What we get with ‘first past the post’ in a multi-party democracy is – division. David Cameron has claimed he will ‘govern for all the people’, well is that true?
6 out of 10 voters cast votes against austerity (which many commentators regard as unnecessary and likely to extend the recession). What will we get? increased austerity.
1.3 in 10 voted for a referendum on Europe. What will we get? A divisive, anti-business, nationalistic referendum.
The Labour Party increased its share of the vote by 1.5% and lost 26 seats overall. The Conservative Party increased its share of the vote by 0.8% and gained 24 seats. What all this means is not easy to assess except that we have a badly broken political system that can deliver ‘strong government’ that the majority have voted against. This didn’t happen in the past when there was effectively a two-party system but the polity (us) is more sophisticated now, (you may wish to disagree!).
Today, approximately 300k voters have no-one representing them and nearly 25% of voters across the UK are represented in Parliament by just 1.5% of MP’s. We may not like the policies of some of those parties ( I don’t) but they have a right to be heard. For, when people feel they have no voice they shout louder – and louder and if still they are not heard they kick over the bins – or worse.
What do the voiceless do when faceless bureaucracy stifles them? Are street riots justified? Not in my book but as one of nearly a million people who marched non-violently in London against the Iraq war I feel I have the right to ask, ‘how can we be heard?’ If David Cameron genuinely wishes to govern for all the people he will recognise his limited mandate. He won’t, because he can’t. The principal beneficiaries of ‘first past the post’ have always been the Tories who have the advantage of controlling most of the media. The Labour Party got this election dreadfully wrong by allowing the Liberal Democrats and Tories to get away with the lie about the economic competence of the Blair/Brown administration. If Osborne shrinks the state and continues with austerity it is churches and voluntary groups that will pick up the pieces as they already are doing. Who will they blame in two years time when our economy continues to stagnate because of low wages and lower aspirations.