09 July 2009
My Video For Vote For A Change
It would be wonderful if there were thousands of people at this rally today - I suspect the lack of publicity and controversy of this non-emotive subject will mean it will be in the hundreds not thousands.
This is a real shame because without mass public support, I don't think we have much chance of making politicians change their ways.
Labour hass lost the legitimacy to change the electoral system. Even if a referendum were won next year on changing to something more proportional for electing MPs, we need the people to have a real say over how that is implemented.
I am resigned to having to wait another generation, another few decades for PR. Vernan Bogdanor is optimistic change will come in the next 10 years. I think he is looking at the demographics of voting intention and I am not sure even that will be enough.
With turnout down at 35% amongst teenagers and Labour and Tory getting less than 50% support between them in this age group and at the recent Euro elections, in the next few decades, first-past-the-post is going to look less and less legitimate giving large majorities to parties that struggle to get even 30% of the vote on a less than 50% turnout.
The main parties have had no problem ruling us with just 1 in 5 support, so I imagine they will have no qualms trying to rule with just 1 in 10. But more and more this might open the door for far-right extremists to gain control of local authorities and maybe even government - as more and more people become disenchanted at their lack of say in what is done in their name.
Only a more proportional system could reverse this trend, as demonstrated with larger turnouts in New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. The public school boys will hold out as long as they can, but eventually (and hopefully in my lifetime) we will get rid of this archaic and undemocratic system.