[email protected]: Claire Rayner – The only way to win back votes

Over at The Guardian Lib Dem supporter (and former ‘agony aunt’) Claire Rayner argues that only electoral reform can break the cycle of cynicism over politics and politicians by encouraging people to vote again. Here’s an excerpt:

So, the right to vote was fought for, and everyone over the age of 18 in the UK is able to choose their representative for minor and important matters of state. Do they? Do they, hell. We have the most feeble of democracies because people do not bother exercising their right to vote. A disappointing number of eligible Britons turned up to vote for their MEPs this spring, and those who don’t vote are often those who whine the most about our involvement with Europe.

There is a cure for this lamentable sickness in our so-called democracy. The cure is proportional representation. This will ensure that more people have a broader choice of members of parliament than they have now.

You can read the article in full HERE.

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  • Andrew Suffield 7th Jul '09 - 10:32pm

    It’s going to take more than proportional representation – it’ll take a government who does what the public wants – but it would be a nice start.

  • The thing about constitutional reform is that loath as I am to say it most of the public still think it’s a complete waste of time and money, irrespective of expenses. They don’t want to change the system – they want to change the people.

    It’s still political geekery to the average voter. They just want MPs who aren’t seemingly on the take – they’re not interested especially in how they get them. Those of us who care deeply about fair votes shouldn’t confuse the current nadir with a real appetite for serious reform on the part of the public themselves.

  • ‘Claire Rayner argues that only electoral reform can break the cycle of cynicism over politics and politicians by encouraging people to vote again.’

    But we have PR for the Scottish parliament,Welsh Assembly and Euro elections and it’s made no difference to voter turnout,in fact the Euro turnouts have been steadily decreasing.

    Is it so difficult to understand that to encourage people to vote again, they actually need politicians to vote for which excludes most of the second rate rejects in the current HoC.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jul '09 - 11:36am

    Alex is right. I’ve always been a strong supporter of proportional representation, but to put it forward as the instant solution to the current widespread anti-politics mood is naive. Indeed there have been cases in other countries where proportional representation is used where FPTP has been put forward as a solution to their political malaise. Most notably, the introduction of FPTP was a major part of the policies proposed by the Dutch party D’66 when it was founded, and to this day D’66 seems admirably social liberal but has some fairly horrible and illiberal ideas on constitutional matters.

    This is all an indication of the “something must be done” attitude to politics, or indeed to management in general, where some re-organisation is done because that’s easier to do than tackle the deeper problems. Sometimes that reorganisation might be used as an excuse to introduce something which is valuable anyway – but we should beware of when it’s used as an excuse to introduce something dangerous.

    The deeper problem here is the way the political parties present themselves. What is needed is a radical reform of how WE as a a party do politics. Well, I think we can be sure the others won’t do that, so it is up to us. We could break through in this way. Or we could carry on being a nice liberal party which bounces around at 20% or so in the polls so long as the anti-politics mood doesn’t get really nasty and sweeps us away along with the other two.

    BTW, I think we should stop talking about “proportional representation”. In the past we made the mistake of thinking talking about the system used was so geekish it would turn people off. The consequence of this is that we have allowed opponents to get away with arguments based on the idea that the party-list system we use for MEP elections is what we want. That’s fair, given that we, wrongly, welcomed it with cheers when it was introduced. We should try and invent a name for STV which makes it clear that it’s a system which involves voting for individuals and so, apart from the fact that it does give a proportional result if voters do stick to party order, is in many ways the opposite of the fixed party list system.

  • @Matthew

    ‘STV – its as easy as 1 2 3’

    with apologies to the Supremes ( showing my age)

  • Jackson 5, shirley.

  • Mark Wright

    Euro election 1994 (last election with FPTP)turnout 36% 2009 turnout 34%.

    Scottish parliament 1999 58%,2007 52%

    Welsh Assembly 1999 46%,2007 43%

  • Terry Gilbert 8th Jul '09 - 9:24pm

    Stop talking about proportional representation and talk about ‘more choice’ and ‘1,2,3 voting’.

  • Of course the Scottish and Welsh votes went down as 1999 was the first elections for them so it was bound to have a novelty bounce. As for the euro elections they are a horrible form of closed list PR which basically makes the actual elections almost meaningless with only a handful of seat changing hands each election so hardly supreising people don’t bother to vote especially given most people have no idea what an MEP does anyway.

    If we get STV then we get rid of safe seats and hopefully the change in the type of people who are MPs that I think everyone truly wants.

  • ‘Stop talking about proportional representation and talk about ‘more choice’ and ‘1,2,3 voting’.’

    What choice?

    A bunch of politicians doing deals behind closed doors,the third party always being in government,never ending coalitions with ready made excuses why they couldn’t get their policies through.
    In the end the country being held to ransom by minor parties.

  • Better that than a tiny number of voters in marginal seats deciding who becomes out indirectly elected dictator

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jul '09 - 10:20pm

    John Zims

    A bunch of politicians doing deals behind closed doors,the third party always being in government,never ending coalitions with ready made excuses why they couldn’t get their policies through.

    OK, John – why don’t you be HONEST about what you really support:

    A bunch of politicians who collectively don’t have the support of even half of those who voted, and a good portion of them being forced to vote for something they disagree with because that’s what you call “strong government”.

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