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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Parliament needs an effective opposition

I shed no tears for the imminent demise of both the Labour and Conservative parties. Long predicted, the time has come when their abandonment of actual members in favour of big donors and their becoming  brands rather than mass-membership movements means they are no longer sustainable in their current forms. UKIP remains critically important as guardians of Brexit - any resiling from the vote, and the next election will be won by an overwhelming majority of Brexit MPs. But right now, there's only one UKIP MP.

However, whilst all this is going on, there is no effective opposition to government in Parliament, no effective scrutiny and a much diminished rein on wayward ministers. PMs these days bribe their own parliamentary parties by handing out junior ministerial posts like Mr Cameron hands out MBEs - and those not yet appointed will be on their best behaviour with hopes for a future government job as junior Farmed Fish minister at DEFRA or some such. 

When we last had the option of changing our electoral process, I came out on balance for retaining FPTP for reasons that made good sense at the time - and taking the long view rather than reacting to short-term electoral injustice. If we had some form of PR now, I suspect UKIP and Corbyn-Left radicals would be elected in equal numbers, together with the existing 'soft' centre left and right parties, a handful of greens  and a much reduced number of Scot Nats. It would be I think the end of one-party government and the beginning of permanent coalition.  

I can't really object to moving to unstable governments, compromise policy and the vulnerability of ministers to Parliamentary approval because it means keeping government in check. A conservative government with no parliamentary opposition to keep it in check may threaten me less than a Labour alternative, but I still don't like it. And as I don't think either Labour or the Tories can heal their internal divisions without schism, I now support looking at PR again.


Sackerson said...

Hurrah! I argued for it at the time:

- But how do we get a second chance without looking like the equivalent of sourpuss Remainers?

Anonymous said...

Farage had it right (as usual)...

He came down on the side of AV with Nick Clogg and against the Cameron...

... But not because he agreed with the system, (he was more supportive of AV+), but because it signalled to the electorate that the current system was past its sell by date and change, any change was as Yeats and Sellar might have written...

'A good thing".

It notified the people that the government understood that electoral reform was necessary, even though AV was not the final answer.


Anonymous said...


Yes, I agree that more referendums is the right way to go...

The problem is that it is far too far away from where we are now, and making the leap from them being our representatives, to them being our operatives is very much against their own personal interests...

...It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.


Anonymous said...

"There's only one UKIP MP" and he's a warmonger, voted for the attacks on Libya and Syria, contrary to UKIP policy :(

Dadad said...

PR and AV is so old hat.

What we need is the Harrogate Agenda, but as turkeys don't vote for Christmas it is down to us to make it happen.

Only then will we have true democracy in this country.

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Concerning UK elections by AV versus by FPTP, you might be interested on what I wrote a year or so ago on the website of Charles Crawford. The link there to my much earlier posting a Samizdata should also be of interest.

That the AV Referendum went the other way is a great disappointment to me: but one has to live with these things.

Best regards

James Higham said...

Been a fan of PR for a long time, as it's cumbersome and parlt doesn't work as well. That's what we need - parlt not to interfere or get its act together, but for varying points of view to be put.

Anonymous said...

My objection to anything other than FPTP is that it encourages voting for parties rather than individuals.
I want to vote for one specific person to represent me in the Commons, and to forward the interests of this district, not for a political party.

I have not voted in the past two EU elections because you were expected to vote for a party.

Parties are perhaps unavoidable, but they are the bane of politics.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

Becoming a spectator (apart from the referendem) has its advantages. I find myself able to demolish both Left and Right for the damage they've done; not only to England and the English but many other ethnic groups, and nations. The future is apolitical in more ways than one. Learning to survive is infinitely more important than politics. There's a gang out there who want this century to end with no nations and just one government: one system "to rule them all."

You can see them at work when they come down hard on people who don't play the game - poor old Gaddafi didn't realise he'd signed his own death warrant when he put forward a plan for Africa to adopt the gold standard. Stuff like that and a little matter of who can and cannot run pipelines through their own country. Politics today is largely a spectator sport because no matter who you vote for the 'progressives' always get in. You have to know what they mean by it, and proceed from there.

War is coming.


Michael said...

Not sure Mugabe would agree with you, Steve.

Sad end to such a beautiful country.

John Brown said...

I thought AV was an excellent system as it combined PR with the ability to have a sole representative for the constituency.

It also means that voters can vote for the party they really want at their first preference and do not find later that an unrepresentative winner emerges through a split vote.

Anonymous said...

As I've oft said, we need a separation of the powers, the legislature should hold the executive to account and no political parties allowed, representatives loyal only to their constituents demands and finally an annual plebiscite on the yearly budget and on all big issues - put to a national referendum.

DeeDee99 said...

I voted against AV since it would simply have entrenched the power of Labour and Tories in England, with the occasional LibDem just managing to scrape over the 50% target.

The smaller parties, like UKIP, would have been eliminated in the early rounds and their vote would have accrued to their second choice - nearly always Conservative or Labour. I vowed to never make a second choice, since they were equally unacceptable to me.

I don't think tinkering around with our electoral system now is going to be sufficient. Our Constitution needs a complete overall. We need to move to a Federal UK; England needs its own Parliament and in the Federal Parliament, England should be represented by Regional MPs so the Celtic nations aren't automatically dominated by England. Voters represented by a Regional MP from Cornwall will have more in common with voters from Wales and parts of Scotland than one from Surrey or Warwickshire!

And the Lords needs a complete overhaul. The gormless Cameron has just demonstrated beyond any doubt that it cannot survive in its present form: it has no legitimacy whatsoever, let alone democratic legitimacy.

PR is used in the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies. When an English Parliament is created, the same system should be used to elect EMPs.

Cull the Badgers said...

No, Raedwald!

PR will lead to stagnation, more compromise, and more corruption in order to get a proposal through. There will be endless disputes over the legitimacy of voting outcomes, either GE results or parliamentary ones. We already have people saying the Brexit vote should be re-run,
such will become the norm.

Remain strong, don't weaken, stick with the present system.

Nick Drew said...

@ Been a fan of PR for a long time, as it's cumbersome and parlt doesn't work as well. That's what we need - parlt not to interfere or get its act together

but James, since nature abhors etc etc, don't you then get rule by an impervious bureaucracy - a Commission, in fact ?