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Voting Reform IS Possible

September 25, 2016

Many of those who would like to reform our ‘first past the post’ voting system will not fight for it because they think that it simply will not happen. They see that most MPs who have benefited from the existing system will not entertainment the ideas of reform. They despair of any real change in the way politics is done in this country. Consciously or unconsciously they accept that rising inequality, ‘austerity’, and environmental degradation are irreversible.

They forget however that both major parties are in disarray. Taking Labour first, although Jeremy Corbyn has been reelected and he stands for a better future, many in the party will not believe that voters can be convinced. Moreover the mainstream media (including the BBC) will simply not take the possibility of change for the better seriously. They will not see that ‘business as usual’ is simply not an option going forward.

At the moment Theresa May is holding the government together. In doing so she is having to pursue Brexit, something she does not believe in, and she is constantly having to slap down those who are supposed to be in charge of the preparations. In a sense, until Article 50 is invoked we are in a ‘phony war’. When that happens things are likely to fall apart. Many Conservative voters will at last realise that their loyalty is misplaced. They will defect to UKIP and perhaps other parties.

It should be remembered that modest swings in votes can sometimes produce dramatic changes in the make up of the Commons. If a party whose support is evenly spread goegraphically attracts less than 30% of the popular vote, first past the post treats such a party very badly as happened to the SDP/Liberal Alliance in 1983. If however the Alliance had retained the vote share it had before the Falklands campaign, simulations indicate it would have won an absolute majority. If the Conservatives cock up Brexit, who knows what will happen.

This is a time of great uncertainty; there is no guarantee we will win voting reform, but we should try.

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