Following yesterday's poll which suggested the Conservatives might only have a 6% lead over Labour, there is a lot of talk about hung parliaments.
John Redwood has blogged about this today. He starts his post with some very sensible comments about this showing that the Conservatives cannot take victory for granted and emphasising the size of the task that faces them.
However towards the end of his piece he demonstrates the sort of arrogance that I sometimes see from members of the parties (Conservatives and Labour) that benefit hugely from our rotten First Past the Post system. He had already mentioned that UKIP and the Greens were on 3% each in the poll. He then says:
What these polls also show is that UKIP and the Greens are unlikely to win any seats. Their prospective voters can back their chosen cause, or they can vote for either Labour or the Conservatives to help choose the government. If they do the former they will have to accept whatever others decide to do.
Now I like reading John Redwood's blog. He is a very thoughtful and thought provoking commentator. I don't always agree with what he says of course but he is very capable of making compelling arguments and is very well informed on numerous issues including the economy. These comments I have quoted from him however are arrogant and beneath him. There is no attempt to address the underlying unfairness that the fact that a party may get 3% of the vote and 0% of the seats, just an attempt to get these supporters to vote for one of the two main parties. That approach is completely disenfranchising and the worst sort of "vote for the least worst option of the two main parties rather than who you actually agree with" tactics.
In the European elections a few months ago, UKIP got 16.5% of the votes and came second both in terms of vote share and number of seats. This is the sort of thing that happens when there is a system that allows a fairer share of seats allocated for the votes. One of the main reason that many of the voters who vote for UKIP in the European elections do not at national elections is because they know they cannot win! The First Past the Post system has such a high barrier to entry that even a party which has demonstrated very strong breadth and depth of support at national level, coming second in a national election cannot get a single seat in a Westminster election. And John Redwood thinks that all this tells us is that people should vote for either Labour or the Conservatives. Not that our electoral system is utterly broken.
If people want to vote for UKIP or the Greens at the next election they should damn well vote for them and ignore the overtures of people like Mr Redwood.