Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Is it Really People that Decide Elections Mr Brown?

OK I see that Gordon is putting a brave face on the Sun setting on the brave New Labour world of the past 12 years. He is saying that 'it is people that decide elections' not newspaper editorials. As Mr Dale, who is seeking to join the Commons for Bracknell, points out though we heard that before the last time the Murdoch empire lurched towards where the power maight lie.

However, as I pointed out just the other day ably backed up by Mark Thompson that isn't so much the case as the Electoral Calculus on the Ipsos Mori opinion poll highlighted it ain't necessarily so, even with us on 25% over Labours 24% we'd have more people yet less seats. Indeed the 1983 general election result also graphically illustrated this point. It isn't so much the people that decide elections as the politicians in the parties in power decide to sew that support up between then.

Take for example the last General Election Labour and the Tories won 67.5% of those who bothered to turn up and vote, yet between them managed to grab 85.8% of the 646 seats.

Labour had 35.3% vote share yet 55.1% of the seats
Tories 32.3% for 30.7% of the seats
Lib Dems 22.1% for only 9.6% of the seats.

Indeed there are estimated to be only 850,000 voters in swing seats that are targeted in a General Election there are too many safe seats, something that Brown's proposal of an AV system to elect a single person for a constituency is going to do little to rectify. As Mark pointed out (in what should have been Blog Post of the year) when MPs are comfortable in their seats as the vast majority of Labour and Conservative MPs tend to be they get lax. They tend to see it as what they can get out of it, rather than what is best for the people they are meant to be serving. The safer they are Mark pointed out the more they abused the system.

So Gordon no matter how much you think it is 'the people' who decide elections it really only is 646 people that really do. The MPs have the power to decide the system in which the people's votes and views are fairly taken into consideration. There is something you can do about that rather than just promise it. Hold a referendum before the next lot (whoever they are) come into power even if that is on election day, there actually is enough parliamentary time to make this so*. You've promised a referendum on voting reform to the Commons since 1997 and three historic full Labour terms have thus far failed to deliver. Why should we trust you with a fourth to make it happen? If you want to do it do it now, don't promise it in yet another manifesto.

*Several fellow Lib Dems will appreciate the geekishness of that phrase.

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