Normally, this would be great, right? I just link and get on to writing something substantial. OK, I'll link. Here and here. There, I've done it. I've linked to Neil Harding without taking the piss.
OK, the problems with his analysis.
- He doesn't define what sort of system he favours Some electoral systems are better than others; one of the big problems with the reformist movement is that they use 'PR' as a catch all, and as there are some awful examples of countries using some form of Proportional Representation (one thinks of Italy pre-reforms and Israel to date as examples of bad list system PR) that the opposed brigade can use as a stick to beat. You need to define what you are in favour of, not define what you are against. I personally favour STV (the Single Transferable Vote).
- It's very 'class' based and partizan Neil is, avowedly, a Labour member. In addition, he's vehemently anti-Tory, in a way that can, at times, cloud his judgement. However, the class element of his analysis are partially valid, however they are dependent (as all class based analyses are) on a two-way model of understanding voters, when we've already established that the 4-way model is now more important. I suspect he's right though to highlight that a more inclusive electoral system also leads to a more inclusive society; I also agree with him about the misplaced fear of BNP support; they're winning elections under FPTP, that is a real worry, however I doubt they'd ever win 50+% of the vote needed to control under a decent system.
- FPTP leads to parties elected with minority support that the majority specifically voted against (Poll tax and ID cards spring to mind)
- FPTP encourages protests votes, such as for the BNP, whereas under STV all votes count
- FPTP encourages parties to fight just over the centre grouns, leading to disillusioned core voters, STV allows parties to be distinctive and allows for (indeed encourages) internal party debate
- FPTP encourages gerrymandering and where the boundary is is incredibly important
- FPTP is only more stable when you have two parties; Canada has had as many coalition governments as it has had one-party rule in the last few years, and having just had one election, they're already expecting to have another; remember 1974?
- FPTP advocates say you know what you're voting for; it gives a clear choice, yet manifesto commitments can be dropped easily; his example is the promise of a referendum on electoral reform.
- STV gives more choice to local people, FPTP and List systems are slaved to party heirarchies equally
- Reform would lead to a more representative parliament through electoral choice; noneed for all-women or all-EM shortlists
Help me everyone, I agree with Neil!
Neil; are you a member of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform? If not, join, I've read some of their publications, they're good. If you are, can you ask them to do something about the godawful website?