This is my plea to Trees for Labour in our PR debate, but it could just as easily be addressing all Labour Party Members. After hearing Antonia Bance call my views on PR odd, it made me realise that despite over 100 Labour MPs supporting me on this, there is still not enough support amongst Labour Party members for PR, hence my post here.
Tamonou, I appreciate your time is precious, sorry to keep bombarding you. If you only have time to read one article please read the PR and equality article.
I think I understand exactly why you believe what you believe on this issue, but you are on very shaky ground. I feel compelled to show you as much evidence as I can to persuade you of my case.
You talk of being consistent on this issue. You said in the past, that you were a believer in PR for the UK, this just happened to coincide with Labour being in opposition for 18 years and it being (not surprisingly) official Labour policy. You are very much a party man, all dissent has been quelled in the chase for the discipline needed to get elected under FPTP. This has been terrible for Labour party democracy and terrible for the working class who rely on us.
Of course when we got elected in 1997 with a massive majority, PR suddenly seemed less interesting and Labour has quietly buried the issue.
This IMO has been a big mistake. PR is about democracy, it should not be about which party can temporarily win.
It saddens me immensely to hear you say that another dose of Toryism will be a price worth paying for having our chance once in a generation. Look at how far Thatcherism knocked the Labour progressive movement back and remember that it will happen again, except this time they will be worse and gerrymander the system to take the urban vote out of the equation.
Whether you believe it or not, the Lib Dems are closer to us than the Tories will ever be. They even have a policy of increasing taxes for earners over £100,000. This is a policy to the left of us.
You talk of a Lib Dem/Labour coalition, but the Lib Dems are a funny lot. They will not survive PR, infact the whole political landscape will change. There will be a left of centre bloc, including us, the socialists, the greens and a right of centre bloc of UKIP and a pro-Europe Tory rump. The Lib Dems are a curious mix of protest votes and a spectrum of ideologies. I can't see them holding together for more than one election after PR.
As social democrats, Labour is very likely to be the biggest party. This is demonstrated by looking at PR systems around the world. We will be helped by the Tory split which will become more divisive under PR.
Look at the National party in NZ, which like the Tories consistently had absolute power on a pitiful share of the vote, now their vote has plummeted under PR, and they are a powerless rump.
In NI there is a big difference between the local PR elections and the FPTP elections for Westminster. Under FPTP, Sinn Fein and the DUP have taken over. In other words extremists have drowned out the moderates. In the PR elections the Alliance, SDLP and UUP win more seats and have more influence, moderating the debate.
Its good that you accept that where there are ethnic and political divisions, PR is important, essential even!
What you don't realise is that the UK ethnic population or other working class views are completely ignored. There are so few ethnic and working class MPs compared to the number you get under PR systems. PR is just as important in this country to give everyone a voice.
I admit that in urban towns the Tories did have MPs, but in the big metropolis outside London, the Tories have been minimal to non existent since the early Eighties. This has made them even more out of touch and dangerous if re-elected.
Just 35% of the vote on a very low turnout, was enough for a 66 majority, you argue this is legitimate because we were the biggest party, but what if the Tories were elected with a majority with just 30% or 29%, how low would you go and still consider it legitimate? Also remember FPTP doesn't guarantee the vote winner the most seats, as the vote fractures chances increase that even third place could guarantee a majority. That's how illegitimate this system is.
Don't you accept that being elected with an ever smaller percentage of the vote, (let alone electorate) leaves us open to extreme policies being rode roughshod over the population, hence the poll tax, Iraq war!
Labour despite its low vote has governed very consensually on most issues. I wouldn't trust the Tories to do the same!
I can see how tempting it is to keep FPTP while we are winning but we have to look at our long term future. For socialism to grow we need a long term democracy, PR will give us this.
AMS as I explained cannot be gerrymandered because it always produces a proportional result. The two tier MPs, you talk about are a disadvantage but quite a small disadvantage compared to the manyfold disaster that is FPTP. In terms of middle class MPs, there are far fewer under PR. There is a disgraceful lack of ethnic, female and working class representation under FPTP! Look at Scotland and Wales, Scandanavia, Germany, New Zealand to see how this is corrected.
I think the executive/legislative point you make is irrelevant here. PR can work just as well. Government under FPTP is still a government of consensus and differing views, but with the difference it is restricted to one party. FPTP is like consulting a 100 people to make a decision when there are 300 people's views to consider. PR consults everyone and the majority opinion prevails, it is just as easy to come to a decision, it is just that everyone has had an input to the debate instead of just a few.
Socialist ideology does far better under PR, see the article from harvard.