10 May 2010

Will Clegg give in?

Over the last two days before the election in Stroud an extra 1,311 people applied for postal votes and 740 for inclusion on the register of electors. Many, like myself, have been frustrated that once again having voted, the results don't reflect the will of the British people. There is no question we are at an historic moment. Stroud District Green party have added their voice to a change in the electoral system - see here.

Picture by Russ for Ruscombe Green: "The Clock is Ticking"

Several campaigns have been launched like Take Back Parliament who are demanding a fair voting system so that we have a Parliament which properly represents the British people. Take Back Parliament brings together a coalition of different groups and organisations in the call for fair votes. They include POWER2010, Unlock Democracy. Electoral Reform Society and Vote for a Change. Over 50,000 people, including myself, have signed up in the couple of days since the election - the demo in London got great coverage on the BBC.

Hopes for a changed system now rest on a knife edge

Rumours this morning are that Clegg is set to give in....City traders and the press are pushing the Liberal Democrats to back a Conservative government unconditionally, giving up on vote reforms and principles of fairness.

Avaaz have a petition that hopes to deliver 100,000 signatures to party leaders before they decide. Sign here: www.avaaz.org/en/fair_votes_now/?vl

As I've said here before a balanced parliament is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our tired political system. Will the Lib Dems stick to their principles?

Green view

Britain's first Green MP and Party Leader, Caroline Lucas commented at the weekend:

These are uncharted waters for all politicians. But this only makes it more important that Nick Clegg makes his decisions based on the clear steer given to him by voters. In this election the British people have brought in a House of Commons in which a majority of MPs are from parties which support reform. A clear majority of people in the United Kingdom voted for reform of our political system. Therefore any arrangement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives must include genuine and comprehensive reform of the political system. A commission, inquiry, or any other delaying tactic will not be acceptable. There should be a referendum before the end of the year which includes options for a genuinely proportional system not the self-serving system of AV which is even less proportional. The people should be asked what voting system they would prefer. That is proper democracy. The first past the post system has created a situation where people cannot vote positively for the candidate or party whose policies they most agree with. Instead, they are forced to vote in fear, working out how to vote to keep out the party furthest away from them in policy and values. This leaves us a grotesque democratic deficit and a poor basis on which to govern. The Liberal Democrats must not be seduced by the trappings of power. The people have voted for reform: Nick Clegg must not betray them.

Send Clegg a message on the Environment

There are also fears the Environment might be dropped in discussions with the Tories. Friends of the Earth have launched a campaign as well. See it here:

The majority of those voting want change

We don't want a monopoly government, based on the support of less than a quarter of the electorate. I suspect only a partnership between Labour and the Liberal Democrats can give the country the proportional electoral system it is crying out for. The election showed that at least 57% voted for parties seen as being of the centre-left. As things stand 'progressives' can claim in total at least 326 seats in the new parliament: an absolute majority.

More blog posts soon (incl Wap) but must dash to meeting.


Salman Aslam said...

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Philip Booth said...

See Carolines position on coalition:

Philip Booth said...

And here is a statement sent to The Times by Caroline Lucas before Brown resigned...

I think what voters want right now is for politicians of all parties to put the electorate before their own party’s self-interest.

The worst-case scenario is that months of political squabbling will lead to public dissatisfaction with politicians reaching an all-time high. But the public can’t easily express this dissatisfaction constructively, because the first-past-the-post system forces people in most places to vote for their least worst option – one of those same old parties.

Sadly the worst-case scenario seems likely, because the Lib Dems – not so much a party of change, more a party of changing its mind – will allow themselves to be seduced. They might win a referendum allowing the public to choose between a first-past-the-post two-party stitch-up on the one hand, and an AV three-party stitch-up on the other.

In the best-case scenario, however, the Lib Dems hold their nerve. They realise that gaining some cabinet seats in return for settling for AV would be an unforgiveable self-servingact that would destroy Lib Dem credibility with progressive voters. They realise that shoring up a Tory government would do the same. They insist that Labour make serious commitments on a range of issues, starting with thoroughgoing political reform – and above all a fair and inclusive voting system.

People are calling the proposed Lab-Lib arrangement a ‘progressive coalition’, although there’s a lot of their policy we wouldn’t really recognise as progressive. But this wouldn’t matter so much, as the next election would be fought under a properly proportional system. People would be freed from tactical voting and would instead vote for what they actually want. Voters would vote for policies, not personalities. The make-up of parliament would more accurately reflect voters’ aggregate preferences, and the policies that were passed would be those that commanded majority support amongst the electors.

Philip Booth said...

Here's a good comment piece on the LibCon coalition: