Who wants electoral reform?

Electoral reform would make a difference to our politics, according to Gavin Esler for one. The UK is one of the few countries to have a ‘first-past-the-post’ system, yet our politicians talk as if it’s the only way. or as if all other systems are almost unworkable.

Electoral reform is not new

Nobody invented our parliamentary democracy all at once. There has been a long process, beginning in the Middle Ages, via the Civil War, the 1832 Reform Act and numerous changes to widen the franchise, including votes for women and the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18. Don’t think it’s wrong to change a system if we need to change it.

The hard way we got electoral reform. BATTLE OF EDGEHILL, 1642.<br />Prince Rupert in combat at the Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642. Painting, c1900, by Harry Payne, (1858-1927).

The hard way we got electoral reform BATTLE OF EDGEHILL, 1642.
Prince Rupert in combat at the Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642. Painting, c1900, by Harry Payne, (1858-1927).

Why do we need it?

  • The present system favours the big parties, especially the Tories.
  • It encourages a winner-take-all approach rather than seeking consensus and compromise
  • Above all it is unjust. A party could gain a significant amount of votes overall but win few or no seats if they didn’t get enough in any one place, whilst a party with only, say, 40% of the votes could win all the seats, if people didn’t all vote for the same alternative party.

Electoral reform is only part of the change we need

Governments appoint the members of the House of Lords and hardly anyone in office wants to give them more power, because, if we elected them, they would claim ‘legitimacy’ and demand a greater role. Why not?

I have written before about the need to reform the way Parliament operates and also about the need for the king to have more powers, similar to those of presidents in countries like Germany and Italy.

What kind of reform would be best?

There are many different versions around the world and people have proposed others and I think it’s high time we had a serious discussion. Feel free to send me your comments, on this blog, on the contact form on the website, or by e-mail.