Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Janice Small is fighting a losing internal battle on electoral reform

Janice Small of Conservative Action on Electoral Reform (and also now Conservative PPC for Batley & Spen) wrote a piece on Comment is Free recently where she discusses the merits or otherwise of the Alternative Vote system that Gordon Brown is now trying to push through for Westminster. She rightly identifies that AV is not proportional and can actually be worse than first past the post.

However her post seems a bit muddled in places. She criticises Brown for his latest move, dismissing it as cynical political positioning (and urges the Lib Dems not to fall for it). She does also identify Single Transferable Vote as the best way forward (citing Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan as supporters of it) and urging her own party not to be afraid of PR pointing out how well they have done out if it in Scotland and Wales. She then also advocates open primaries for all new and sitting MPs in order to eliminate safe seats. But STV would largely do this job anyway and would be part of the actual election rather than something tacked on beforehand. She also reiterates Cameron's mantra of reducing the number of MPs by 10% and resize the current constituencies but she skips Cameron's real reason for wanting to do this which is in order to tip the balance of the existing electoral system back towards the Tories.

But the part that took my breath away was this:

If we are to have electoral reform, then the various voting methods should be put to the public and debated on their individual merits, not shoe-horned in by a government in its last days of power.

I couldn't agree more Janice. I think that is exactly what is needed. However whenever David Cameron opens his mouth on this issue it is to pour scorn on the idea that the First Past the Post System needs to be changed and to muster any argument he can find (often deliberately obfuscating the issues and misleading as I pointed out here) to shoot down any alternative system. And the vast majority of Conservative MPs and activists agree with him.

I am willing to bet a sizeable amount of money to Janice, or anyone else that if David Cameron becomes Prime Minister he will never open up this debate to the public and have a referendum on changing to a proportional electoral system for the House of Commons.

There is however a party who would do precisely that. I wonder if Janice, as she clearly feels so strongly about this issue has considered that she may be in the wrong one....


SEO 被リンク said...

It is dangerous for a politician to open her post to the publics.

Hugh said...

She seems to be a more moderate Tory, but if she wins in Tory target seat 143 giving Cameron and Osborne a majority of c80 it will be difficult to expect much moderation.  Lib Dems can block this by voting Labour there, while voting Tory in Halifax to prevent another Labour Commons majority and focusing on trying to pick up Bradford East for themselves

Anonymous said...

Janice Small is no moderate Tory. If you look at the Conservative Action for Electoral Reform Website you'd be hard pressed to find any comments in support of reform at Westminster. Her biog shows her to be a supporter of the hard right of the party. How and why she rationalises this with support for reform is anyone's guess - although please have a go. She certainly has not taken issue with the hard line of her leadership which is "no reform: ever, amen" and supports a move to cut the commons which is widely held as an attempt to gerrymander away labour seats in cities, Scotland and Wales.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Your fellow bloggist Iain Dale says today "It doesn't surprise me that Brown would seek to fiddle the electoral battleground in this way.

What does surprise me is that the LibDems will apparently vote for a new electoral system which is even less proportional than the existing one.

He must be wrong, surely, about your mates in Parliament?