In a fortnight, the fates of Disastrous Dave and Edward the Unfortunate will be sealed. Not only will the knives will likely be out, but they are likely to have been inserted into their unfortunate victims.
Disastrous Dave’s strategy of appealing to the centre left liberal establishment following Mrs May’s advice to not to lead the “Nasty Party” and failing to deal with UKIP by offering a proper In/Out referendum on the EU has cost the Tories their chance of victory.
As for Edward the Unfortunate, he is the man travelling from Jedburgh to the Carter Bar (the point at which the A68 crosses the border and forms a pass located at the top of Redesdale in the Cheviot Hills) when he fell among some seriously nasty persons, who stripped him of his election raiment, and wounded his election prospects, and departed, leaving him politically half dead.
During this campaign, this organ has maintained that a likely outcome is the Grand Coalition.
However, a question arises. Has the despond induced by the SNP’s success and the threat of the metaphorical gallows caused Edward the Unfortunate and his Labour Party colleagues to consider drinking the hemlock proffered by Mistress Sturgeon?
This hemlock would not take the form of a formal coalition but on a confidence and supply basis and given the likely outcome would need Mr Clegg and the Lib-Dems to sign up to it. Which will mean that Mr Clegg would have to drink the hemlock as well.
Of course the consequences of drinking the hemlock would be well known to both men, so this begs the question; “Why drink it?”
There is a possible answer: They may well desire to take the antidote.
This antidote would be Proportional Representation.
The Liberal Democrats have long argued for PR. Their preferred form is the Single Transferable Vote. Mistress Sturgeon has announced that she would support calls for the introduction of some form of PR for the House of Commons. It might be the case that Edward the Unfortunate may seek to mitigate the electoral consequences of five years of austerity in England but none in Scotland by protecting Labour through adoption of PR. Were this to happen is likely to be placed on the statute book with some form of devolution to artificiality created regions of England.
This the British Gazette feels would be a disaster.
Let us be clear: Until recently, your Editor has been a great supporter of PR. Since 1970 in fact when I stood in a mock election at school.
PS: I lost! To the Communist!
I like Mr Clegg have always thought the Single Transferable Vote, preferably with seven member constituencies, as the ideal electoral system. I still do – for counties not possessed of the UK’s problems.
I have long supported PR as the First Past the Post deals unfairly with any more than two parties. Which is why the US politicians refer to it as “the two party system.”
The principal advantage of PR is that it helps small parties. It encourages factionalism. I would suggest that this is precisely what we should not have it – due to our increasingly diverse society. The danger would be that if we had elected English regional assemblies with full PR we could see the establishment of sectarian parties. These would reflect the different ethnic minorities so we could have a Muslim party, a Sikh party, a Hindu party and so on.
I therefore turn the Reader’s attention to a proposal:
As stated, the First Past the Post system currently used in the U.K. fails as it cannot fairly deal with three parties. In the USA where they effectively have two parties – Democrats and Republicans – the First Past the Post system works – and works well. In fact, Americans call the system “the two party system”. This emphasises the fact that the First Past the Post can only work fairly when there are only two parties.
I suggest that the limitations inherent in the First Past the Post system be addressed by using the Second Ballot method of election.
The Second Ballot works as it is described. Voters go to the polls and vote for their preferred candidate. The candidate with the largest number of votes together with the candidate the second largest number of votes (the runner up) go into a second round (run off) election. The second round is in fact the First Past the Post but with only two candidates.
This would mean that British governments would very much carry on in a similar manner as before: that the Sovereign would call upon the leader of the largest party in the Commons to form a government. Such a government would have a clear majority in the Commons which would enable it to function as a coherent administration.
In addition to these proposals I suggest two “twists”:
The first “twist”: One of the problems in British Elections is low voter turnout. The Australian answer to this is compulsory voting. It works. Very much in the manner of the GATSO camera. Few motorists – save for those in foreign plated cars – will knowingly break the speed limit in front of a GATSO camera as they do not want a £60 fine and three penalty points. By the same reasoning, few Australians fail to turn up at the polls on Election Day as they do not want to pay a fine. However, I do not propose making it compulsory for British Electors to vote in both elections (1st & 2nd rounds). Instead I propose that only the 2nd (final) round of the Commons elections be made compulsory. This would in fact help the political process as the minor parties would realise that with a small voter turnout in the first round elections would give their candidate a greater possibility of coming second and therefore going through to the run off. This in fact happened in France when the Front National candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen got through to the second round as a result of a low poll.
The second “twist”: this is connected with the first. Since the voter is required by law to cast a vote there MUST be an option made available to them if they do not wish to vote for either of the two “run off” candidates. Therefore there should be a “Neither of these” box – which we consider will very quickly become known as the “NOT box” or “NOTS.” This of course throws up a possibility which must be considered and planned for – even though it may be considered unlikely: were the results in such an election to mean that the number of “NOTS” exceeded the number of votes cast for either one of the candidates (NOTS 1st; Candidate A, 2nd and Candidate B, 3rd) then neither run off candidate should be elected and a writ would have to be moved in the new parliament for a by-election – the “First Past the Post” to be used here – compulsory voting not to apply. My preference would have been the Alternative Vote in these circumstances. However, following the comprehensive defeat of AV in the recent referendum, the peoples wishes should be followed.
I would however suggest the adoption of the Conservative party’s suggestion of restricting the voting rights of these MPs in line with the devolved competences in answer to the “West Lothian question.”
I would also suggest that the number of MPs be reduced to around 500. Why 500 members? You may well ask. Well that great parliamentarian, the late Enoch Powell knew a lot about the workings of parliament and was of the opinion that 500 was the optimum number. Lower than this and one failed to have the breadth of talent and experience. Higher than this, it was difficult for members to, “catch the Speaker’s eye.” Therefore the British Gazette considers that Mr. Powell’s advice in this area of his expertise should be followed.