Monday, 11 May 2015

Electoral reform?

I joined the Electoral Reform Society yesterday, because... well, it's obvious why. First Past The Post was really unfair in this election: I think both UKIP and the Greens are nutters, but the people who voted for them deserve representation. Thatcherites like me, who believe in free entry into markets, should not support a political system which creates a duopoly. And most importantly, FPTP is now encouraging the breakup of the UK, a country I rather like.

What are our chances? There is certainly a huge wave of support, and it is not just from the usual suspects – perhaps ordinary people are coming to see that this is more than an obscure technical issue. On the other hand, we had a referendum on changing the voting system just 4 years ago. And since the Tories – alas – have an absolute majority there is no reason for them to do it again.

The question is whether Labour will now finally get behind electoral reform. If so, then we could easily get reform in 2020. Labour have traditionally benefited from the two-party system, but they have had their Scottish ground cut out from beneath them, and this will not change easily. If you are in Scotland and left wing, will you vote for a centrist party – or a more Left party that promises to support a progressive coalition? Labour got attacked for being too Left in England and being "red Tories" in Scotland. They can decentralize their party structure but this will only help so much. So, perhaps they will see the sense in getting the benefit of the many Scottish voters who supported them, and who are now represented by just one MP.

The country's establishment should also get on board. The great and good of the UK surely do not want to watch while their country fragments. Electoral reform cannot stop nationalism, but it does prevent a single party with a regional support base – and that describes all our parties now – from dominating the whole of politics. For that reason it must be centripetal.