Come And See The Fascism Inherent In Polly Toynbee’s System

48
221

This is quite glorious as an exemplar:

After the shocking lies told in both the alternative vote and the Brexit referendum campaigns, who wouldn’t be wary of ever holding another public vote? Kellner suggests that Labour, if in power, could bring in the reform for one election, promising a referendum to confirm it once people had tried it.

We’ve had a referendum on proportional representation and the people didn’t like it. Therefore the people should get it anyway because PR would be good for the left’s electoral chances.

Yes, OK, it’s not exactly making the trains run on time but it is more than just a little authoritarian, isn’t it?

48
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
39 Thread replies
16 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
HJ777Quentin VoleDavidjohn77NDReader Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Boganboy
Guest
Boganboy

My favourite Bismarck quote: Nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution.

I’d argue therefore that, once it’s in, Labour will say ‘Of course they like it. There’s no reason to hold a referendum.’ Unless, that is, they lose the election.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

We didn’t have a referendum on PR – it was on the AV voting system, which isn’t PR.

The point is that although PR may be preferred by some people, there is no evidence that it results in more democratic government. That Polly automatically thinks it does shows how shallow her thinking is. It has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, just like our current system.

jgh
Guest
jgh

This is why I prefer small STV rather than PR. Rather than giving a proportional result, it spreads the representation around, you’ll often get the same total numbers, but instead of, eg, 10 Labour seats across 10 seats in a Labour area, and Cons getting 10 across 10 seats in a Con area, you gets something like 8 Labour + 2 Con in the first area and 8 Con + 2 Lab in the second area. Constituents become more connected to their local representatives, and you get better legitimacy, when it’s more likely that more of the constituents are likely… Read more »

David
Guest
David

A good explanation. I would add a small list to make it more proportional. The advantage about STV is that you can chose which type of Tory or Labour you get.

John B
Guest
John B

Which means you can never change Government, just adjust the seating arrangements now and then, but the coalition-of-all continues with a small Party holding the balance in exchange for getting its minority policies inflicted on the majority who don’t want them.

See Germany with Chancellor-for-life Merkel and the minority Green agenda Government they have had for decades because the electorate cannot get rid of the coalition.

PR allowed a minority Party – the National Socialist German Workers Party – with little support, into Government and coalition and then Hello Mr Hitler.

David
Guest
David

PR enables new parties to start up. The Greens and UKIP have had in their history only 3 MPs between, their German equivalents have had lots of success.
Surely it is good that new parties can start?
The Germans can get rid of Merkel – they can just vote differently – I wish they would.
In the UK the majority didn’t vote for Thatcher but she was in power for 10 years. Radical change is possible under PR – Merkel’s immigration policy is an example of such a change – a bad one but shows what is possible.

Phoenix44
Guest
Phoenix44

Why is it good? It’s not as if we are still stuck arguing about stuff from 1815 now. Parties move on, they change, some even regress for a bit (as Labour has done). New parties tend to be single-issue fanatics rather than broad-based groupings, and if support for those issues reaches significant levels, mainstream parties have to take notice.

David
Guest
David

Businesses that screw up cease to exist – personally I think it would be great if parties ceased to exist as well.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

You are making the assumption that most were against Margaret Thatcher just because they didn’t vote for her party. Of course, it is true that most would have preferred a different government, but if you vote for a smaller party you know that they will never be in a position to implement their policies. Just because they voted for another party doesn’t mean that the were actively opposed to Margaret Thatcher – just that she and her party weren’t their first choice. The problem with all these ‘start up’ parties is that they tend to be essentially single issue parties,… Read more »

David
Guest
David

But FPTP gives the Scots the SNP – so both systems can give unpleasant results.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

I’m not a fan of STV. In my opinion, proportionality is not something we should be pursuing. The merit of our system is that it forces politicians to work within ‘broad church’ political parties if they are to have a chance of being elected. These ‘broad church’ parties (which are effectively coalitions) then come up with a programme for government that the electorate can broadly expect them to implement if they win. Voters can then judge these programmes for government in their entirety. With PR, you tend to get many more minor parties, often subsequently holding the balance of power,… Read more »

Bloke in North Dorset
Guest
Bloke in North Dorset

I always look at Israel and Belgium as examples where badly designed systems go wrong and produce the opposite of what is desired:

1. Israel has a low threshold so small right wing and orthodox parties have a disproportionate hold on government.

2. Belgium often struggles to forma government (that in itself has benefits :)).

I’m sure Polly doesn’t envisage either situation.

It seems to work reasonably well in the Netherlands, but having worked there I think it suits their culture. I’m not sure it would ever suit our adversarial culture.

David
Guest
David

Surely Belgium and Israel with their linguistic (French and Flemish parties) and religious differences (Orthodox Jewish parties) are not really comparable to the UK?
The Netherlands on the other hand are a lot more comparable.

David
Guest
David

But surely we should have the chance to vote on it via a referendum as we did for Brexit?

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

What voting system would you use for a referendum given that there are many different voting systems to choose from in that referendum?

David
Guest
David

Why not STV? That would be the obvious choice for this sort of choice.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

Why ‘obvious’?

David
Guest
David

Well lets assume that we have a referendum and there are 4 different choices, FPTP, AV, list, STV
The good thing about STV – is that you can put them in order of preference.
What I find really hypocritical is that the Tories say FPTP is great for Westminister elections but not for choosing their leader. Why not use the same system for both?

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

Tory leadership elections are a different thing because there are two electorates – MPs and electors. It’s also practicable to have multiple rounds. It isn’t for GEs.

Order of preference – the argument here is that you would get a compromise system, not necessarily one that any significant proportion of the electorate wants.

David
Guest
David

Many countries have two rounds – if it is good for the Tories why not for the country?
You have a compromise at the moment. I don’t like Boris Johnson but I voted for him for as the choice was between him and a man who wants us to be like Venezuela. As our current system gave us that choice between a man who thought about having a journalist being beaten up.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

Two rounds in presidential elections, yes. Ours isn’t a presidential election.

The virtue of our system is that, as you said, you had a clear choice. Labour ceased to be a broad church and instead presented us with an extreme left option – and was soundly rejected as a result.

David
Guest
David

The French have two rounds for MPs.
A clear choice between Johnson and Corbyn is a pretty poor choice – we could have ended up like Venezuela

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

What other, better, choice would another system have presented us with?

In a PR system, the SNP, Greens, etc. would have had held the balance of power and would have put Corbyn in power in exchange for specific concessions on their own obsessions (which most people oppose). We would have been much more likely to end up with Corbyn in power implementing his Venezuelan policies.

David
Guest
David

The SNP would have a lot less power under PR – FPTP really helps them. The other problem with FPTP is that it creates one party council states. Many councils have almost 100% one party despite them getting less than 50%

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

The SNP has no power in parliament currently. They may be over-represented with MPs compared to the proportion of the vote they received (and because Scotland is traditionally over-represented with MPs compared to its population) but they have no power. Had the last election been held using a PR system, they would have proportionately less representation but might well have been (along with other small parties) in a position to decide whether we had Corbyn or Johnson as PM – and we all know which option they would have chosen. That’s a big problem with PR systems – you can… Read more »

David
Guest
David

I don’t think many people in the UK supported the Maastricht treat – you can get a government implementing policies that the majority of voters don’t support under FPTP and it has take almost 30 years to overturn it. “Had the last election been held using a PR system, they would have proportionately less representation but might well have been (along with other small parties) in a position to decide whether we had Corbyn or Johnson as PM ” I don’t agree with that the majority of votes in the EU elections went to parties that said they would never… Read more »

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

What do the EU elections have to do with it?

Yes, you can get government implementing policies that most electors don’t agree with under any electoral system. However under our system, the government does have to have a large degree of support even if it’s not the majority. Under PR systems, you can get policies implemented that were in the manifestos of parties voted for by only a small proportion of the electorate.

David
Guest
David

They were done under PR and there was no majority for parties supporting Corbyn. Therefore if the general election had been done under PR it is unlikely there would have been a majority for him there. Anyway I think we should agree to differ. All I want is the chance to vote on whether to keep FPTP or go to a PR system – not AV – which is not PR.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

As you are no doubt aware, the EU elections are not to elect a government. They have no relevance.

At the more recent GE, it could well have been the case that minority parties would have put Labour in power under a PR system, having extracted concessions on their hobby-horses (like another Scottish referendum and cancelling Brexit) which are opposed by most of the electorate. This would then have left Labour free to implement its socialist policies that less than a third of the electorate voted for.

David
Guest
David

No one voted for the Maastricht treaty and we got that. All systems can give policies which people don’t vote for. So you are comparing PR against a perfection that does not exist.

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

I’m making no such comparison, as I have made perfectly clear.

There are many things that a government does that people did not vote for. Events, dear boy, events.

In fact, the Maastricht treaty wasn’t passed in parliament until after the 1992 election and these was a section on the treaty in the Conservative manifesto. Labour said nothing about it.

David
Guest
David

“This would then have left Labour free to implement its socialist policies that less than a third of the electorate voted for.”
In 2005 Labour got less votes than the Tories in England but more seats. In 1970 the Tories got 7% less votes than Labour but more seats. In 1974 the Tories got more votes than Labour but less seats.
In all case the second party in terms of votes won – this is not a good system.
(It is possible that Labour wouldn’t have taken into the EEC in 1970).

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

This is principally down to unequally sized constituencies and this should be addressed by boundary changes.

Quentin Vole
Guest
Quentin Vole

This 1988 Economist article by popper covers much of the same ground in its section on PR.

apols if you’re already well aware of this 🙂

HJ777
Guest
HJ777

Thanks for that. No, I hadn’t read it before.

Karl Popper is good company to keep. I’m not completely convinced that our current voting system is the best possible, but my point is that all systems have flaws and PR is not the panacea that some make it out to be – it has flaws of its own and it is certainly not clear that it is superior.

Pat
Guest
Pat

FWIW PR seems to result in coalitions formed by politicians for politicians. If it’s good for politicians it’s in the coalition agreement, otherwise it’s not.
What coalition in Parliament would have got Brexit done?

David
Guest
David

Under PR would Heath have won in 1970 and taken us in?

jgh
Guest
jgh

Exactly HJ777’s point! AV is not PR, I support PR (well, not exactly, I prefer small STV), and I voted against AV.

BlokeInTejas
Guest
BlokeInTejas

As noted, all systems have pluses and minuses.

What I rather like about first past the post is that it seems to lead more often to majority governments.

Who can “do what they want”. This has the wonderful result that if they screw up (if!), you, the voter on the local bus, know who dunnit. And can punish them by voting for t’others next time.

The continual churn of hundreds of minor parties fafing around with the government-of-the-day alliances – you have no idea who to back next time – if, that is, you are interested in *results* rather than woke nonsense.

Phoenix44
Guest
Phoenix44

Or you get the permanent stagnation of fixed coalitions, as happened in Austria, which arguably has led to a rise in extremist politics.

Gavin Longmuir
Guest
Gavin Longmuir

Since every form of “democratic” representation has its faults, the obvious requirement is to reduce the scope and authority of central government. That way, whichever minority happens to be in the cat-bird seat right now will be very constrained in what it can do.

There is also a lot to be said for requiring super-majorities in parliament — 60% vote of representatives required to pass a law, but only 40% vote required to repeal a law. That would keep the bastards busy!

BlokeInTejas
Guest
BlokeInTejas

Yep, that too.

Phoenix44
Guest
Phoenix44

Special pleading when a government does something she doesn’t like. It’s pretty pathetic stuff, and if her excuse is the “lies” of the referendum campaign, we all know which side she thinks lies.

john77
Guest
john77

The most important argument against PR is that the MP is chosen to represent his/her constituency not his/her party. PR results in a list of MPs chosen by party officials in a smoke-filled room (cannabis instead of tobacco these days) instead of by the voters.
It has been a disaster in Israel.

Michael van der Riet
Guest
Michael van der Riet

I think that the electoral list is an excellent way for the party bosses to make a bit of money on the side, which compensates them for their noble self-sacrifice.

NDReader
Guest
NDReader

PR/STV does not use a Party List in general. In the elections to the NI Assembly, I can rank my vote jumping from one party to another and leaving out some candidates altogether. we vote for candidates, not for parties.
I share your disdain for the party list system that is a component of both the Scottish and Welsh elections.

john77
Guest
john77

I was specifically referring to PR with a party list and I agree that STV is less bad. However I still think that it has significant disadvantages and there are complaints about people gaming the system.

Chester Draws
Guest
Chester Draws

PR works for small countries. They can’t support too many niche parties. But FPTP is effectively dictatorship as the MPs are too dependent on the leader.

PR in big countries leads to the proliferation of parties. That isn’t good for stable government. Instead they have more diversity inside each party — because they are so large.

Once size does not fit all.

(The issues with Israel and Italy aren’t really about PR or not. Their politics are going to be divided any system you use.)