Saturday, 8 May 2010

The PR debate nonsense......

Recently, and especially in the aftermath of the election, there's been a great deal of discussion and righteous posturing about proportional representation.

I can't say I've ever been that much of a fan - sure, the FPTP system with the current make-up of the constituencies and distribution of voters creates a result that renders a population of MPs that doesn't match the proportion of votes. Maybe that isn't fair, but hey, life isn't fair. I'm not even really convinced that it's necessarily desirable to offer an elected postion to someone who represents beliefs shared by 0.15% of the electorate, which is the logical extension of the PR argument - unless it's not really about PR, but about pandering to the LibDems.

Theres a real issue about the link between voting and identifying your elected representative too, I think.

But the current manoeverings within the hung parliament has really got me thinking. The negotiations, held in private, with all the dealing and horse trading and brinksmanship - this isn't good, is it? This isn't really open democracy.

And under PR, we'd never have another majority government, so this would be the norm. Is that what we want?

So. Debating, holding a referendum on PR is missing the point by a huge margin. It's not the voting system that needs to be reviewed. It's the wider political system - how government is constituted, how it operates, the very values it seeks to stand for.

People point to other countries as proof that hung parliaments or coalitions can work. Well fine. But they aren't the UK government. I'm no expert on foreign parliamentary mechanics, but I bet there are fundamental cultural and structural differences that mean it's much more practical to work in those places.

Just focussing on FPTP vs STV or PR is dangerously missing the point, it seems to me. That should be the final, minor part of changing the political system.

If that's what we want of course.

To me, for all its flaws, it seems to me that the current system isn't that bad.

There are more important things that all that intellectual energy and time would be better employed at.

Like fixing the economy.

And working out why so many people have demonstrated how tribal, bigoted, closed-minded and generally stupid they are. By voting Labour.

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