Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A hung Parliament is what the UK needs

John Major has added his alto to the Tory choir warning of the business risks of a hung or balanced Parliament. The Tories would have us believe that it would be bad for the Pound. They point to the worries in the City last week. However, we are told that the City looks ahead, and last week's wobble has now been corrected. Any "hung Parliament" effect is vastly overshadowed by the plunge caused by the dire news from Greece.

In any case, elections are about the will of the people, not the political preference of the City of London.

A Government which includes more than one party is the norm in most other modern democracies. Democracy means that the will of the people is the ultimate source of power, and the will of the people is diverse, not monolithic. Government formed of two or more parties reflects this reality.

Wikipedia lists 79 countries using some form of PR. It is absurd to argue that these countries suffer economically because they routinely have mixed Governments.

In fact a hung Parliament would probably mean Vince Cable in the Treasury, if not as Chancellor, which would  boost popular confidence at least, since he is regarded as the least untrustworthy in economic matters.

Nick Clegg was perfectly reasonable to argue that he should be guided by the size of the popular vote, not by the number of MPs, given the perverse results that FPTP throws up.  The downside to this principle is that it would put the country at risk of a Cameroonian Government. So he offset that by setting PR as a precondition of his cooperation. That's politics.

The Conservatives scream that Clegg wants electoral reform just to benefit the LibDems. Although it is true that the LibDem preference is STV, which is not strictly proportional, it would be an improvement on what we now have. Best outcome would be AV+, based on AV which is the direction in which the Government supertanker is steering, with a top-up from party lists to ensure proportionality.

Electoral reform is not an end in itself, it is a precondition of a root-and-branch political and constitutional reform.

This stuff is not rocket science. Why to the media have so much trouble explaining it to the public? The net effect of most media reports is obfuscation and confusion, not clarity and enlightenment.

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