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Thread: The British Politics Thread

  1. #1351
    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFire View Post
    I think you're overstating the capacity of the British public on looking at what issues the electorate use to base their votes on. I reckon if we did have a referendum on reforming the voting system, there would be a much higher percentage of people that were for the proportional representation system and voted for Lib Dems.
    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    People may have voted for conservative due to other issues which they felt more strongly about, but they still may agree with lib dems on this one issue. Surely there must be polls out that answer this question on whether people want electoral reform?
    The LibDems have had this type of reform as a cornerstone of their policies for a long time. The Conservatives (and Labour) have not.

    If it was such an important issue (which it clearly is to some) and as its such an important issue for the LibDems then people have had adequate chance to vote in favour of it already. They didnt.

    We vote for packages of policies. People had their chance to vote on this issue. If other issues were more important to them and that meant that they voted for a different party then it shows that this doesnt rank high in the priority of the British public and not worthy of a referendum.

    Referendums should be seldom, if ever, used. Certainly not for a policy that, as you both said, was not important enough for people to change their vote over and certainly not for issues where the supporting party is the weakest of the 3 mainstream parties.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pothas View Post
    I do understand your point though that they should be focussing on other issues in order to secure a deal, especially when they are so unlikely to get what they want from the Conservatives. However it is important to understand that for many Lib Dems the only way they can see themselves ever ceasing to be a distant third is by getting a change in a system that undeniably is biased against the emergence of a third party. It is a horrible dilemma for them and I do not think there is a satisfactory answer to it.
    I appreciate I just pulled this out of a post that had other points but the fact the LibDems feel hard done by and therefore want change isnt really a good enough reason. Of course they want change for their own benefit. Regarding the emergance of a 3rd party. The 2010 proportion of the vote was the same as in 92 and less than in 87. This isnt really a new discussion. Just become more fashionable. The 3rd party has been emerging for close to 30 years and isnt making gains.

    Id be in favour of looking at election reform if there were real signs that the system was broken. It isnt PR and to look at the numbers and see a difference between vote and representation ignores the act that it isnt designed to do that.

    If the LibDms had a greater proportion of the vote than Labour and got far less seats then Id be willing to listen to arguments for change. That is certainly possible and could illustrate the system has flaws. However, it didnt and essentially, in every election the party that finished 1st in proportion of the vote got the most seats, 2nd got the 2nd most and 3rd got the 3rd most seats and while the hung Parliament right now is not ideal it is superior to what would occur under PR.

    EDIT- Just to note, I have never voted in an election or been a member of any political party. Im not saying this in defense of any group.
    Last edited by Goughy; 09-05-2010 at 04:02 PM.
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  2. #1352
    International Coach Pothas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goughy View Post

    We vote for packages of policies. People had their chance to vote on this issue. If other issues were more important to them and that meant that they voted for a different party then it shows that this doesnt rank high in the priority of the British public and not worthy of a referendum.

    Referendums should be seldom (if ever used.) Certainly not for a policy that, as you both said, was not important enough for people to change their vote over and certainly not for issues where the supporting party is the weakest of the 3 mainstream parties.
    As I said though this is not really an issue of simple policy, it is a constituional matter about how to choose a government. This is the sort of thing we have had referendums on in the past (EU, Scotish and Welsh devolution for example)

    It is for this reason far more than just because the Liberal democrats support it that I think we need one.

    As fo the Lib Dems specifically as I say they are simply in a horrible position.

  3. #1353
    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    I worry about the balance of power going to parties with a low share of the vote, under PR. Of course, that could well happen this year.
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  4. #1354
    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pothas View Post
    As I said though this is not really an issue of simple policy, it is a constituional matter about how to choose a government. This is the sort of thing we have had referendums on in the past (EU, Scotish and Welsh devolution for example)

    It is for this reason far more than just because the Liberal democrats support it that I think we need one.

    As fo the Lib Dems specifically as I say they are simply in a horrible position.
    You are right, this is a constitutional matter and not a new one. It just seems very fashionable right now. It isnt about 2010 or the LibDems. As I recall, 1955 was the last time a winning party got more votes than the 2nd and 3rd place parties combined. This isnt a new issue. If you want to see the system in all its supposed 'failed glory' then 1987 was a far better example than 2010. There is nothing particularly interesting or unique about the showing of the LibDems in 2010 and nothing the illustrates problems in the system to show it is newly broken.

    The talk of a third party is exaggerated in so much as there has always been a 3rd party to some extent that would completely change the system in PR was introduced.


  5. #1355
    International Regular chris.hinton's Avatar
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    Lets hope that Cameron can do a deal soon

  6. #1356
    International Coach PhoenixFire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat View Post
    1) Had double pneumonia as a kid, as did my twin sis. Doctors told my parents to pray that we lived through the night. Dad said **** off, I'm an atheist, you ****s better save my kids, etc. Then prayed anyway.

  7. #1357
    International Coach Pothas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goughy View Post
    You are right, this is a constitutional matter and not a new one. It just seems very fashionable right now. It isnt about 2010 or the LibDems. As I recall, 1955 was the last time a winning party got more votes than the 2nd and 3rd place parties combined. This isnt a new issue. If you want to see the system in all its supposed 'failed glory' then 1987 was a far better example than 2010. There is nothing particularly interesting or unique about the showing of the LibDems in 2010 and nothing the illustrates problems in the system to show it is newly broken.

    The talk of a third party is exaggerated in so much as there has always been a 3rd party to some extent that would completely change the system in PR was introduced.
    Yeah it is nothing new, and the plight of the Social Democrats highlights it very well. The fact that it is not new I think strenghtens rather than weakens the case for debate over reform.

  8. #1358
    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pothas View Post
    Yeah it is nothing new, and the plight of the Social Democrats highlights it very well. The fact that it is not new I think strenghtens rather than weakens the case for debate over reform.
    Only if you assume there is a) a problem and if there is b) there are better alternatives

    I personally dont think there is but lets assume others do, I dont understand the risk of changing a system that has served the country well producing a succession of strong governments in favour of a system that could be so much worse for the country.

    Sure there are flaws but all systems are flawed. The question is how big are they and how does it negatively impact the country. With FFTP the answers are 'moderate' and 'little.' A move to PR is such a radical departure and the risks so great that I dont think it is wise.

    As for reform being discussed, it has been discussed throughly over the years. Its hardly a new idea or proposal but one that has always been rejected due to the alternative not being in the interests of the country as much as the present system.

    This brings us back to the original point. This is not a new idea and has been explored at length. If the people want reform and vote for a party that supports the idea then that is one thing. For old arguments to be rehashed and a referendum to be asked for by a party that finished 3rd in the election (in terms of both votes and seats) is madness.
    Last edited by Goughy; 09-05-2010 at 04:41 PM.

  9. #1359
    Hall of Fame Member Furball's Avatar
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    The main problem with FPTP is that it only really works in a 2 party system.

    It is shockingly undemocratic. Anyone in Glasgow or the sorrounding area who doesn't support Labour might as well never bother voting.

    edit: for me, the funniest thing about the electoral reform argument is ironically due to the voting system, in Scotland the fortunes of the Lib Dems and Tories would be reversed.
    Last edited by Furball; 09-05-2010 at 04:59 PM.

  10. #1360
    International Coach Pothas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goughy View Post
    Only if you assume there is a) a problem and if there is b) there are better alternatives

    I personally dont think there is but lets assume others do, I dont understand the risk of changing a system that has served the country well producing a succession of strong governments in favour of a system that could be so much worse for the country.

    Sure there are flaws but all systems are flawed. The question is how big are they and how does it negatively impact the country. With FFTP the answers are 'moderate' and 'little.' A move to PR is such a radical departure and the risks so great that I dont think it is wise.

    As for reform being discussed, it has been discussed throughly over the years. Its hardly a new idea or proposal but one that has always been rejected due to the alternative not being in the interests of the country as much as the present system.
    Obviously we are not going to agree and I do see where you are coming from but just a couple more points.

    Firstly I think an awful lot of people do think there is something wrong with current system, it basically fails at being democratic. Whether or not PR would be a good thing is a matter for debate, one which I feel we should have.

    Finally one can argue that the current system because it is in the interests of the country but just as an important motivation is because it is in the interest to the parties, this is why a party in power has never supported it.

  11. #1361
    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GingerFurball View Post
    The main problem with FPTP is that it only really works in a 2 party system.

    It is shockingly undemocratic. Anyone in Glasgow or the sorrounding area who doesn't support Labour might as well never bother voting.

    edit: for me, the funniest thing about the electoral reform argument is ironically due to the voting system, in Scotland the fortunes of the Lib Dems and Tories would be reversed.
    IMO, point 1 isnt true. FFTP the post works to create strong governments in systems where there are more that 2 parties. Thats actually where it is most useful. No party has got 50+% of the vote since 1931. As I pointed out earlier in the thread, Britain has never had a 2 party system. FFTP works in that usually the party with the most votes wins the election and gets to form a government and that the voters know what they are getting without endless horsetrading that is found in PR systems. It is an extremely useful system where there is more that 2 parties.

    IMO, point 2 isnt true either. A vote represents an vote for a candidate or party. There is nothing undemocratic about another candidate or party getting far more votes. I originally come from a Labour stronghold and if I vote for 'Other Party X' and lose then there is nothing wrong with that as more people vote for them. That is democracy. The whole 'Power of the Vote' or whatever severely misunderstands what a vote is. Each vote is worth 1. The idea that every single vote must turn an election is flawed. The idea that its not worth voting for another party in Glasgow because of the strength of Labour may not be ideal depending on your political bent but the idea that more people wanting a candidate and them getting it is hardly undemocratic. I understand the idea behind this argument but I believe it to be based on fundamentally flawed principles.

  12. #1362
    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pothas View Post
    Firstly I think an awful lot of people do think there is something wrong with current system, it basically fails at being democratic. Whether or not PR would be a good thing is a matter for debate, one which I feel we should have.
    Well we are debating it and it has been debated for generations and I accept there are people that think the current system has flaws. Something I dont disagree with. There are lots of things I think are flawed in politics that work eg FPTP, the US Presidency, the US Senate, HoL, constitutional role of the Queen etc.

    But lets take the undemocratic aspect. Maybe Ill get a better feel and appreciation of it if you lay that out for me and we can take it from there.
    Last edited by Goughy; 09-05-2010 at 05:29 PM.

  13. #1363
    cpr
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    My failings with PR:

    Each region has its own make up, and wants to give their own candidate to reflect that, such as Sylvia Hermon in Down North (independant) and Naomi Long in Belfast East (Alliance)..... Neither of them would have got into a PR decreed parliament, on the grounds neither of them recieved enough of the vote nationally (alliance took 42,000 seats in total IIRC, would need 70,000 approx per seat nationally). These two area's, coincidently next door to each other, have rejected the main parties in favour of somone who will represent them (Hermon stood out from her old ticket on UUP), yet under PR they would lose that voice. That to me is not exactly making PR more democratic.

    Further to this, other regional parties would lose out dramatically. As each region returns approx the same no of MP's per head, parties that only represent the regional needs, such as UUP, SNP, Plaid Cymru etc have a disadvantage. Labour/Cons/Lib dem can take a percentage of the vote in Wales/Scotland etc, but they cant in the English constituencies, so they appear less supported in comparison.

    Under PR, you get 10% of the national vote, you get 10% of the seats. If you've got approx 5-15% vote in each constituency, then in my eyes, the popular opinion everywhere in the country is they don't agree with you. The vast majority of people everywhere reject your policies and do not want you as their representative. Why should you, rejected by the majority everywhere, take seats off the likes of Long, Hermon, Plaid Cymru etc who are chosen by an area to represent them?

    PR works in a system where everything is decided centrally, and everyone has the same interests. That is not the case in the UK, each region has its own problems and agenda's, and needs it's own voices to speak. Any electoral reform in my eyes cannot hinder this, as it'd have serious repercussions for our political system.

    I know i'm not arguing this too well, but it is late n all, i'll just refer you back to my huge rant about this at Uppercut the other week
    Last edited by cpr; 09-05-2010 at 05:33 PM.
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  14. #1364
    International Coach Pothas's Avatar
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    Well the most basic problem is that we are have 'represenataive' democracy but FPTP clearly does not represent the will of the electorate - one just has to look at the fact that the Liberal democrats polled 23% of the vote and got less than 10% of the seats.

    Then there are of course a host of other issues, the fact that someone can get elected to a seat say 30% of the vote, the fact that a huge amount of peoples votes are wasted and that it creates safe seats.

    One can make the case that this is a price worth paying for strong government (I myself an slighlty unsure) but I think it is hard to say that it is satisfactory in representative terms.

  15. #1365
    International Coach Pothas's Avatar
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    PR obviously has many problems, and in regards to cpr's point there would have to be some form of geographical representation.

    My basic point is not that PR is necessarily better but there are legitimate grounds for a public debate and a referendum on a change in the voting system.



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