Since the start of my involvement with THA I have come across a number of people who believe that a far quicker way to improve our governance is to introduce a new voting system, usually PR, or for a new party to be set up to challenge Labour and the Conservatives.
The first point to be made is that electoral reform will not give the people one more ounce of power over the eventual government that forms after an election. This would still be the case even with a coalition government formed under a system of PR or a government created from a new party.
Considering the likely success of new parties, you only have to look back at the lack of electoral success by UKIP in nearly 25 years, that didn’t manage to get one MP elected to parliament, to realise that this avenue is pretty much a dead end . This is a conclusion I came to after standing as a UKIP candidate on a number of occasions, even under my own party banner and finally as an independent.
As to having a system of PR just consider the current situation in Italy which has had no fewer than 66 governments since the WW2 and, even since extra electoral reforms in 1993, it has had ten prime ministers – compared with five French Presidents in the same period.
Also consider Belgium, which has PR, which lasted 541 days without a government, between 2010 -2011, after not one of the 11 parties that won seats at the general election got over 20% of the votes. I always find it interesting to point out with this example that the country seemed no worse off without a government for all that time – politicians really are not so important as so many of them think they are as the people can manage quite well without them!
Even where differing systems of PR have not led to the crippling impact of revolving door governments, as in say Germany, they have not, as I’ve said above, given the people any real power over their government after voting them in at a general election.
I now believe that there is a good argument for saying that one key reason our governments are so incompetent is that they attempt to govern divorced from the views of the public at large resulting in the country going from one crisis to another.
THA is about giving people real power over our governments between elections and this can only be achieved with reforms to our system of governance as set out in our six demands. Reforms to our electoral/voting system is largely a Red Herring.
If we want to make our democracy more democratic, which must fundamentally mean giving the people real power over our politicians, then the priority has to be the radical reform to our system of governance.