Monday 18 July 2016

We need a new voting system for our new political day

When I wrote Brexit: For a New Country I predicted that a vote to leave the European Union would lead to chaos in the political system:

It is funny the way in which the Federasts who want this country to remain under the thumb of Brussels think that they can predict the future. They fill the newspapers and television screens with their lurid fantasies about how terrible life will be, but the simple truth is that they don't really know what will happen once the country is independent anymore than I do.

Certainly the middle class who have taken control of the Labour Party, and who tell us that the Tories will remain in power forever unless we remain under the cold hand of Brussels, are talking utter bollocks of the highest order. The notion that the political class, all of them, right across the board, will just be able to carry on as if nothing has happened after the people have just rejected the cornerstone of over half a century of political and economic policy is just too ludicrous to take seriously.
 I have to be honest and say that it feels nice to be proven right. As I look at the post-referendum chaos in our political system, a chaos that we caused just by rejecting what our betters wanted for us, it is obvious that we are in the morning of a new political day and for a lot of us the future looks a lot brighter than the past ever did.

We have done what the Federasts told us was impossible and got rid of not just a Prime Minister, but pretty much the entire cabinet as well. Just about the only senior Tory figure still standing who played a major part in the referendum campaign is Boris Johnson, with almost everyone else now sitting on the back benches, punch drunk and baffled.

On the other side of the House of Commons, Labour is engaged in yet another bout of internal blood letting, and this time it could be a terminal battle that will leave only the dead on the field as the fighting ends. That would not have happened had we trotted along like obedient little doggies and voted to remain in the European Union

The two main political parties really are like the rotten husks of long dead trees that lean against each other for support. It is quite likely that if one collapses it will take the other with it, which is a good thing when you think about it since neither outfit is fit for purpose.

Labour was established to represent the urban working class, the people who leave school at an early age and who rely on collective action, through their unions or via the Labour Party in parliament, to ameliorate their conditions. Today that party only truly speaks for the polyocracy of local government workers who dominate its membership. In that sense it does not really matter who wins the party's current bout of internal blood-letting, since neither faction really seems to give a tinker's cuss for the people living on the council estates who rely on tax credits to supplement their incomes. Still less does it even try to speak for the skilled, especially the skilled self-employed, who are battling to kept their heads above the deluge of foreign scab labourers that Britain's membership of the European Union has brought to these shores.

The Tories seem to be in somewhat better shape, in that at least they managed to cobble together a new leadership, but the divisions in their ranks between the socially liberal globalists who are employed in the financial sector and the socially conservative shiresmen are there for all the see. The Tories relied on the votes of the people who were told that if they kept their noses clean, got a clutch of decent A-Levels with maybe a degree in something or other afterwards, then a white collar office job as a bank clerk would be theirs for life. Globalisation and new technology are destroying the cushy world that they were led to expect would be theirs just as much as it has already destroyed those in industrial Britain a generation ago.

Neither Labour nor the Tories can fully comprehend that by voting for Brexit we were voting against free market globalisation, just as much as were were voting against social liberalism.

Given this, and given that the two parties are basically dead from the neck up, the need for new parties that represent the real divisions in our country has now become pressing. The giant coalitions that try to cover every interest have failed, and what is needed are at least two new parties, one that would be socially liberal and globalist, the other socially conservative and regulatory. They could keep the old names of Conservative and Labour, as a realignment is possible within parties, which is why the American Democratic Party no longer supports the extension of slavery into the territories, but the realignment has to come about for the new politics to begin.

Standing in the way of that realignment is the voting system, which has to become more representative of the population and the way in which we vote. Back in 1997 the Jenkins Commission reported that the UK should adopt the Additional Member system that is now used in both Scottish and Welsh elections, with considerable success in both countries.

The bulk of the seats would be the single member constituencies that we  have at present, but with a regional set of lists seats that would be elected on a proportionate basis. Jenkins suggested that only twenty percent of the seats should be additional members to avoid getting into the coalition habit, but my feeling is that the weaker a government is the better life is for the ordinary people, so coalitions really do need to be the other of the day. Thus a two-thirds constituency, to one-third AM contingent would meet the requirements under normal circumstances.

Jenkins also suggested that the constituencies should be elected by the Alternative Vote system, where the voter lists his candidate in other of preference. That was rejected for Scotland and Wales, and should probably also be ruled out for Westminster as well, since it makes life complicated. Let the constituency members be elected by the simple plurality, first past the post system as it is more usually called, that we have at present.

The additional members would represent regions of the country. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all small enough in terms of population that they could be regions in their own right, but England would need to be divided, probably into the nine existing regions. If each of the twelve regions had 16 additional members then that comes to 192, which is almost a third of the 600 member House of Commons that is already planned.

Those members would be elected by party list, with the parties nominating more candidates than there are seats to fill. That way, if someone dies or retires, the next person on the list is able to take over without the need for a by-election. Needless to say, constituency vacancies would continue to be filled via by-elections as they are at present.

The advantage of this would be to remove the need for parties that are giant coalitions that are only held together by inertia.  We could have two core parties, one socially liberal and the other socially conservative, with a myriad of smaller parties to the right and left of the big two. The old Monday Club Tories could have their party as could the people on the council estates who still believe in the 1945 consensus. UKIP, if it still exists following British withdrawal from the EU could represent the smaller towns as it does already, but secure in the knowledge that votes in those towns would lead to MPs in Westminster. Regional parties could exist to push their particular interests, as could parties that seek to represent women, ethnic minorities and the disabled.

Compromises would still be made, of course, but they would be open and above board, unlike today where they are made behind closed doors with the political elite deciding what few concessions they need to make to the rest of us to hold power firmly in their own hands. 

Let's be honest, here. We have just overturned over half a century of British political policy with our votes, and left the political elite and their trendy hangers on with their collective arses hanging out the window. Compared to that, changing the voting system so that it reflects the views and wishes of the people who are still ignored by it on a day to day basis looks to me like a piece of cake.

So what are we waiting for? Let's have 'em!


  1. "the weaker a government is the better life is for the ordinary people, so coalitions really do need to be the other of the day." Take your point, but you've got it wrong. The sort of coalition government you get out of any sort of PR-like electoral reform is virtually unremovable, as Angela Merkel will smugly tell you. All that takes is a couple of weeks of horse-trading after an election, and the bastards are sitting pretty. At least FPTP gives us the chance to throw the bastards out.

  2. Yeah, but the German system was set up to stop weak governments happening. My idea is to make sure that they do. Germany has two big parties and a couple of small ones that form coalitions with the biggies, but my aim is to see lots of smaller parties.


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