Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Liberal Democrats would be the real losers under PR

We all understand why the Liberal Democrats are consistently the greatest proponents of introducing an element of proportional representation to elections to the House of Commons, and it is perfectly understandable that they should wish for it, since, as Charles Kennedy proclaimed last week, we are now in an era of three-party politics.

Regardless of the arguments for and against proportional representation, on reflection it is rather odd that the Liberal Democrats believe in the system for Westminster elections.

Because we elect Members of Parliament, who then indirectly form a government, rather than having our votes used directly to elect a governing party, all sorts of quirks pop up. Some of us live in constituencies which are solidly Labour or Conservative. Some of us live in marginals which might go either way, or even to the Liberals themselves. Therefore my argument is that because we elect representatives rather than governments, we do not treat our vote in the same way as we otherwise would.

I must confess to having no statistics on which to back up my argument, but the overwhelming feeling throughout the country is that few people want a Liberal Democrat government led by Charles Kennedy. Perhaps, as in a system of proportional representation, if a ballot was used to elect a government, not just a representative, then we would all be more 'mature' (without wishing to sound too arrogant) in whom we support. The Liberal Democrats undeniably recieve the lion share of their support from protest votes at the Tories and Labour, as well as in marginal seats where the Liberals are close challengers to the major two.

Perhaps in a system of proportional representation, we would not protest, nor feign support for a Liberal to kick out a sitting Tory or Labour MP. It is one theory and it may be wrong. But I do worry that as the debate on PR moves up a gear after last week's terrible, yet equally successful performance by the Labour Party, we may forget that it will not be the Conservatives and Labour who are the winners because they'll be too busy trying to forge weak and ineffective coalitions. Ironically, it won't be the Liberal Democrats either because the mainstream voters will not take them seriously, and the protestors will just treat them like all the rest. The real winners from PR will be the cranks and the extremists, because people will no longer protest at the mainstream two by voting Lib Dem, but they will protest at the mainstream three by voting UKIP, Veritas, Green or even BNP.

Without intending to sound too melodramatic, this is largely how Nazi Germany started.

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