The system parties use themselves!

Stones Drive

Ripponden

THE British first past the post (PP) electoral system is officially supported by the Conservative and Communist Parties, the BNP and some Labour politicians the likes of whom after the last general election vehemently opposed any coalition with the liberals.

This despite the facts that all three main political parties use the Alternative Vote (AV) system to elect their leaders, as is also used in elections for the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies and the election of the Mayor of London.

Those people who believe that a Parliament following a general election should as far as possible mirror the views expressed by voters would prefer a Proportional Representation (PR) system, the long-time policy of the Liberal Party.

When forming the current coalition government David Cameron flatly refused a referendum on PR, but much to the annoyance of some in his party conceded a referendum on AV.

One MP in the current parliament was elected with only 29 per cent of the vote and in 1992 a Liberal was elected with a mere 26 per cent of the vote.

At the last election the Liberals with about a third of the vote secured only one sixth of MPs. Anyone who believes this is acceptable and that power for one particular party is more important than good democracy will go along with the present system which may have been fit for purpose when to all intents we had a two-party system.

With a better informed public, despite a near monopolistic and mainly politically biased national press, we have a truly pluralistic society with a wide range of political and social views and with a right to be represented in Parliamentary debate.

First past the post, together with party whipping, narrows that debate as it excludes minority viewpoints and leads to party dogmatism, confrontation and rarely to co-operation in the national interest. Hardly surprising then that some of our MPs, unlike in most other Western European countries, find the idea of coalition and inevitable compromise an anathema.

It seems highly likely that it is our system that leads to some inflexible dogmastists being attracted into politics. The General Synod of the Church of England has three times passed a motion that first past the post is unfair and unjust in the relationship of votes cast and seats gained by political parties.

At least and at last we are being given the chance to vote for the alternative vote which beyond dispute is a more democratic system, more suitable for the 21st Century and for a country which once was a world leader in democracy.

Roy Tomlinson