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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Britain's Eurosceptics Need PR

Curious silence from blogging and tweeting Conservative MPs at Conference....

This from Douglas Carswell.

Wild conspiracy theories at a function last night about the lack of MPs blogging and tweeting in Manchester.
Was it a directive handed down from CCHQ to avoid any banana skins in conference week, someone asked me? Part of a pre-election clamp down to prevent folk going "off message", speculated another?
No. Alas, the lack of internet comment was due to something more mundane. Dodgy wifi connections


Surely not deliberate?

The Conference has left the eurosceptic wing totally turned off....that is 80% of the party. Hannan and Johnson have tried to keep hopes alive, but their jolly texts and words offering juicy sounding referendum hopes, no longer ring true. The season of hope for freedom lovers is sadly ending.

The media are threatening dire talk of Cameron's support leaving him if he turns to the right - i.e. they will clobber him with endless Bullingdon exposure, if he dares to go eurosceptic. And on cue, he's gone dead on all referendum promises.

The media are the gate-keepers. The Conservatives are stranded.

One way forward would be to use lateral thinking and go for Proportional Representation, as Brown is suggesting.

He imagines a Lib Dem/Labour coalition would emanate, keeping Conservatives at bay, and is proposing a PR referendum takes place at the same moment as the next general election. But would the result be as he (and the EU) imagine ?

In the EP elections, where 15 million votes were cast, eurosceptics outnumbered europhiles 2 to 1.

Conservative, UKIP, BNP, Green plus a host of others were 10 million votes to Lab, Lib Dem and SNP at 4.5 million.

These numbers open up possibilities for different eurosceptic electoral strategies.

If PR were to be introduced, I'd be in favour of a palace revolution inside the Conservative Party, as prescribed by Richard North on EU Referendum, as the party loyalty equation applies less forcefully as it does with FPTP.

Why do eurosceptics not do something unexpected, and back Brown's PR referendum?

And then set about building a withdrawalist coalition between a filtered Conservative Party made up of eurosceptics, UKIP, BNP, Greens and a host of others like English Democrats and so on?

That could bust open Britain's electoral system to produce a majority withdrawalist grouping in power, and finally get free of Brussels, Lisbon, Nice, Maastricht and all.

What are the arguments against?

See Proportional Representation In The UK? They'll Never Do It.

8 comments:

Edinburgh said...

Gordon Brown is NOT proposing any system of proportional representation. He has suggested the Alternative Vote, which is most definitely NOT a PR voting system.

The only sensible way forward is STV-PR.

tapestry said...

Thanks Edinburgh.

I guess Brown's realised that an AV system helps Labour.

But is it possible that the change might backfire, giving UKIP seats at Westminster.

How would it work?

Edinburgh said...

Not quite sure what you mean by your question "How would it work?".

AV uses preferential voting (!, 2, 3, etc) in single-member constituencies. So the present Westminster constituencies need not be changed - at least, not to accommodate AV.

The voters vote 1, 2, 3, etc. If no candidate has half or more of the first choice votes, the bottom candidate is excluded and the second choices on those ballot papers are added to the first choices for the remaining candidates. Repeat until one candidates has half or more of the votes.

AV would ensure that the MP elected for each constituency had majority support within the constituency. But that is all AV offers.

AV does not offer better overall proportionality. In some cases it may give a result that is less proportional than FPTP.

tapestry said...

thanks. bit complicated methinks.

i used to dead against PR.

But seeing how unable Cameron is unable to set out his stall re Lisbon, it might offer eurosceptics another way.

ScotsToryB said...

Your PR discussion is interesting but I fail to see where the Greens come into the euro sceptic side. They are nothing if not Marxists: a light reading of their last manifesto will confirm this.

They are europhiles to anongenderedthingy.

STB.

tapestry said...

Thanks Scots Tory B.

Greens not ideal coalition partners - a bit like in Germany.

The odd thing about PR is that minor parties are more easily ignored than under FPTP.

As long as the coalition is big enough, they are of little impact at all.

Under FPTP, the referendum party for example stopped the Euro in Britain by threatening the big tents.

Edinburgh said...

AV is not complicated. The voters mark their choices in the order of the personal preferences. The counting is straightforward - elimination from the bottom until one candidate has half or more of the votes.

STV-PR is not complicated for the voters either. With multi-member constituencies parties would nominate teams of candidates. The voters would mark their choices among ALL the candidates exactly as they wished. Most would vote by party, but even then they would put the party candidates in order within party. That's where the real voter choice comes in.

It is that feature of STV-PR that would allow voters to express their views on Euro-sceptic matters. They could put all the Euro-sceptic candidates before any of the pro-Europe candidates (or vice versa). Their preferred party would win its fair share of the constituency seats, but who filled those seats would have been decide by the voters who voted for that party.

And of course, the voters are not restricted to expressing Euro-sceptic views on the candidates within only one party - they can do the same across all the parities. Now that's voter power!

tapestry said...

So the AV system could backfire on Labour. Conservatives would possibly put UKIP as their second vote.

Complicated.

Cameron will need to work out a response to Brown AV referendum next May.

If he really wants to challenge Lisbon, he should abandon referendums on the treaty, and offer the nation PR.

That would

a. cap Brown's complicated AV offer.

And

b.it would ensure the Conservatives instantly became withdrawalist to head off UKIP.

The eurosceptic parties would hold 2/3s of the seats if the EP elections of 2009 are anything to go by.

c. If Britain withdraws from Europe, the issue would not cease, as there would be supporters of re-entry. UKIP would not be out of business.

Withdrawalists would become 'never agains'!