Party politics is messy

Therefore we must have proportional representation:

I confess that as a student I saw how when engaged in politics those you could trust the least were always on your own side. That heavily informed my decision to observe but stay out of party politics. I suspect the rise of single issues campaigning has been the consequence of many others making the same observation. But some chose the political path knowing that risk, and today they govern this country. Except one has to wonder for how much longer that might be the case.

It is apparent that Labour is not a happy place.

Now it is more than apparent that the same is true in the Conservatives.

The LibDems look life expired and the time will come when the SNP will fight internally: it is inevitable.

But that means we need a political system that reflects the reality of division within the country. The politics we have can longer support the uniformity of opinion that first part the post demands.

Why, oh why, can’t we now liberate debate with a proportional representation system? Its time has come.

Because of course replacing first past the post with party list PR entirely stops that sort of internal subterfuge, doesn’t it? You know, like the MEP lists and elections do?

31 thoughts on “Party politics is messy”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Some people do not want to be free. They want to be ruled efficiently, scientifically and despotically. They do not like the give and take of a free society.

    There is nothing to be done with these people.

  2. SMFS: case in point, those two ghastly brats telling Andrew Neil that the government should tell people what to do if it’s for ‘their own good’…

  3. Thus we find that the “professor” of political economy does not understand “politics” to go along with his utter bafflement in economics. There is an entire literature on how this stuff actually works in political science.

    City University – the place that employs morons to lecture their undergrads…

  4. Single issues are best dealt with in referenda; the Swiss set an excellent example. Gubbmint whether chosen by FPF or PR is a sweaty cynical exercise, doing least damage when it is confined to its core functions of protecting its borders, its citizens and their property.

  5. I seem to remember we voted on it. For all Murphy’s banging on about People’s this and that, he doesn’t seem to actually want to listen to the people, does he?

  6. The UK electorate don’t seem to like coalitions much, if the kicking they gave to the Lib Dems for entering one with the Tories and not subsequently managing to enact every single one of their pre-coalition policies is anything to go by.

  7. People are sick of the political scum and economically the end of the road is looming.

    The polits know it and are making police state moves to try and grab and hang on to power.

    PR solves nothing. Smashing down politics to 1% of its present size is what is needed.

  8. JuliaM – “SMFS: case in point, those two ghastly brats telling Andrew Neil that the government should tell people what to do if it’s for ‘their own good’…”

    and people express wonderment that kids shopped their parents to the Stasi

  9. Having smaller and ideologically purer parties, representing narrower interest groups, would hardly eliminate in-party feuding since there’s always going to be competition for the top job. But it might reduce internecine warfare – at least internal policy wrangling, if not clashes of overblown personas. It just replaces that with inter-party arguments during coalition government, though.

    If you want politics without bickering then you really require a strong one-party system with a clear “party line” that can be neither questioned nor deviated from. Failing that, pols will squabble – that’s more or less what they get paid for.

  10. “Having smaller and ideologically purer parties, representing narrower interest groups, …it might reduce internecine warfare”

    I don’t think so. Ideologically pure parties are filled with fanatics, convinced they are true believers and that even the smallest deviation is heresy. They get dragged towards even more lunacy as a result, and the fighting is bitter.

    Whereas coalitions of people with fairly similar views are not in it for the ideology but for power. They know they sink or swim in the same boat.

  11. We didn’t vote on PR, ATV is not PR. The good thing about PR is that makes it a lot easier for new entrants to come into the market. In Denmark and Holland a party can go from nothing to Government very easily. Everyone in the UK thinks this good for supermarkets why not politics?

  12. “The good thing about PR is that makes it a lot easier for new entrants to come into the market. In Denmark and Holland a party can go from nothing to Government very easily”

    Name a radical party that has made it into government on PR, and got any of its radical policies enacted. All PR gets you it seems is a bunch of very similar middle of the road parties that fight elections on very similar manifestos and then rip them up in smoke filled rooms after the vote in order to get into power.

    Its no more democratic than FPTP. Under FPTP at least some people get what they voted for, under PR no-one does, and the politicians have all the power to decide exactly what coalition is formed. If it was to be truly democratic a coalition formed after a General Election should have to then be ratified in a referendum. Otherwise it has zero mandate to act in the way it does, because no-one voted for that combination of policies.

  13. Further to Jim. PR invariably results in a weak government which spends all it’s time politicking to remain in power. Because Nature abhors a vacuum, this opens wide the door for a strong bureaucracy, unaccountable and unelected, as in the manner of the EU. Not a good thing.

  14. So, don’t replace FPTP with party list PR, replace it with something else, something that puts the choice in the hands of the voter, not the hands of the party bosses.

    Nick Clegg shot himself in the foot by being corralled into a referendum on AV, the worse non-FPTP electoral system you can find. He should have observed the Scottish LibDems and ignored Parliamentary reform and instead pushed out STV for council elections (and probably Euros) and let that get bedded in and people used to it. Then in the future that would create a ground base of familiararity for future Parliamentary reforms.

    The Clegg leadership ignored decades of LibDem localism and obsessed with Parliamentary and central government, killing off its local base in the process.

  15. “those you could trust the least were always on your own side.” – that’s because he lined up with untrustworthy scum who wanted to take the largesse dispensed by Beveridge and use it to destroy his legacy. Having been involved in politics before I became a student, I worked with those who were trustworthy (and we gently marginalised those we did not trust so that they could not unduly influence policy).

    We have seen how PR enables an extremist group like Shas with just two or three members of the Knesset to dictate to a power-hungry minority party when there is no majority.
    With PR, Neil Hamilton would still be MP for Tatton (before anyone cheers, GO would have got a different seat).
    I/We *could* devise a fair Alternative system to FPTP but that would require giving more weight to first preference than second preferenence than third preference.

  16. jgh

    The basic point is that if we moved to any other form of elections, we’d still end up with coalitions. All party politics is a calition building game where we try to capture the median voter (median being the 50th percentile). We then have rules that prevent the tyranny of the majority (written or unwritten constitutions). The present UK system encourages two party politics, with broad churches. The PR fanatics do not really understand that changing from FPTP might not change that much or might change in radical ways depending on the system put in place. Extreme PR with no minimum threshold does tend to place a lot of power in the hands of extremist parties – as their voting power increases dramatically as coalitions try to put together a majority. As I said it’s an area widely studied in political science.

  17. ken, could you point me in the direction of some useful studies?

    I am sick of never having a candidate I actually want. By the time I get to vote in the presidential primaries other voters have handed me a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

  18. “So, don’t replace FPTP with party list PR, replace it with something else, something that puts the choice in the hands of the voter, not the hands of the party bosses.”

    Thats the last thing politicians want, so none of them of any hue would ever suggest or allow it.

    Heaven forfend, the masses might actually get what they wanted, against the wishes of the liberal establishment and we can’t have that now can we?

  19. Yes David, it’s a great thing that small parties can start up and have their policies enacted under PR. Like in Israel where noajornparty can form a government without having to bring in some nut job religious fundamentalist who will sink that government the moment it dearest breathe a pragmatic sentiment.

    Yes David, we want PR on the UK so we can pilory the junior partner in a coalition because they “broke their promises”.

    Yes David, because we like to parrot pious sentiments revealed preferences show we don’t really believe.

  20. I’m not sure if anyone uses it but I quite like the adaption to MMP that is mentioned here every now and again. Keep everything as it currently is in NZ, with electorate MPs and list MPs making up the numbers to ensure proportionality; but change who decides on the list MPs. Instead of this being a party decision you put it into the hands of the electorate by ordering it by “best loser”. Effectively the list order is decided upon by percentage of electorate votes – and if you need people from the list to make up numbers then you start from the top down.

    This would stop much of the current problems with PR where MPs are answerable only to their parties as whether they are in or not depends more on the list than anything else.

  21. To have PR without party lists, elect MPs on FPTP, but weight their votes in Parliament by the party’s national vote.

    So a Tory MP would count as about two thirds of a vote, Labour MPs would have almost a whole vote each, and the SNP about a half vote each. LibDems would have about 6 votes each, and Douglas Carswell would have 80 votes all to himself.

    It might have the minor advantage of teaching our representatives some basic maths.

    If you want to encourage new parties, also bring in the leaders of minor parties as non-geographic MPs, carrying all their party’s votes. Leader only, as they’re the only people from minor parties that anyone knows.

    If you want to really open it out, apply that to any party that got no MPs but got at least 1/650th of the national vote (enough for the equivalent of 1 seat). Oddly the only difference that rule would have made in 2015 was the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland would have got a seat (although of course the voting pattern could change completely under a different system).

  22. So Much For Subtlety

    Parties should be forbidden to raise money. Candidates should be forced to stand for one of two sides in an American style open primary. State funding, if any, and all appropriate funding laws ought to be focused on the individual. The actual election would come down to a choice of two.

    jgh – “Nick Clegg shot himself in the foot by being corralled into a referendum on AV, the worse non-FPTP electoral system you can find.”

    Not likely. The Lib-Dem voters would have been filled with rage. They thought they were going to have power again. If Clegg had allowed a single election to go by without a choice on some form of proportion they would be bleating about how his missed his chance.

    What has killed the Lib-Dems is responsibility. They were the Party of hating all the sensible choices and striking a fatuous vacuous moral stand. Once Clegg entered into coalition he had to make choices. He had to vote for real policies. The Lib-Dem voters hated that. They wanted empty gestures.

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    Ironman – “Yes David, because we like to parrot pious sentiments revealed preferences show we don’t really believe.”

    Indeed. Who wants to bet Rusty has no Vibrant neighbours at all?

  24. I like the idea of having a runoff election. In the first round you vote for whichever wingnut you fancy. The top two finishers go forward to a straight head-to-head. This would, at least, get rid of tactical voting in the first round with the advantage that the least palatable candidate would fall at the second. It might shake up all of those safe seats too.

    This wouldn’t for a second get us around the problem alluded to in Tim’s original post, but it might make it easier to sack the bastards that we don’t want.

  25. How about an amended version of the US system where the executive is elected with FPTP and a manifesto to get shit done on an operational level but a representative commons so that new laws have to get consensus.

    I think the US system is theoretically elegant, but fucked up by the two-party system and absurd law-making process. And Americans.

  26. SMFS

    “Vibrant neighbours” will be another of your racist euphemisms then. You Thick.Racist.Prick.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    Ironman – ““Vibrant neighbours” will be another of your racist euphemisms then. You Thick.Racist.Prick.”

    So that would be a “no” then

  28. Yes PR. Such as Portugal, where the biggest issue dominating the economy is the choice of currency. Where the party thay came second d in the election (by some way) tries to form a government with minor parties thay have a diametrically oposing view on that single most important issue. So voters’ wishes get respected through PR do they?

  29. How about an amended version of the US system where the executive is elected with FPTP and a manifesto to get shit done on an operational level but a representative commons so that new laws have to get consensus.

    Why do we need a “representative commons” at all? Have elections for a few dozen ministerial appointments (with voter recall at any time), and any legislation they come up with to be ratified in a referendum (ie, common assent before going for royal assent.)

    There’s just no need nowadays for a remote parliament making the decisions on our behalf.

  30. “I think the US system is theoretically elegant, but fucked up by the two-party system and absurd law-making process. And Americans.”

    The checks and balances in the US system are set up fairly well overall. If only we didn’t have those pesky humans voting for a candidate based on the letter behind the name.

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