Electoral Reform or Tories Forever

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I am 35 and I’ve never known party politics in the UK to be so messed up. The 2015 General Election and the Brexit vote this year have revealed a good deal of division and dysfunction in representative democracy and the electoral system.

With a system of First-Past-the-Post I think we are staring down an endless future of Conservative-led governments in the UK. Whether or not Scotland goes for independence it’s voters have abandoned Labour and the Tories. The electoral calculus of this means all those Scottish Labour MPs which might have tipped the balance against the Tories are no longer in the mix. It’s an English Tory government forever.

The Corbyn phenomenon serves to highlight that, for many on the left, a centrist Labour Party is indistinguishable from a centrist Tory Party. To be honest, I find it hard to tell the difference. The idea of a Labour-Tory swing voter is absolutely baffling. And anyway, if the mass of non-partisan people in the middle of the electoral bell curve want the trains to run on time and NHS waiting lists reduced it’s not politics they need, it’s good administration. Makes no difference whether it’s the blues or the reds in charge.

So what’s to be done?

There is one proposal which I’ve seen bandied about in a few places and I think I first heard about from my dad last year. It goes like this:

  1. At the next General Election every seat in Parliament is contested by two candidates: one from the Tories and a party that is best placed to defeat them. The non-Tory party candidate stands on a single ticket: electoral reform.
  2. A non-Tory coalition is subsequently elected to carry out one thing: change the UK electoral system to some form of proportional representation. They do this as quickly as possible.
  3. Once this is completed they declare another General Election.

This second General Election would most likely result in a Parliament that actually represents the genuine spectrum of political views in this country, and bring our political system closer in line with the rest of Europe. It will mean splits. I’d expect the political party reordering to result in a Socialist Party, a Social Democratic Party, a Whiggish centre-right party, a Conservative Conservative Party, the Greens, and some Nationalist right-wingers.

You may not like it, but the alternative, while FPtP remains intact, is a one-party future.

How about it? It’s fool-proof, right?

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