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We should not neglect the Lib Dems

July 8, 2017

Most of MVM’s efforts are being devoted to winning over Labour (the only ‘progressive’ party not totally convinced) of the merits of proportional representation (PR). In spite of our best endeavours however we can never be certain that a Labour victory in a general election will win us PR. Those labour MPs in safe seats may vote with the Tories. Look what has happened in Canada. Another hung parliament could be our best hope. The role of the Lib Dems could be crucial.

In theory they support PR; they have every incentive to do so. The most spectacularly unfair result for their predecessors – the Libersl/SDP alliance was in 1983 when they received just 23 (3.5%) of the seats for 25.4% of the vote. In the ensuing ‘all party/ no party’ Campaign for Fair Votes, one million signatures were collected on a paper petition to the House of Commons. This involved door knocking up to 9 p.m. on winter evenings! It was all in vain; in accordance with custom, the boxes of signatures were placed behind the speaker’s chair, but no debate ensued. There was no media coverage, the event being overshadowed by the abolition of the Greater London Council.

Since then, during periods of majority government, the Lib Dems  have made little effort to win public support for PR. This was left to ‘all party’ groups, ERS which was hopeless and Charter88/Unlock Democracy which campaigned for far too many things. It has taken another manifestly unfair election and an 18 year old to take up the fight.

Following the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, the Scottish Lib Dems were for the second time in coalition with Labour and were able to use this position to secure STV for local elections, the first of which were held in 2007.

In the 2010 general election things went less well. The Lib Dems did not appear to have prepared for possibility of coalition, or else why did Clegg make that promise that they they little chance of delivering on? Although there had to be a Tory led government, the Lib Dems were their only possible partners. Theye should not have gone for coalition but only maintenance and supply. They should have fought harder for PR. It would have been good for the country and good for the long term future of the Lib Dems. Ther can be no question about the latter.

They must be helped to learn their lesson. They should ignore the inevitable Tory claims that campaigning for PR is special pleasding. It is vital for the future of Britain.

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From → Democracy

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