Sunday, March 22, 2009

Electoral Reform

In 1983 Labour held off the Alliance by just 27.6 per cent to 25.4 per cent but was rewarded by 209 seats (31 per cent) to 23 (3.5 per cent). Conceive of the fury felt by the Lib Dems at this One comforting thing is that we are treated almost as badly ..

Why am I a Conservative ?The phrase” Both ends against middle” ,popped into my head. The ’ higher’ me deplores arrogant rationalism and has a dimly understood need for spiritual sustenance and belonging . The Mr. Hyde to this romantic Dr Jekyll ,however ,is irredeemably cynical about everything . I consider it entirely valid to ask socialists where they are sending their own children to school. When new shiny ideas occur I will assume unquestioningly that old dowdy political motives lie behind them and that they will not work.
For me this is logical . Seeing “society “( for want of a better word ) as a phenomenon of endless personal and familial interactions, the idea that a person is so wise as to be able to make it better is inherently unlikely . I am rather glad it works as well as it does, and if that looks illogical to ,I could not care less . I therefore support institutions that encode time’s solutions , traditional institutions like marriage say .Being able to construct a good argument for doing so is a secondary matter of tactics Perhaps I am unusual , I have no idea .
This brings me to the subject of electoral reform where Conservatives must do everything we hate . Modernise (eeek) ,and support a popular bandwagon (Ouch ! ).My vision of a Conservative , remember is a person at once more loyal high minded and romantic and more pragmatic and , reasonable ,even cunning ,than his adversaries . The best and admittedly most dog-eared example of pragmatic modernisation is Benjamin , Dizzy , Disraeli. The Times once famously wrote that he saw the Conservative voter in the working man just as the sculptor sees "the angel in the marble". . His reaction to rising tide of calls for representation was not to resists it but to work with the inevitable and turn it to his advantage in this way.A strikingly similiar state of affairs is once again upon us .
Firstly lets adnmit that the status quo is not an option ,and unless we want the electoral reform wave to be surfed used by the left ,alone, we had better get our boards out .
We have good reason to .If at the next GE if Cameron gets 39 per cent and Brown 37 per cent, 9the Lib Dems 21 per cent ),. Labour would win with a working majority of 14 . Could they govern Britain on this basis ? Maybe , but I very much doubt that would go for England in which they would be significantly the smaller Party….( fill in own WLQ rant …). Legitimacy is at breaking point
It didn’t used to matter .Attlee had won Labour's highest-ever share of the poll in 1951 on 48.8 per cent, yet Churchill won trailing on 48 per cent. Few people knew in that quieter media age but more importantly the two main parties had 97 per cent of the vote on an 85 per cent turnout. That authority is gone and wishing will not bring it back At the next election, a six point lead could give Gordon Brown a majority of 100, while David Cameron would need to finish nine points ahead just to escape hung parliament territory. Labour could expect to be 90 seats ahead of level on votes, and still be the largest party in the Commons even if they were up to five points behind. It takes 25608 votes to elect a Labour MP and 44373 to elect a Conservative.
So the current system is appallingly unfair to the Conservative Party even without the devolved Parliaments problem . We have a stake in reform then but above all we must avert the danger of PR ,STV or any other evil foreign concoction . Given the way the tide is going we do this by going further towards direct accountability .

The Horror of Proportional Representation
Look at Italy Israel and Weimar Germany etc.
You cannot throw the establishment out.
It hands even more power to the over-mighty centre (800,000appx, decide the election result now )
It means you do not know what government you are voting for
There is no personal accountability to real people.
Instead of an MP you have 1/650th of all of then ,or in other words none
Issues on which the political class as a whole differ from voters are even more unfairly biased .The EU , immigration , crime and punishment , social conservatism generally. The Left count the socially conservative nationalist working class vote as a votes for gay marriage and the United states of Europe .Their dream is to trap these voters into a permanent Lib Lab progressive alliance
It accentuates bourgeois control , hence above
The Party liked least( The Liberals ) become the most powerful
It tends to be corrupting , deals ..bribes … ( Look at Labour bribing Paisley over Lisbon)
A referendum on PR would be lost, easily
It can only be an insider fit up imposed by stealth
The Labour Party only sing the song when they are losing (Gerrymandering by a losing Party of this sort now would be an assault on democracy )
If it was used as a means of establishing a Labour Liberal Reich ( The intention obviously ) , Conservatives would be forced to call for an English Parliament from which no system could eject us and the thre Union would be ended without it being clear this is what most people want.
STV counts weak preferences as on a par with strong ones with the obvious intention of swelling the weakly tolerated Party no-one likes … Frankly it is beneath contempt and the most obviously partisan idea .

All good points but there is a more profound danger in any version of PR.Society has within it the aspiring and hard working .If they succeed they will tend to vote Conservative because they will fear that the Labour Party or a Left centre Party once in power will redistribute from them to the more numerous losers . As they tend to be more determined and active they organise better and defend themselves from the equalising tendency of a “Perfect “ democracy . FPTP allows this to happen imperfectly , obviously, but to some extent because it emphasises local organisation and getting the vote out .
A PR Parable
.I am one offive survivors a Desert Island , I get up , kill a wild pig and cook , it .As I am about to eat the other four vote that under our democracy it belongs to them and they eat it . I am allowed enough to get up the strength to kill the next one That’s democratic but its not fair .When you think about it is obvious that PR inevitably tends towards equalising governments and is against the aspiring .

Our salvation is that the progressive majority does not actually exist, the following measures are all ones I would like to see in a package of electoral reform by going directly to the voter I want to outflank the PR brigade:

Open Primaries in safe seats
Fixed terms
Direct election of posts such as Police chiefs
More referendums
Entrenching Commons power to redistribute it back from the executive by such measure as secret ballots among MPs ( say for Select Committee chairmen)
A partially democratised HOL half PR and half nominated experts , great and good etc.( end of tactical voting )
A reduction of the Number of MPs by combining small inner city constituencies
( A complete overhaul of the boundary commission)
A severe reduction the number of Scottish and Welsh Mps as a rough and ready cure the WLQ
A Parliamentary timetable that reflect the fact 70% of legislation comes from Brussels so we see the laws that govern us actually debated
I would be prepared also to consider a two stage election if the winner did not achieve over 50%. This would solve the legitimacy problem.

That sort of a package could ignite politics restore authority and , by the way deliver a Conservative majority for all eternity with even Labour MPs obliged to listen their core support on social issues .. It would stop tactical voting and kill off the Liberals by doing so weaken the link with Brussels over time and re engage everyone because no MP could be a solely Party animal. Combined with an election holiday this could work and it steals the “Fairness” thunder. The Party who wins would have won in all senses .
Sunder at the Fabian Society ( Hat tip Sunder)
Deluded Liberal Matt GB
Back from life support ( Frank Field )


Auntie Flo' said...

Not sure about an election holiday. Half the electorate would b*gger off to the coast. And you might end up with parties roaming the streets in order to round up voters they can get drunk enough to vote for them, or beating up supporters for the the other side outside polling stations - that's how it was done not so many years ago in this country :)

The rest is interesting. However, would it be so much easier to give England its own parliament and cut the s*dding socialists adrift, newms?

Newmania said...

Tempting Fl but
a Not going to happen , the English political class will not give up the power
b Then we are at the mercy of the EU

Little Black Sambo said...

Wouldn't fixed terms result in an enormous period of electioneering, whereas elections called at short notice make that less likely?

Newmania said...

I think an enormous period of electioneering is quite good thing LBS .It might seem boring but the alternative of reenaggement is the advance of single issue and silly Parties .
That propels us towards PR

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