The Independent has the story – see link above
I must admit that I felt that electoral reform had been killed off for at least a generation when in the 2011 referendum British voters voted 2 to 1 to keep our wholly unrepresentative first past the post voting system. Indeed, I thought the referendum itself was a bad move as the result, at that time, was always a forgone conclusion. Sadly, this was another misjudgement from Nick Clegg who could not get his head around the fact that once he U-turned over Tuition Fees nothing else he headed up (in this case electoral reform) stood a chance of ever being approved by UK electors.
But then the 2015 election threw up one of the most unrepresentative results in living memory with a Tory Government that over 63% of the electorate voted against. All of a sudden other parties found the electoral system was rather unrepresentative! I wonder how many of their members voted against electoral reform or ignored the referendum in 2011 but now want to see it happen?
Labour have always been against electoral reform although to give him his due their last leader, Ed Miliband, does support it. Labour’s problem is that in inner city seats our warped first past the post system always gets Labour MP’s elected just like it helps get Tories elected in the leafy suburbs and countryside seats. However, Labour can’t now win a majority of seats without taking many of those areas where the Tories usually win; even more so now the Tories are gerrymandered the system in their favour for the 2020 election and beyond. So what will Labour do? Oppose electoral reform and settle back to be an opposition party for at least 2 generations or smell the coffee and embrace fair votes?
Vested interests in the Tory and Labour parties will oppose electoral reform until their last breath so it’s a tough ask indeed. Or look at it this way can you imagine the Bootle Labour Party backing electoral reform before hell freezes over?
The left of British politics has always been factionalised with numerous socialist parties coming and going, the Labour Party often engaged in vicious internal warfare (as they are at present) and the Lib Dems, in recent years, having been pulled towards economic rather than social liberalism. Of course looking back a while the SDP also failed to ‘break the mould’ as it became split by the ‘Owen’ factor amongst other things.
The lack of unity on the left has always been a problem and our warped first past the post electoral system has also helped to put many Tory Governments in power who have nothing like majority popular support; just like the present one.
What beggars belief therefore is why when Labour have grabbed power for the odd short period they have not pursued electoral reform and a fair voting system. I suppose the last Labour government was too arrogant and thought their ‘New Labour’ guise would last and be popular for generations. Well it wasn’t so Labour went further to the right in opposition, even openly bashing the poor along the way. But as they became labeled Red Tories the electorate said stuff that we may as well have proper Tories.
The Lib Dems also discredited themselves by lying about Tuition Fees in 2010. Nick Clegg thought the electorate would forgive him. They didn’t. Indeed, because many of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 thought he was a straight forward chap whom they could trust his backing out of a clear promise caused them to drop him and his party like a stone. They expected other parties to tell porkies but having been persuaded the Lib Dems were trustworthy they turned against them big time. Rebuilding that lack of trust in the Lib Dems is probably Tim Farron’s biggest challenge.
The Greens tried lurching to left after 2010 and were the most socialist of the mainstream parties at the last general election but of course this move set their traditional environmentalist sect against an upstart socialist sect. Socialism and environmentalism have never sat comfortably together in my experience. Socialists on Merseyside that I have come across have always seemed to be very much disinterested in environmental issues.
But within the left there is at the heart of so many of its difficulties one major factor that causes the disunity which the Tories always benefit from. Many left wing sects think they are absolutely right and all other left wing sects are utterly wrong. Such tribalism then sets these sects against each other and the Tories win again whilst the left debates, often viciously, who is right and who is wrong. In differing ways I think that the emergence of the SDP and the rise of Tony Blair were reactions to the self destructive nature of the left.
The SDP failed and despite huge initial success Blair’s New Labour failed because he wandered to far right, got involved in the appalling Iraq war and probably laid the foundations for Labour to be cat called ‘Red Tories’.
The real danger that the left faces now is that we could have a seriously right wing Tory Party in power for a generation with UKIP effectively pulling their levers. Is this not enough of a nightmare to sober up the left of British politics?
My starting point is my posting of 24th May 2014:-
The centre left of politics in England put up two blokes whom the electorate thought were not credible – Miliband and Clegg. Both should have gone a year or more ago. The Lib Dems and Labour Party will regret that they said it would be alright on the night; it was not!
More thoughts when I have had some sleep!!!!
DID THEY THINK AT ALL?
Here is the sad, sad story as carried by the BBC.
Words fail me, they really do
THEY SHOULD ALL HANG THEIR HEADS IN SHAME
The results last Thursday were appalling for Liberal Democrats across England except in a relatively small number of heartland areas. Locally, Southport has continued to buck the trend like Stockport and South Lakeland in the North West but virtually everywhere else it was carnage.
The problem is that our Party is retreating into its heartlands and becoming almost without presence elsewhere.
Nick Clegg is a brave and decent man but he is held in utter disregard by most voters as was Gordon Brown before the last General election. Sadly, I have concluded that the electoral policy of retreating into the heartlands whilst letting the Party and councillors elsewhere take all the flak is simply no longer sustainable.
I have worked for my community for 29 years yet my friends and colleagues are being kicked out of office despite leading campaigns to save our Green Belt, oppose a Green Bin tax and fight library closures. It’s not that my community does not support such campaigns but they would rather vote Labour (who are promoting Green Belt building, threatening to bring in the Green Bin tax and closing libraries) rather than support Lib Dem councillors. The reason for this, in my view, is Nick Clegg and his deep unpopularity, which goes all the way back to that most unfortunate U turn over Student Tuition Fees.
I realise that our Tuition Fees policy was lost as part of negotiations with the Tories who would not support it and that the same would have been the case if we had been negotiating with Labour but it was the principle that mattered far more than the policy. Nick and his advisers saw it as a necessary compromise whilst many of us saw it as a very bad move. The day it happened we moved from being just about the most trusted of the political parties to the least trusted and it has haunted Nick ever since.
It’s not that I oppose the Coalition Government; I don’t. It was necessary otherwise our half dead economy would have turned into one with little hope at all. Labour had ruined the Country and frankly they can never be forgiven for that. But Nick has never recovered from Tuition Fees because electors simply do not trust him. It’s not that they trust the other political leaders, because they don’t, but that they trust Nick even less.
I fully accept he is a decent man doing an impossible job but, in my view, it is time for him to fall on this sword so to release him and his Party from the impossible position we find ourselves in which we have decently stuck with for long enough.
This amusing youtube video sums up Labour’s ‘what do we do or say about UKIP’ dilemma. Ed is seemingly afraid to debate with UKIP, he is worried that working class Labour voters will defect to UKIP and is unwilling to challenge this deeply illiberal Party – UKIP I mean in case you were wondering!.
Nick Clegg takes a lot of stick from the right wing press, because he often stops right wing Tories doing mad things in Parliament, but he was the only political leader willing to take on UKIP and he deserves credit for doing what Cameron and Miliband were not prepared to do. Considering that both Cameron and Miliband claim to be in favour of Europe their lack of guts, in ducking an encounter with UKIP, does them little credit.