Friday, 5 February 2016

Proportional Representation, Labour and the Tories.

The new electoral boundary changes being foisted on the UK by the Tories are designed, by the Tories, to ensure that Labour can never win an overall majority in the House of Commons again. Combined with other, seemingly unrelated and piecemeal changes, such as voter deregistration, they are working hard, but quietly, to ensure they will have an overall majority in 2020 and beyond regardless of how unpopular they become. Bit like North Korea...

The prospects of Labour forming a majority government are, of course greatly reduced by a deeply unpopular leader who refuses to discuss the issues that voters care about, preferring to play to his gallery which consists of that roughly 0.5% of the electorate that has selected him. However he has started to that think about forming an alliance with other parties, like the Lib Dems, the Greens and the SNP to produce electoral reform resulting in Proportional Representation (PR), a group of left-of-centre parties joining together to beat the Tories at the ballot box and then change the voting system from the current increasingly unfair one, to a fair and proportional one.

It has to be recognised that, with him at the helm, even obtaining this will be difficult as Labour heads for sub 25% territory in the polls. However it is the first sensible thing he has done since becoming leader and as such it should be supported. Interestingly the other major proponent of PR in the Labour Party is Chukka Ummuna. Proportional Representation would be good for the country because, at least in the medium term, it would reverse the situation intended by the Tories. Instead of locking Labour out of power for a generation it would lock the Tories out of power for a generation, as they struggle to form alliances with the UKiPs and the SNP. This is to the good. Imagine if the country had been a Tory-free zone since 1979 instead of being dominated by hard-right Thatcher and Cameron governments. The country would be in a far better condition; we would not have had Gove's disastrous education reforms, rail privatisation, NHS privatisation, cuts to social security and public services on the swinging scale they have been, high levels of unemployment and low pay, increasing child poverty, Section 28... the list is long and painful. The country would be immeasurably better off now if it had not had these Tory governments.

So Labour must start making moves to change the electoral system. A government made up of a group of parties that commands a majority of voters in the UK and which have committed to PR in their manifestos, would be free to implement such a system without a referendum and could then proceed to govern by consensus and persuasion rather than by imposition and fiat. It would be free to undo all the damage that successive Conservative governments have wrought on our social system.

The irony is that, if the Tories hadn't decided to implement their distorted new electoral system designed to keep them in power come what may, then Labour would probably never have started considering PR. This means that ultimately a policy designed to keep them in power could result in them being excluded from power fro a very long time.

Bring it on!


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