Major parties will not back PR vote

I refer to the January 15 letter ‘Will he (Mr Corbyn) bring in PR voting’ and the following is my reply? The answer is an emphatic NO.

Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s democratic, honest straight talking, progressive politics (and the fact that practically every western democratic power adopts some form of PR whether it be single transferable vote or in most cases party lists) he is already on record as saying that he is in favour of retaining first past the post because of the rather weak argument that the great virtue of FPTP is the retention the MP link to constituents and it gives the electorate a clear ‘choice’ of either Labour or Conservative.

However, you only have to look at Germany for an example which has a strong economy, a strong government with a strong leader elected on a mixed PR System with a 72 per cent turnout at their last election.

Every vote counts and none is wasted. You have two votes on the ballot paper.

You vote firstly for a local candidate and secondly but most crucially you vote directly for the party you want to form the next government.

This means your ability to vote is not determined by where you live geographically.

So, for example, if we had a pure party lists or mixed PR system in UK general elections an SNP supporter who lives south of the Scottish border could vote SNP, a UKIP voter living in London could vote UKIP or a Labour supporter living in a Conservative heartland (like Bexhill) could vote Labour and the vote will count towards the national tally – with seats distributed proportionately with the combined total votes cast for both the local candidates and those cast directly for the party.

Under the PR system it would not be possible for one party (as is the case in the UK under FPTP) to form a government on a minority vote.

The fact is both Labour and the Conservatives will never agree to PR for the simple reason that PR will end their joint monopoly of power in Westminster and any future prospect of either of them (especially Labour) forming a majority government.

The erosion of the number of seats would be so great that they would be faced with having to form coalition governments in perpetuity.

Although to her credit Nicola Sturgeon as the leader of the third largest party in Westminster, the SNP, has declared her support for PR it is hard to imagine her party actively campaigning for a PR system that will reduce their number of seats by nearly a third.

I know the Labour Party and the Tories will say but ‘Oh we had a referendum a few years ago and the issue was decided’.

That was in fact part political stunt, part stitch-up.

PR not surprisingly was not on offer as an alternative to FPTP – it was the alternative voting system instead.

A system adopted by I think three or four countries in the entire world.

It is not PR and not a credible voting system for general elections.

It is primarily used for party leader elections as in the recent Labour contest.

The referendum I believe had a 45 per cent turnout and of those who voted how many of them (including myself at the time) knew exactly what the alternative vote actually was?

Also, there will always be a tendency for people to vote at such a referendum for the voting system that benefits the party they support (which in most cases will be Labour/Tory) not the system that is the most democratic, fair and the one, in the case of PR, which gives a level playing field for all parties to contest the general election.

Philip Madden

Hastings Road


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