Thursday, 17 June 2010

Why proportional representation sticks in Labour's craw

I've just put the following question to Ed Miliband, Labour leader wannabe, courtesy of the Guardian's live webchat, scheduled for later on today:
I imagine you, in common with every leader in a democracy, will tell us you are in favour of 'fairness' - I can't imagine many leaders would openly state they are in favour of 'unfainess,' though what they define as fairness, of course, varies.

Why are you in favour of an unfair electoral system that: entrenches the two major parties at the expense of others; forces people to vote for parties they don't really support out of fear of getting something even more unpleasant if they don't; makes MPs less accountable to their constituents; leads to elections where the result is decided by a few swing seats and the rest, by and large, can be taken for granted (and thus ignored); and leads to decades long blocs of entrenched party power, where the minority who got lucky electorally dictate to the majority? (1)
The refusal of any of the candidates support PR disgusts me. It's seems pretty obvious they're still 'hurting' over the Lib Dem 'betrayal' - conveniently forgetting how they dumped the Jenkins report on electoral reform in 1998. After that, what right did Labour think they had to command the Lib Dems to coalesce with them?

A further reason candidates oppose committing to proportional representation is because they want the current government to put AV through, and then pronounce that elecotral reform is finished, thank you very much, and not leave any hostages to fortune. Which makes them spineless, opportunistic tossers.

Labour thinks the Lib Dem worm has turned and won't to countenance any move towards PR, because they don't want to give any more power to the Lib Dem 'traitors.' They still think they are still playing in a two party political system, when they are actually competing against the Tories and the Tory-Lite coalition, and the voters can vote for one (by voting Tory) or the other (by voting Lib Dem).

On top oof that, for some there persists the old tribal instinct that Labour has to protect its 'homeland' in the big cities, the North East of England, Wales and Scotland - the regions it has traditionally been strong in, and has traditionally taken for granted. Electoral reform might allow the odd blue Tory to sneak in amongst the red hordes, and the idea is enough to quash any reformist urges that the more naive members of the party might entertain from time to time.

Which, bluntly, means the Labour Party is happy to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of its own supporterd in 'Tory' heartlands, for fear of allowing a few blue stains to appear in the red swathes across in the north. My sense of fairness is stronger than my loyalty to the Labour party - and I mean fairness towards the disenfranchised blues and the disfranchised reds.

Blair failing to deliver on 'The Project' will come to be seen as the biggest failing of the last (hopefully not last ever) Labour government. But as long as the Labour hierarchy behave like dim bullies who think they can just squash the Lib Dems, they'll continue in opposition.

I suspect some of the younger candidates know this. I suspect, also, they've been told that if they say anything positive about PR, they're leadership campaign will be scuttled. The quality of a real leader, of course, might be to stand up to the Reids and Blunketts and tell them where to go.
1 - "Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband: webchat," unattributed article. Published 16th of June, 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/16/ed-miliband-webchat)

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