Tory Leader Comes Clean: No Proportional Representation For The British People
To the practised enthusiast, high-flown political rhetoric is practically a smorgasbord of revelation. For example, David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative & Unionist Party (er, thats in Great Britain, by the way)(and I love using the words ‘Great Britain’ since you will never hear them come from the lips of an American politician, not because I think GB is that great, certainly not in the context of the last 30 years) – right, yes, Cameron has written a piece for the Guardian as part of that paper’s running theme ‘A New Politics’, in which he summarily dismisses the notion of proportional representation.
For those of you who have been on Mars for the last decade or two, Proportional Representation (or PR) has been prowling on the margins of UK politics for quite a while, not least because first the old Liberal Party, then the successor Liberal Democrats have it as a central plank of their party policy. PR already is used for local government elections in Scotland, N.Ireland and Wales, with the devolved assemblies in each of them also elected under PR. There are several variants of proportional representation (just look it up in Wikipedia) but the fundamental principle behind it is that the proportion of the popular vote gained by a party in an election is reflected by the number seats they have in the representative chamber. IE, if Labour got, say, 35% of the vote at the next General Election, they would get 35% of the 647 seats in the House of Commons which, rounded down, is 226.
At the last GElection, 2005, Labour got 35.3% of the vote but got 356 MPs (55% of the seats); Conservatives got 32.3% which netted them 198 (30% of the seats); while the Liberal Democrats got 22.1% of the popular vote but ended up with 62, or 9.5% of the seats.
First-past-the-post is the system which produces these dire, unrepresentative results, which are plainly unfair and undemocratic. Yet David Cameron, trumpeting his yearning for change and giving power to the powerless, somehow finds that bringing in PR might be giving the British people too much power.
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