Wednesday, 15 February 2017


I've just had a letter about PR from Joan Ryan. She writes
I appreciate there are concerns about the current First Past the Post System (FPTP), which is used to elect MPs, and that this was heightened by the results of the 2015 General Election.

There are, of course, strengths and weaknesses to all voting systems. FPTP does have a history of generally returning stable, single-party governments and of retaining the constituency link, both of which I think are important benefits to our electoral system.

I must state that I am not personally convinced of the case for STV, which is a form of PR, or of PR more generally for the House of Commons.

I do, however, think that a fully elected House of Lords is long overdue and a form of proportional representation should be considered there.
We agree about HoL reform and the need for a constituency link and it is beyond argument that all  voting systems have strengths and weaknesses. It's certainly arguable that FPTP was a defensible system when there were only two parties but that time has passed. The growth of support for the SNP, UKIP and the Greens shows increasing dissatisfaction with the main two parties. And this is not only a UK phenomenon - we see the growth of insurgents across Europe and the US.

The last decades have seen a decline in voting because, imo, voters saw less difference between the main parties and many (the so-called left behind people) felt alienated from the consensus. Many also saw that unless they lived in a marginal seat their votes seemed to make no difference. The recent referenda showed what can happen when people think their votes do matter!

Now I don't like referenda and I certainly don't like BREXIT - a wretched result from a deplorable campaign - so I think we need to make every vote count in our parliamentary elections. That means some move to PR - but to a version that preserves the constituency link.

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