Monday, May 14, 2007

Voting reform: Pandora's ballot box

Just listened to an article on The World at One on Gordon Browns hinting at electoral reform (aka Ming - you'll form an coalition with me if it all goes pear shaped won't you).

It always seems to be assumed that voting reform would be good for the Left and not the Right.

Its even assumed it would be good for the Lib Dems - after all it is almost their holy grail as far as policy goes, based on narrow self interest dressed up an principle in my view.

But I think some of these may be lazy assumptions. Just look at the was PR has damaged the Lib Dems in Wales. The coalition building process potentially taints the parties concerned so much that none of them, except the two green MSP's in Scotland want to get involved.

Labour has lost its Scottish local government heartlands, maybe forever due to PR. Perhaps Gordon calculates that he would like to do the same for the Tory South.

But all political parties are essentially coalitions of people, formed to make common cause under a particular set of rules. Change the rules and the parties will change.

I doubt that any of the 3 main parties would survive wide spread PR intact.

Likely unexpected results would be Ethnic parties - like the BNP and Islamicists ( there is a Islamic party in Holland where one of the woman MP's only campaigns in mosques - she doesn't care what anyone else thinks ).

UKIP and the English Democrats would pick up defections. The SDP would ride again and Labour would just fragment.

So whatever Gordon Brown is planning it is more likely to be AV to keep the small parties out the consistency link. It is also likely to be fashioned for party political advantage.

In doing so he would make the case for a written constitution to stop this sort of gerrymandering.

But no one should think they can effectively fully calculate what the impact will be of opening Pandora's ballot box of electoral manipulation. The current voting patterns and parties are built on the current rules and assumptions. Change the rules and the patterns will change also.

My prediction - having just said how fool hardy such a thing is - is that the Lib Dems would be the surprise losers. What do you think ?

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