Electoral reform might not be the panacea the left hope it is
If the 2015 general election had been fought under PR, the Tories would most likely still be in government (probably in coalition with UKIP)
There’s a very interesting story in today’s Independent on Sunday.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, is in secret talks with Jeremy Corbyn about voting reform in a bid to form a progressive electoral alliance against the Conservatives.
Mr Farron’s aides are talking to a Labour MP a close ally of Mr Corbyn who is acting as a conduit between the two leaders, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
However, for the talks to progress, the Lib Dems want a respected senior figure in the Labour Party to take on a formal role as a go-between. â€œIt should be a former Cabinet minister, or someone of that rank, said a Lib Dem source.
The Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Greens could also be involved in the talks, the source said. If the Â negotiations are successful, up to five left-of-centre parties could stand on an agreed platform of voting reform at the 2020 election giving them a mandate to scrap Westminster’s first-past- the-post system without a referendum, so long as they are able to secure a majority in the Commons. Ukip also backs electoral reform, but is unlikely to enter into a pact with Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
Whilst it isn’t a formal pact, merely if the parties end up in government in 2020 they will change the voting system without a referendum. This might sound like a good idea if you don’t like the idea of a Tory government, but The Electoral Reform Society last summer produced a report showing what the general election result would have been if it has been fought under different (proportional) voting systems.Â
As we can see below, under the various PR systems, we would likely see a Tory/UKIP coalition, indeed some Tories might well regret not voting for AV in the 2011 referendum, as they would have done better under AV than under First Past The Post.
2015 general election result under different voting systems by The @electoralreform Society https://t.co/Gyvm8kJbyt pic.twitter.com/iMKpYJA6hd
— TSE (@TSEofPB) January 24, 2016
At the general election, in Great Britain, The Tories and UKIP polled 50.7%, some recent polls have the Tories and UKIP polling well above 50%, whilst it would be the height of arrogance to assume all UKIPers would vote Tory under a form of PR, it is easy to see under a more proportional voting system how the Tories would remain in power, especially against a Corbyn(esque) Labour leader.
I’m astounded given Corbyn’s dire polling, why the Lib Dems (or anyone else) would want to form an alliance/understanding with a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party on any topic. Political osmosis would take place, and the other parties in this alliance/understanding could be tainted by association with Corbyn’s more interesting views and policies. Instead of spending time on changing the voting system, it might be wiser for these parties to come up with policies that change the minds of the voters, especially Tory voters.