Monday, May 10, 2010

The Consequences of the LibDems Backing Out Now

Laura Kuenssberg is reporting the David Cameron and Nick Clegg have met again this lunchtime and that the two leaders are now briefing their front bench teams on the agreement which has apparently been reached - or if not reached, which is very close to being reached.

Despite meetings having taken place between the LibDems and Labour, I now find it almost inconceivable that the LibDems can now either turn down the deal with the Tories or switch horses to Labour. The electorate can be a very unforgiving beast, and I suspect that if the result of this is a second general election, the LibDems would be absolutely decimated.

Sam Coates has tweeted that Tory MPs are being sounded out about AV or AV+. It will be interesting to see if that is true, and what the reaction is. Would AV be a price worth paying for an agreement, or would this be a step too far for the Parliamentary Party? Frankly, no one knows. Bear in mind that a huge proportion (more than 50% I think) of the new Parliamentary Party are new MPs and no one knows what their attitude will be.


Frugal Dougal said...

If the result of PR is that the next election sees an intake of BNP MPs, it's not impossible that, just as David Steele is still known as the Father of Abortion in Britain, Cameron and Clegg could enter the history books as the men who made it possible for the first fascist MPs since Mosley to enter Parliament.

Chris Underwood said...

sounds like a threat to the lib dems to me

Alistair said...

Any move from FPTP should be an absolute deal breaker for any true Conservative. For it to be anywhere near the table is very worrying indeed.

Michael Heaver said...

AV - NOOOOOOO thank you, would rather stick with FPTP.
AV+ - yes please.

A fine line.

Simon said...

Direct PR may end up with a BNP member, but AV would not.

AV+ might end up with a BNP member, but only if they polled more than 5% - which is unlikely.

And AV+ (as recommended by the Jenkins Commission) seems to be being proposed.

Ann said...

Iain, I have been a member for over 20 years, I have been a branch chairman and a constituency vice Chairman. I still have blisters from all the leafletting I did during the election. My husband and I have also made substantial donations to the party.
If Cameron proposes any change to the voting system without a referendum. We will resign our memberships not deliver a single leaflet and the party will never get another penny out of us.
It will all go to UKIP.

And I doubt we will be the only members taking that position.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the PCP but the rank and file party members certainly won't wear it. Yes,agree to a free vote on a referendum but don't stitch together a behind-closed-doors deal for the next election.If DC dumped FPTP without wider consultation he'll have buried his career for the sake of a deal with a weakened LibDems for what...6 months in power?

David Boothroyd said...

The proportion of the Parliamentary Conservative Party who are new MPs is 48% (not counting retread Jonathan Evans as a new MP) - 147 out of 306 or 307 if Anne McIntosh holds Thirsk and Malton. So just under half.

I would have thought AV+ would be the least unacceptable system of PR for the Conservatives, but if I were in the Conservative negotiating team I would be arguing that it be agreed to put it to a referendum in May 2011.

p smith said...

Dave is not going to offer Clegg anything of substance on PR for the simple reason that he doesn't have to. Clegg's position is desperately weak. Having performed so abysmally on Thursday he cannot make the argument to the public that PR should go before economic stability and he cannot prop up Brown. He therefore has no option but to back the Tories albeit on a confidence and supply basis.

The winner here will be the Tories (because they will get into number 10 and start to set the agenda) and Labour who can finally dispose of Brown, get a new leader in place and fight from a base of almost 260 seats, just one election away from regaining power.

The Libdems, perversely, are the big losers. They will achieve none of their key goals in partnership with the Tories. A "low carbon" economy? Meaningless drivel. A "fairer tax system"? Intangible and non specific. In 6 months time, their poll ratings will be in the drain and they will have ceded any prospect of holding their seats against Labour in the cities and towns. Moreover, Libdem voters in the shires will no longer see any point in backing them and they will be squeezed back into the 20 seat rump that they were pre 1997.

It is a great irony but Libdem participation in government will result in a return to the two party system.

rosie said...

So everyones vote should count but not those who vote BNP. Says who? Ever heard the word 'democracy'.
We need straight out PR as in the Euro elections so all votes count and the system cannot be fiddled to allow voting against a candidate on your ballot paper by manipulating the system.
One person, one vote - all counting thanks.
We also need an English Parliament and a complete checking of all parliamentary rolls, not to mention the end of postal voting without due reason.

Peter said...

AV+ is actually be better than FPTP and would certainly have been more representative of peoples votes cast in this election.
It also has a major benefit in that it makes every vote count except fringe party votes.
Additionally it means we keep our constituency MP'S

ChristalPalace said...

The BNP sicken me as much as they do the rest of you, but I don't agree that we should avoid a certain system because I might yield one or two MPs who we despise. Even if they are there, the other parties will take no notice to them anyway.

And do you think minor parties can't possibly win a seat under FPTP? Ask Caroline Lucas. Not comparing her to the BNP in any way other than them both being minor parties who have always struggled to win a seat in the past.

Curmudgeon said...

Surely Caroline Lucas is our first (eco-)fascist MP?

scott Wright said...

Alistair, AV is not much of a concession, really, as I understand it. It's more akin to FPTP. You don't have to set the barrier at 5% for AV+, but obviously the higher it goes the less literally proportional it gets.

haydoni said...

a. little to no chance of BNP getting a seat in either system.

b. your argument (with regards to BNP getting seats under PR) seems to be that people with a view different from your own ought not to be represented... that's fascist.

-- If that many people voted for them they deserve a seat...

Martin said...

I don't get this. Iain please ask Lib Dems what the point is of their existence if they only ever want to do a deal with Labour (as many of them have stated)

Vote Lib Dem, get Labour is that the Lib Dem motto?

Also, if the Lib Dems only ever do a deal with Labour why should Labour offer the Lib Dems anything? Where else have the Lib Dems got to go politically?

Demontrout said...

@frugal dougal & simon

You can't set out to create an electoral system that deliberately aims to block certain undesirables if they are what the people want (regardless of how idiotic they or their voters are). Surely, that's the most undemocratic system of all!

I think if people felt their vote really counted, they'd be a lot more careful about how they used it. Plus, if the BNP goons did get a couple of seats, they'd lose them very quickly as people discover what useless thugs they all are.

Besides, as the Hope Not Hate campaign and Nick Griffin's appearance on QT proved, it's by challenging these fascists, not brushing them under the carpet, that damages their support.

Jonathan Hunt said...

AV+ is favoured by this tory. At the most we might see one BNP MP. I can live with that - they would have zero influence.

Andrew said...

what's absolutely amazing is that Clegg has spent the period since the first debate strategizing this stuff and 3 days after the election, we still don't know who's forming the next government.

Doesn't auger well for working with the Lib-Dems.

Anonymous said...

According to The Guardian today, Conservatives would have gained a greater margin over Labour under STV than under AV. The biggest difference is that LibDems do very much better under STV than FPTP or AV.

Guradian article

Not that I'm keen on changing the system.

P Bryant said...

erm, Lib Dems decimated, so just 5 or 6 more gone then...

No intimation that the PR issue is something the Tories have to actively promote, or just allow to be promoted. Big difference.

Cantstandcant said...

Iain, as a non-Conservative, your blogs in the last 24 hours have been admirable and, to use the cliched phrase, very much in the national interest. Likewise the behaviour of the two negotiating teams.

The atmosphere unfortunately is sullied by the more hysterical elements of the media and a few on the antediluvian Tory right (who don't appear to have taken in the fact that no party has a majority), those who clearly would prefer to have months of uncertainty and another election, in preference to sorting out the economic crisis and, I am afraid, those who are so paranoid on fair voting that they come out with total nonsense.

Step forward Frugal Dougal. "An intake of BNP MPs" - er, what possible evidence is there for absurd scare speculation like that? Just says after the BNP were vaporised pretty well everywhere and when their leader couldn't even come second in Barking, you are coming out with crazed comments that really help no-one.

I have done a quick bit of back of the envelope calculation of an STV multi member constituency that covered the 4 seats in boroughs of Newham and Barking and Dagenham, so supposedly including the hotbeds of BNP support.

With a total vote of around 187,000 and a 'quota' for a four seat constituency of about 37,000, my best guess is that Labour would elect 3 MPs and the Conservatives 1. LDs would not win any but would be ahead of BNP. Currently Labour have all 4 seats, so there's a Conservative gain!

All this supposes of course that loads of Labour, Tory and LD voters didn't put the BNP as their second choice - but, if they did, frankly that would be a failure of the other parties and, regrettably, a democratic choice by voters.

Anonymous said...

Any Tories still insisting on FPTP should look at the polling from YouGov yesterday - 63% in favour of a change, and only 13% in favour of keeping FPTP.

It was a fine policy for an overall majority, but we didn't get one, and FPTP is now doing an impression of a Norwegian Blue.

Ben said...

@Alistair - just like rotten boroughs, open ballots and restricted suffrage? in the past the Tories have sensed change and grabbed control of it (1867). will they this time?

Anonymous said...

Surely if the Tories do go for AV or AV+ it would be in their interest to give the SNP and Plaid Cymru what they want...independence; casting Labour votes into the dustbin of history. That would then give the majority of England what they apparently want; which looking at the political map, is blue.

wild said...

It is becoming increasingly clear that when Liberal Democrats such as Vince Cable and Shirley Williams talk about their desire for a "new politics" what they mean is a new "anti-politics" in which (via a permanent alliance with the Labour Party) there would be a one party State of the Left.

What an unlovely combination of sanctimony, hypocrisy, and cynicism. No wonder both the Conservatives and Old Labour view them with contempt.

Boo said...

Hmm the new MPs opinions of AV/AV+ are unknown?

Well considering that most new MPs are in contested seats, I would imagine they would be firmly against AV. Self preservation being a fairly strong motivator.

Only those in safe seats would enjoy the luxuary of likeing AV

Website said...

Surely what Clegg is demonstrating is that the Tory nightmare of being in perpetual opposition under PR is completely wrong.

I also find it rather amusing that the media constantly refer to Lib Dem activists being left of centre. My experience, over many years, is that the majority are actually quite a conservative bunch.

In reality, the old political and ideological templates are redundant. Thatcher killed Socialism, and post-Blair the 3 main parties mix and match policies from across the political spectrum already. Nothing will restore the electorates faith in the political class as quickly and as comprehensively as a successful coalition, that steers the nation through very difficult economic waters, and endures long enough to restore economic and social stability. It seems to me, that this alone is the most compelling argument for taking the huge leap of faith that would be required of both the participating parties.

Anonymous said...

Libdems are capable of switching horses and those I know in my borough are compleltely unscrupulous. Clegg snd co meeting Brown and Co are pure selfish acts. If he had 306 MPs rather than 57, Clegg and Libdems ill argue against PR. If they go with Brown, Libdems are finished and the referendum will be lost before it begins.
Liberals after WWII had loony policies and could not large numbers of MPs elected and after they became Libdems it is the same story. They have been unable to get double figure MPs and mostly because of their strange policies like 1p on income tax under Paddy Pantsdown and Amnesty for illegal immigrants under Clegg.
Seeing David Steel pontificating as though Libdems got 570 seats, I am reminded about this man supporting Callaghan kept him in power which lead to the Winter of Disconent. David Steel has been a fool ( " Go back to your constituency and prepare for govt"-idiot!) and party apparatchik.

Guppy said...

Which of these is constitutionally more proper in the event of no Cameron/Clegg deal?

- Cameron says he will form a minority government and dares the Palace advisers to summon him, or Brown undertakes a coup in that he advises the Queen not to allow Cameron to form a minority government but to first let him (also in a minority position) make an unrefusable offer to Clegg.

david kendrick said...

As long as PR needs to be confirmed by a referendum, DC can offer whatever he likes.

And please can we have a referendum on continued membership of the EU?

BOO would win the second, while the one on PR is quite unsellable.

D'Hont v AV+ v PR2 ? Even Clegg couldn't explain their merits/downsides to his mother or to his domestic staff. And nor could you or I.

So long as changing from FPTP to PR needs a referendum, stay chilled.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the problem with AV. It still maintains a direct link with the voter and a consistency MP. STV is a problem as chinless wonders get in on a list.

Phil said...

'Bear in mind that a huge proportion (more than 50% I think) of the new Parliamentary Party are new MPs and no one knows what their attitude will be.'

Don't worry Ian, the whips will soon tell them!

angry and despondent said...

More than anything else, this has shown the LibDems to be as narrowly self interested as all the other political parties. Clegg's speeches about his party being different to the "old parties" was just bovine excrement.

The TRUE voice of the LIbDems is the odious Simon Hughes, the poor man's Mandelson. He's shown the LibDems are a narrow minded single issue party who would put political self interest before the good of the country.

My feeling is that Cameron should now tell Clegg that the Tories gained 100 seats and Clegg LOST M.P.s in the election so there isn't a public tatste for P.R. and that there will be Nomore concessions.

I'm surprised Iain thinks that the LibDems can be trusted. Don't forget that this is the party who fight the dirtiest campaigns during elections and are treacherous in local government. In some ways they are more cynical and duplicitous than Labour. I thought, Iain, you were more of a realist.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, any deal with the Tories for the Lib Dems would be the death of the party anyway, so backing out might at least preserve the party to regroup.

Personally, I cannot see why the public would be so concerned about pulling out now if it is shown that the Lib Dems tried their best and the Tories were shown to be the ones not making the effort.

Acacia Avenue said...

Big problem with PR which the Lib Dems are rubbing our noses in - first the small party in the middle blackmails one party, then the other.

Bad PR for PR?

jamescbartlett said...

I said this on a Lib Dem blog earlier today. They're in a lose-lose-lose position. Side with the Tories and their core vote may well punish them at the next election. Back out of the deal and side with Labour and as you say, people will look at them twice come next election. And if they do nothing and sit on the sidelines with a Conservative minority government, they may well bear the brunt when we have another election within 12 months and we've had worsening economic results because of unstable government. And none of these choices will get them their version of electoral reform. What a nightmare of a position to be in, I feel sorry I voted for them now!

Hughes. said...

AV and AV+ both leave voters who want fiscal responsibility and value for money for the taxpayer with nowhere to cast a second preference vote, which basically means for the left it's a 1-man 2-votes system.

Interesting piece from Political Betting on PR-Squared, which is supposed to remove anti-tory second preference bias:

Paddy Briggs said...

(1) The current electoral sysetem is broken. Agreed?

(2) A new system is needed. Agreed?

(3) That system should ensure that every vote counts. Agreed?

(4) There is merit in keeping extremists out of parliamant (cf West Germany after the war). Agreed?

(5) MPs with consituency links - preferably electoral links- is desirable. Agreed?

(6) The people should approve of the new system. Agreed?

(7) All the above means that in future Britain will almost always be goverened by a coalition. Agreed?

neil craig said...

It depends on PR.

If the LDs are offered a referendum on PR & refuse on other terms they will be seen as an adjunct of Labour & when the next election comes will lose half their votes.

However if the Tories do not offer a referendum on PR or refuse a counter offer from the LDs containing it (ie them "backing out") then they will be seen as the intransigent, anti-democratic ones putting party before country & they will be the ones losing votes at the next election.

AV is not really a proportional system, as Conservatives were keen to point out when Brown offered a referendum on it. AV+ is.

It should also be remembered that the LDs do have an option - Labour will grab them with open arms; together they have more votes than the Conservatives; most of the other parties consider themselves "left" & all of them support PR & so would not immediately bring down such a government.

Suppose the Cons refuse PR & thereby refuse power; the Lab/Lib government immediately brings in PR & a year later falls & a new election is called. The Conservatives, having refused us a referendum, would not reach 36% of the vote & thus seats & the Libs would have neither need nor wish to work with them for another generation.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would be preferable for the Conservatives to let the Lib-Lab-Plaid-SNP-SDLP-Green-Monster Raving Loony coaltion to take power, collapse with the markets in two/three months. Have another election, with a moral high-grounded Tory Party victorious. Scotland would then break-away, and good ridence. they can take their bankrupt banks and glut of Labour MPs with them!

Evensong said...

Fabulous. The economy of this country is in tatters. PR is not important compared to somehow lifting the UK from the depths to which it has plunged. People's health, wealth, education and security are far, far more important than how we vote, and this only serves to show the selfish, dogmatic interests of the LibDems that they continue to push this agenda that helped see them lose 5 seats last week.

Voting reform in this country should be concentrating on eradicating fraud, delivering better equality in the constituency boundaries and providing alternative means for people to choose who they wish to represent them but are unable to reach a polling station. Until these are addressed the argument for FPTP, PR, AV etc is largely irrelevant as they will be undermined by the creaking, fault-riddled foundations they sit upon.

Seafang said...

These negotiations are a great advert for PR.


skynine said...

People should not think that PR will result in the same political parties but in a different ratio.

It would be easy to envisage that the Liberals and the Social Democrats could split up and the Labour party could split into a Trade Union backed party and a successor to Nulabour.

Expect a strong presence for an English nationalist party similar to the SNP.

People should be careful what they wish for.

Dingdongalistic said...

Tory MPs might oppose AV for pragmatic reasons -- they shouldn't do out of principle, because it's basically an improved version of FPTP, keeping all the advantages of the single-member system whilst making the public better represented in constituencies. Given the Tories' hype about one or two open primaries, they should back this, as it's cheaper whilst achieving more choice.

However, many Tory MPs will probably worry about the possibility of a "combined left" that AV might create making life much more difficult at elections. At present, the Lib Dem vote can be counted on to take up a lot of disaffected Labour, but if people voted Lib Dem and 2nd preference Labour, it could make quite a bit of difference.

On the other hand, Tory MPs should ideologically oppose AV+, which has more than a whiff of PR about it, but pragmatically might like it more as an option, as it would effectively counter the possibility of such an effect on the Constituency level through the presence of top-up MPs elected on a regional level, which would see more Tory MPs elected in, say, Scotland.

Ray said...

As we speak Brown has offered to resign to aid the development of taslks between them and the lib dems. The BBC can barely conceal its glee.

Theo Spark said...

As Brown has just resigned as leader of the Liebour Party could Clegg about face and jump into bed with Liebour

SandraFacts said...

Iain foot in mouth time.

"I now find it almost inconceivable that the LibDems can now either turn down the deal with the Tories or switch horses to Labour."

Bill Quango MP said...

Seems Mr Brown wants one more chance to take the country down with him...

Anonymous said...

If the deal between the Lib Dems and the Tories break down after this, then the manure will hit the fan in a rather messy way, no matter who is in charge of Labour.

As Pa Royle might say, "Strong and stable government, my a***!"

yann said...

So the Liberals now have a problem. Formal negotiations are to commence with Labour, with Brown in place. Proping up a losing party and a man never elected.

If it leads to major economic problems, then we may be seeing the beginning of the end for the Liberals.

J said...

Brown resigned about 30 minutes before he was pushed out by the cabinet.
But he's going on HIS terms in September not THEIRS straight away.
He reminds me of one of those bookkeepers who never goes on holiday lest his fraud is discovered in his absence.
Portsmouth FC will be as nothing when Brown's successors find all the invoices that "The Great Financier" has stuffed into his bottom drawer

Allan said...

Iain could you please point this fact out?

I was watching the BBC1 News spacial and Lord Adonis said that the Conservative party did not win the election and together the Labour party and Lib/Dems won 15 million votes to the Tories 10 million.

Now in the 2005 election Labour won 9,562,122 votes (35.3%) and in 2010 David Cameron won 10,683,787 (36.1%) so I find it totally ironic for Labour to say no party won the election yet the Tories won more votes than Tony Blair did in 2005 and yet Labour were happy to govern with 65% of the country not voting foe them.

Allan Christie, SNP voter.

Andrew Duncan said...

Conservatives seem to have not conceded enough. Gordon is now going - Lib-Lab coalition on the way. PR too. Sad times for Conservative hopes

Anonymous said...

Brown resigns and Clegg is going to talk to Labour... but how can he negotiate when he does not know who the party leader will be. ??

Clegg and the LDs are about to shoor themselves in the foot. The numbers are not there for a 'stable' long lasting coalition.

Now we have 6 months of manouvering in the labour party rather than putting the country first.

GSG said...

It would seem odd to me for the conservatives to refuse a coalition to avoid PR only to have it imposed by a Lib/Lab alternative. When reform becomes inevitable - and with Brown resigning a Lib/Lab coalition must have more momentum - is it not best that we do it our way?

wild said...

Absolutely pathetic Nick Robinson just now. There was utterly predictable event of Brown standing down (as the Liberal Democrats required) in order that an attempt may be made to establish a Lib-Lab coalition. Yawn. The Lib-Lab BBC get excited. Yawn. All three of the politicians the BBC asked for their opinion were LiB-Lab supporters. Yawn. What was pathetic was that in the name of balance (there were no Conservatives present in the discussion to counter the lame nonsense that was being peddled) Nick Robinson felt he had to point out that the problem with a Lib-Lab coalition (other than the small problem of the lack of a majority of course) is that (wait for it) will be opposed by the Tory press!!!

I nearly ripped the television off the wall and threw it into the garden.

I will never pay my BBC licence fee again.

Gallimaufry said...

Apologies for the language but aren't the Libdems just acting like a bunch of prick teasers?

Gerry57 said...

Double unelected Brown is going to remain Prime minister till the AUTUMN. This is in order for the left to stitch up a deal and then give us another unelected Prime minister. It's time to take to the streets !

Tony Butcher said...

Lib Dems Must Be Wary of Leaping into Labours Bed:

Englishman said...

The Undemocratic Non-English Peoples Soviet Republic of McBritain.

Once known as England.

wildgoose said...

I would rather "Approval Voting" - just mark an X against every candidate of whom you approve. Who ever gets the most, wins.

Simple, fair, easy to understand, and no need to attempt to rank the candidates - which means no need to pander to the extremist vote simply because they are the first to be eliminated in Alternative Vote.

Anonymous said...

AV+ is what we have in Wales, which involves 2 thirds of the seats being elected by FTTP and one third of the seats being awarded to make the result as PR as possible. The BBC (or was it Sky? Hard to tell these days) described the "cons" of AV + as "complicated", which I am sure it is -for voters with a two-digit IQ.

Voting systems aside, any talk of forming a Lib-Lab coalition is mathematically unrealistic. There has been much talk of how governments of other countries are used to forming coalitions, but nobody in their right mind forms a coalition that doesn't command a majority!

Cynic said...

Whoops. Seems like you were wrong Iain - along with the rest of us.

What is apparent is that the Lib Dems aren't capable of adopting coherent policy positions in power. They are a rag bag of competing interest groups. They now seem intent on a deal with Labour and the Developers' Unionist Party from NI.

My that will sit well. Peter Mandleson in a Cabinet that depends on support from a right wing fundamentalist Christians who believe that the earth was created in October 4004BC and that homosexuality is abominable (and that wasn't poor mad Iris - another member reconfirmed the view a few weeks ago during the election campaign)

The DUP price for this is more money for Northern Ireland - a simple bribe. It's incredibly short sighted and damaging to the Union as English voters will now find their clear electoral will - to eject Labour - subverted by the Lib Dems wanting the electoral system rigged and the Irish demanding cash.

And note that Gordon's promise is to go when he has overseen the changes ie not for months.

Do we still have a system that is recognisably democratic?

wild said...

I have not seen the BBC this excited since New Labour came to power!


Reaction to the election. Muted.

Reaction to possibility of Conservative-Liberal Alliance. Muted.

Reaction to there being a chance of keeping the Labour Party in power. They were practically dancing in the studio!!! The BBC is the broadcasting arm of the Labour Party.

I am feeling real anger now against the BBC. As for a Lib-Lab pact. Bring it on. The public will see it for what it is - unless of course the Leftist elite put in place a voting system that prevents the voter from ever removing them from power again. In which case the free society - an idea which this country did not a little to create - will have just died. Indeed Britain - that enemy of "progressives" aroubd the world will be now more.

Simon Gardner said...

Ha-ha Adam Boulton loses it with Alastair Campbell

Twig said...

The guys at the BBC have cheered up a bit I see - why's that then?

golden_balls said...

Sky News seems to be taking tonight rather badly.

I've never seen such glum looking presenters. Boulton was a picture to behold even if nothing comes of this its made my day. Thankfully i have it recorded on sky.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the electorate are an 'unforgiving beast'. If Clegg does choose to sell his (largely) centre-left activists and voters down the river by entering in to coalition with the Tories while failing to secure a concrete commitment on AV or AV+, he will, in effect, have negotiated the Libdems out of existence for a few junior ministerial posts. I think they call this 'squeaky bum time'.

Anonymous said...

@neil craig. Sounds like delusion. The PR referendum bill
has to pass through parliament. In Lib-Lab coalition., it needs a majority with 306 Tories , it needs only 20 dissenting Labour to vote this bill down. Even if the bill goes through the Tories can point out unelected Labour PM and Libdemss shenanighans and voters can see this referendum as the losers charter

Evensong said...

(1) The current electoral sysetem is broken. Agreed?
Nope. The system - FPTP, you can give it a name Paddy - is not brilliant but it isn't broken either.

The process of how we vote however is massively overdue an overhaul. It is thoroughly obsolete, is inflexible, unbalanced, untrustworthy and open to fraud.

(2) A new system is needed. Agreed?
Nope. As mentioned above, the process needs to be sorted. Until then, the system will always be open to quite valid criticism.

(3) That system should ensure that every vote counts. Agreed?
This is disingenuous question. Every vote in any system counts. This idea that PR makes every vote counts is plain wrong as it cannot satisfy every voter - some will lose out.

(4) There is merit in keeping extremists out of parliamant (cf West Germany after the war). Agreed?
Opportunistic and shameful tripe.

Let's look at the HoC and who is in there. How many extremists are in Parliament now? How many BNP, communist, Black or White Supremacist, anti-Jewish or other fascist/nationalist parties have a seat?

The current system does not encourage extremists. The inept conduct of politicians in the last Government encouraged extremists such as BNP to get a foothold. Changing the system will not stop extremism, confronting so-called sensitive issues with honesty will. Kindly stop peddling this utter bilge that PR stops extremism.

I'll just add something here. You have suggested we should have a new electoral system that actually prevents political parties gaining a say because you consider them 'extremist'. Stop and think for a second about just how undemocratic and disgusting your point really is.

(5) MPs with consituency links - preferably electoral links- is desirable. Agreed?
In other words, outlaw the nonsensical abilities of the likes of Labour's NEC to ride roughshod over local party nominations. Nice in therory, in practice not necessarily a good idea as minorities will be in danger of not being represented. Which reminds me - did you reply to my question about how many LibDem candidates were from ethnic minorities for the election last week?

(6) The people should approve of the new system. Agreed?
Sort out the process and the system will become fairer. The system is only getting oxygen now because of a hung Parliament - which is downright disgraceful when considering the far greater problems this country faces. Any LibDems actively putting electoral reform ahead of the economy, our health, education and security should hang their heads in shame.

(7) All the above means that in future Britain will almost always be goverened by a coalition. Agreed?
Nope. Even your powers of foresight can't predict such a sweeping generalisation, but also the idea that coalitions are such a great thing that we don't have, when in practice they have not always been the case.

neil craig said...

Norman you are correct that 20 Labour MPs refusing to support PR would prevent it passing. The LDs must make very sure that Labour would make it a confidence measure & deselect any MP who voted against. Yhe subsequent election would then be fought on the issue of PR. Who knows - perhaps the people really do want FPTP & would vote the Conservatives in?

But I think the Conservatives should bite the bullet & accept our right to a referendum.