My growing contempt for Proportional Representation
In-case this is the first time you are visiting my blog, welcome. I tend to cover Welsh politics, Brexit and the Radical Right, but occasionally feel compellled to discuss numerous topics.
Proportional Representation is an issue I’ve struggled with more than most in coming to a conclusion on. I understand and admire the democratic arguments made in its favour, which have led me to supporting a change in our voting system at various points. I live in a very safe Labour seat, where UKIP came a distant 3rd at the 2015 General Election, despite the party being at peak success.
It would obviously benefit me to support a change, perhaps I’d feel as enthusiastic about elections as I felt during the EU referendum if we did have a system of full PR. But then I began to seriously consider the implications of it, namely on the constituency system and on the very nature of the relationship between citizens and Parliament.
I can’t remember the author, perhaps someone who reads will, who spoke about First Past The Post being a system designed for electing Governments and Proportional Representation being designed for electing Parliaments. This has always stuck in my mind, because we can see the truth in this statement on the continent.
German citizens had to sit and wait while the parliament they elected stitches together a deal that keeps Angela Merkel in power. In Italy, no party has a majority, so the citizens wait until the parties stitch together a deal. In the United Kingdom, we seldom have such issues.
Admittedly, it’s not the easiest argument to make while our system has just produced a minority Conservative government supported by the DUP, but history shows recent times to be particularly rare, and I would argue that they are more to do with the incompetent set-up and operation of the two main political parties, where extremely tightly controlled selection processes have produced people who don’t share the views of most people and as such aren’t particularly well regarded by anyone.
And what of the constituency link? Full PR would require its destruction. They’re simply incompatible. The constituency link is probably one of the best parts of our current system, and to be fair to MPs they do respond and there is at least a sense that you could get your MP to redress grievance.
Given the choice I think I’d rather work to fix the current system than opt for the implementation of a new one altogether. But to be fair, I remain fond of the system we have in Wales, where a handful of seats are selected through regional PR. Perhaps there’s a compromise to come, but I don’t feel we’re quite there yet.