Shock! Horror! This weekend’s poll by YouGov for the ‘Sun’ newspaper puts the Liberal Democrats ahead for the first time since polling began! City AM newspaper writes “This has the potential to turn into a cataclysmic event and change politics for ever. There would be a hung Parliament, a Labour-Liberal coalition with Gordon Brown as Prime Minister with Nick Clegg’s support, in return for a full proportional representation parliamentary system”.
Proportional representation (PR) - yes, that’s exactly what I want. PR is described in Wikipedia as “a type of voting system aimed at securing a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates obtain in elections, and the percentage of seats they receive” rather than the “first past the post” system we currently have. Critics of proportional representation argue that it is administratively cumbersome, unconstitutional and complicated – thus confusing voters: it can be expensive and leads to legislative gridlock and unstable coalitions thus reducing the power of government and lengthening the process of passing new legislation. Interestingly, critics also say that PR encourages political extremism as smaller parties get the same share of ‘voice’ as larger parties.
As an ethnic, female immigrant all I can say is “proportional representation – bring it on”. I want a coalition government that spends more time discussing and cogitating before passing bills – at the moment commercial ‘lobbying’ means that richer parties are having undue sway on both the House of Parliament and the House of Lords - the Digital Economy Act is a good example of that. If it takes longer to pass bills, that is good too. Britain is already a “nanny state” burdening us all with seemingly endless bureaucracy. If, in the future, it takes ten times as long to put this bureaucracy in place…that’s a good thing, in my opinion.
Finally, I want PR so that my voice is heard and is represented. Women, ethnic minorities, the disabled are all badly served by major political parties. Little has been done to encourage change on these issues. The current nightmare of PPC selection means the chances of being selected are remote and the chances of actually winning are nigh on impossible – this is why Britain currently does not have a single Asian woman MP. If PR allows smaller parties and independents to have a greater share of ‘voice, then this will encourage many into Government in the future. As for encouraging extremism – surely extremism is created when there is no reasoned or informed debate, no middle ground?
18 days to the election
If I were voting today, it would still be the Liberal Democrats. I want proportional representation and I am willing to vote for any party that is going to make that happen.
One brownie point to The Liberal Democrats party for sending me an excerpt of their manifesto on 'Liberal Democrat Policies for Racial Equality' - music to my ears!