But under FPTP most seats are safe seats so while you can kick your MP our in theory, you can’t in practise. Under AV (and AV+) you can kick your constituency MP out, in theory and in practise, because there is no splitting the ballot problem and he always faces the risk of a challenger with the same ideological background but representing a different party (or an independent).
This is real accountability, real democracy, real people power.
LIE. The present system, where you get one chance (at a time of the PM’s choosing) to kick out your MP, onece every 4-5 years isn’t real accountability. It’s an elected dictatorship.
So it is incredible that at a time when our entire political system is suffering a crisis of trust — when what we need more than anything is a radical redistribution of power from political elites
This would be political elites like David Cameron, Eton, Bullingdon Club, inherited £30 million, I take it?
to the man and woman on the street — members of the Cabinet are proposing to get rid of this system for one that is less accountable, less democratic and less open.
Proportional representation may sound like a fair and effective system
LIE. Proportional representation isn’t a system. It’s lots of different systems, the main ones of which are party list, AV+ and STV. Party list systems are crap, and no-one is proposing them for Westminster. AV+ and STV are the only systems seriously proposed for Westminster, a fact that Cameron is well aware of.
but it’s anything but. Let me explain. First it removes the link between one MP and one constituency.
LIE. Under AV+, the system Alan Johnson favours, each constituency elects an MP, as at present. Under STV, there is still a constituency link: each constituency elects more than one member, typically 3-5.
PR comes in many forms but more often than not you find yourself voting for a party rather than just one person.
LIE. Both under AV+ and STV you’re voting for an individual to represent you. (Under AV+ top up seats also exist, which are allocated according to electoral list or party).
It’s also HALF-TRUTH because under FPTP, to prevent the splitting the vote problem, it normally involves a two-party system where the winning candidate is chosen by the party and not the electorate.
Under our current system, when you put your pencil to the ballot paper you’re putting your cross against someone’s name — one person to represent your interests, to go to if you have a problem: one person whom you feel a direct link to.
LIE. This is also true under AV+. Under STV, it’s even better, becausre you’ll have several MPs and you can go to the one you feel most represents your views.
A move to faceless politics would sever this local link and damage voter engagement.
LIE. As Cameron well knows, both the PR systems suggestsed for Britain retain the constituency link.
This Thursday in the European elections you won’t be voting for an individual but for a political party in a massive sprawling regional constituency. PR has destroyed the link between voters and their MEP.
No, PR hasn’t, the party list system has.
The only people who have gained from this are the political parties who call the shots on drawing up the party lists.
Just like they call the shots at determining ther candidate under FPTP, you hypocritical shit.
The second problem with PR is that it gives smaller parties an unfair and disproportionate boost.
LIE. Proportional prepresentation by definition means that parties are represented proportionately, not disproportionately. Cameron is against it because he favours disproprtional representation: he wantsd the tories to get 60% of the seats on 38% of the votes.
This may sound good but what you’ll find is that more often than not, PR turns politics into a beauty contest between various fringe parties — either peddling niche concerns or ugly extremist views.
These “fringe” parties, between them, represent the majority of British voters. In the last nationwide PR election, the 2004 European election, the Tories and Labour between them got 8,115,773 votes (46.2% of the total), while other parties and independents got 9,462,451 votes (53.8%). If a general election was held under PR, it’s likely that Labour and the Tories between them would get less than half the vote. Why? Because the voters don’t think they represent them.
This Thursday Britain votes in the European elections. If just eight per cent of the electorate votes for the BNP then as a result of the PR system that Labour forced on us, that party is guaranteed a seat in the European Parliament.
LIE (or maybe Cameron is simply innumerate). As Mark Wadsworth points out: “to win a seat in the largest UK constituency for EU election purposes (the South East with ten MEPs) a party would need at least 9.09% of the vote (i.e. 1/10+1) to guarantee a seat in the EU Parliament. The North West (where BNP are most likely to get a seat) returns eight MEPs, so the BNP would need at least 11.11 of the vote (1/8+1) to guarantee a seat.”
Imagine the same thing happening in national government. Not only would the BNP get in — they would also wield influence out of all proportion to their numbers, for the simple fact that in coalition governments, it’s the smaller parties that are the power brokers.
LIE. The BNP would get a few seats, but no power. The BNP want to kick out everyone who is non-white, a platform that means that the vast majority of the population view them with repugnance. So they are a toxic brand that wouldn’t be welcomed into a coalition lest they tarnish their coalition partners.
That feeds in to the third weakness of PR — so much of the evidence from abroad shows that it leads to weak, unstable governments. Between 1947 and 1993 Italy‘s parliament was voted in through a system of proportional representation.
HALF-TRUTH. If you pick a single country, you can illustrate whatever point you want to make. Japan also has proportional representation, and has had one party almost continually in power since 1948.
At a time when we’re facing the greatest economic crisis in living memory, it’s not in-fighting or compromise we need — it’s clear leadership.
I.e. concentration of powern in one person, namely the Honourable David William Donald Cameron MP. The exact opposite from what Cameron said earlier in the same article “a radical redistribution of power from political elites”.
The fourth major problem with PR is that the coalition governments it inevitably creates
LIE. The Scottish parliament is elected under PR, andcurrently has one-party in power (the SNP). There are plenty of examples of PR not producing coalition governments; I’ve already mentioned Japan, others include South Africa and Malta. In the UK, where the two biggest parties between them get less than half the votes, PR would be necessary if government was to represent the people.
For all these reasons, PR is a step backwards. We need to move forwards, and it’s clear the direction we should take. If we want an electoral system that is fairer, we need to ensure that each constituency has equal worth.
Why would we want each constituency to have equal worth? In order to make each vote have equal value, of course. Which can only happen with PR.
But as well as cutting the size of Parliament, we’ve got to reform it, too. Right now legislation that affects the lives of millions can sail through without proper debate. We need to make Parliament a real engine of accountability. That means reducing the power of the whips,
We need to get rid of FPTP to achieve this. Either AV, AV+ or STV would do.
But much more important than electoral reform or Parliamentary reform is reform of power itself — where it lies in our country. It’s held in the wrong places by the wrong people, often making decisions at the wrong time. The EU, judges, advisers on the sofa of No10. Anyone apart from you.
What you really mean, you lying toad, is “anyone apart from me”.