Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Electoral reform does not reform our governance.

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.


  1. PR has its pros and cons, but as you discuss, with PR it is mostly cons. The Party system is one of the major failings of our current form of governance as it grows to require loyalty to the party above all else. The electorate comes a very long way down the priority list. Despite your lack of success, and if we are to reform governance from within, surely independent candidates are the only way to go. That’s a big “if”. I’m not yet convinced that reform is just ”largely a Red Herring.

    ”one key reason our governments are so incompetent is that they attempt to govern divorced from the views of the public at large” Isn’t that the inevitable result of the Party System?

    Maybe implementation of an agenda such as THA needs something more radical than internal reform, but what?

    1. Why would governments be competent if they took account of the views of the public? The public may be wrong. As far as electoral reform goes, it is not necessarily synonymous with PR. There may be ways of giving independents a chance of winning seats, without necessarily having PR.

    2. Yes, "The public may be wrong" and often will be on a variety of issues but, to misquote William Buckley, "I'd rather entrust the government of the UK to the first 400 people listed in the Burnley telephone directory than to the current incumbants."

      Niall Warry seemed to be voicing the perils of PR rather than suggesting that is a path down which we should go.

      I would love to see some way "of giving independents a chance of winning seats," but the present system in heavily stacked in favour of The Party system. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. Alfred, my point was that ELECTORAL reform is largely a Red Herring.

    As to your last comment our six demands are very radical!