Let the horse trading begin!
Save for Christmas and birthdays, I’ve never actually been given what I asked for before. A hung parliament with the Lib Dems in the position to do some good. Let’s hope that good is a change in the voting system (…okay, and my £700 tax break).
I was up at three on the Thursday morning to watch the results. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been following the breaking news avidly. In today’s slight pause as deals are brokered, I found out that Greece needed over a hundred billion Euros to stop its country being repossessed, and there’s an oil spill from a BP platform off the coast of the US. Apparently, the rest of the world hasn’t stopped existing. I’ve not checked my emails or any forums…
According to Liam Fox, “It would seem to me very strange in an election that was dominated by the economy…if the government of the UK was held to ransom over an issue that the voters did not see as their priority.”
Balls to you, Liam Fox. I’m a voter, and electoral reform was the single most important issue for me in this election, closely followed by personal liberty. The economy can handle itself. It’s a complicated, lumbering beast but it’s been around for hundreds of years and this hiccup isn’t going to kill it.
Here’s a quick explanation of why the voting system needs to change:
|Party||Number of seats||Percentage of votes||Percentage of seats|
Hardly representative, eh?
Now, there’s two problems with some form of proportional representation:
The first is that people object to drastic change, and drastic change is sometimes needed. It’s needed now–our electricity infrastructure needs drastic, far-reaching change and it’s being stymied by companies who don’t see the profit and nimbys who would think windfarms shouldn’t be built because ‘they’re ugly’. But we live in a democracy and wharrgabl and idiocy is the price we have to pay for that;
The second is that, if no party has a majority, every law is going to have to be passed with back room deals between the politicians. That’s the Tory’s argument against it. But it also means that, when there’s a hugely unpopular law on the table–like the war in Iraq–the government can’t simply break out the whip and threaten and bully its MPs to toeing the party line. Under the current system, the government is given a blank cheque for anything it wants for five years. I think that’s something which needs to be killed, and back room deals are a price worth paying.
<—Edited to Add—>
My good friend Jo pointed out a third problem with a proportional representation system of election: The danger of extremists being able to wield power. Under our current system, a party like the BNP need a huge swing to gain any voice in parliament. Under a PR system, small amounts of scattered support throughout the country would give them their voice. The trouble with extremists is that they feed on fear, and the larger the platform they have, the more able they are to create fear. It’s a feedback loop.
However, as Jo says, extremists get voted in because they don’t think the other parties are listening to them. PR isn’t the problem, merely the mechanism which exposes the problem. It’s like getting angry when a shop declines your debit card because of insufficient funds. The problem is you’ve got no money; it’s got nothing to do with the poor person behind the checkout.
You know, about eight years ago, I wrote some background for a roleplaying game called City in Descent. It took place in London in 2013. The Thames had flooded and England was in chaos. How did we get from stable, modern, democratic country to flooded hive of scum and villainy? Well, the 2005 elections produced a hung parliament and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition…