ballot box

LETTER: The time for proportional representation is now

LAST Saturday saw a special day of action for Proportional Representation (PR) voting reform.

For any post-Covid ‘build back better’ proposals to have any real meaning, surely they must include a fairer, more democratic voting system than our present ‘first past the post’.

Especially one where seats won by any party are roughly in proportion to the total votes cast for that party, also making every vote in every constituency really count towards the final national result: a system used nearly everywhere.

When PM Johnson’s Tory Government boasts in the Commons of their big 87-seat overall majority from the 2019 ‘get it done’ Brexit-led election, not only is Brexit’s Irish ‘protocol’ still not ‘done’ – possibly leading to a complete renegotiation – but Johnson’s big dictatorship stems from only a 43.6% Tory vote of the 67.3% who bothered. That is only 29% of those registered.

Bringing in the 25% of eligible adults not registered (estimate from latest pre-election online figures), then you have an incredulous 23% who actually voted Tory and 77% who didn’t.

In fact, to fully show this democratic obscenity of British voting, please consider my further calculations showing how much number of seats actually won departed so hopelessly from those which would have come from an allocation based on the overall national proportion of each party’s total vote:

  • Conservative 43.6% equals 283 not 365 seats;
  • Labour 32.2% equals 209 not 203;
  • Liberal Democrat 11.6% equals 75 not 11;
  • SNP 3.9% equals 25 not 48;
  • Green 2.7% equals 18 not 1;
  • Brexit 2.0% equals 13 not 0.

Surely this proves beyond reasonable doubt that this new ‘unmandated’ Tory government owes us all a constitutional review with electoral reform to PR at the heart of it (locally as well).

This should go hand in hand with compulsory registration and voting, a national People’s Convention, changing the unelected Lords and other idiosyncratic parliamentary ritual, plus questioning possible new roles for a written constitution and the monarchy.

All bearing in mind modern emergencies are best met by coalition, not adversarial polarisation.

In other words, a big urgent renewed effort for a root-and-branch updating of our present dilapidated, archaic, failed parliamentary democracy.

An effort made urgent by ‘post-Covid’, but also to meet the existential challenges of Climate Emergency’s coming enforced social and economic breakdown.

Alan Debenham


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