Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Polly's argument is counter-productive

I have just been reading Polly Toynbee's latest article in The Guardian where she is advocating electoral reform.

I am a passionate supporter of electoral reform. Incidentally when I made this comment to a Tory last week she said "Yes, of course - you're a Lib Dem.". I then explained to her that it was actually the other way round. One of the reasons I joined the Lib Dems in the first place is because of their support for electoral reform. I have been a passionate advocate of this for years and long before I joined the party.

Anyway, Polly's central thesis seems to be a ressurection of her "nose peg" theme from before the last election where she was arguing that Labour is the lesser of the two evils (compared to the Tories). She dismisses the Lib Dems because of the electoral system in this country. She then goes on to advocate electoral reform. However, the problem is that towards the end of the article she is arguing from a very weak position. It could easily be interpreted (or spun) that she is now desperately trying to keep Labour in (or the Tories out) at any cost. Advocating change of the electoral system in the dying days of a deeply unpopular government which would likely have the effect of keeping the Tories out looks extremely cynical. Indeed many of the comments on CiF take this view.

She does make some good suggestions such as advising readers to get involved with Make Votes Count and/or the Electoral Reform Society with which I wholeheartedly concur.

I want electoral reform for the House of Commons. However the argument has to be made on the unfairness of the existing system. It will never gain traction if it is seen to be being argued for on the grounds of narrow partisan advantage.

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