I know, I know! AV lost. Decisively.
So why am I still banging on about electoral reform?
Well partly because I can't help myself! It is one of my pet causes and I still think that eventually circumstances will arise in which FPTP becomes indefensible. I appreciate this is likely to be a fair way into the future but it is worth considering how it could come about.
Which actually brings me to the point of this post. One thing that is abundantly clear following the AV failure is that we will only be able to get a majority to back change if there is perceived to be a real need for it. That is one of the main reasons why AV struggled to get traction and opponents were able to argue there was no need to change.
The more I have reflected, the more I am convinced that the only way we are eventually going to be able to convince the electorate that change is needed is if there is an unequivocal and unanswerable failure of FPTP. The most likely scenario I can see leading to that is a situation where FPTP chooses the wrong winner.
With the current boundaries and 650 MPs this is actually quite likely to happen within the next two or three general elections. It would take Labour to get within a couple of percentage points of the Conservatives, say 34% Labour and 36% Conservative. Under this sort of result Labour would almost certainly end up the largest party and may even end up with a majority of MPs. Were this to happen, the time would then be ripe for a huge push to change the electoral system to a more proportional one. Defenders of FPTP would be on the back foot trying to argue for a system that had just picked the wrong winner and would be rapidly losing credibility with the public.
But if the boundary changes and MP reduction goes through then suddenly the above scenario becomes a lot less likely. We would of course still have the broken FPTP system but with things nudged a bit more back towards the Conservatives as a result of the changes.
Which means that when the time comes for MPs to vote on these changes we could find an interesting coalition against them forming. It could consist of Labour MPs who are against the changes as a party, numerous Conservatives who fear losing their seats and other MPs who want to ultimately see a proportional system for Westminster. That could well be enough to see the changes fail to get through the Commons.
I usually try and argue for electoral reform from a position of principle but having been thrashed in the AV referendum I am starting to think that reformers need to employ other tactics to get their message through. Trying to ensure that the broken FPTP system is more easily able to be exposed for what it is could be the start of such an approach.