Monday, April 26, 2010

Arguments Against PR (and an extended dialogue on silly Green Party policies)

Is proportional representation really a good thing? I am sceptical. The problems I see are as follows:

1) Constant coalition. It is much more difficult (near on impossible?) for any one political party to win an overall majority. To my mind, this would not necessarily mean giving power to the people, as it is often argued PR would - every vote counts, and so on. At the moment, you vote for a candidate because you like their policies, or you really dislike opposition policies - that party then has a mandate to govern. About right so far? Under PR, no party wins, so no party has a mandate. Instead, policies are vetted by a process of ‘horse trading’, which the public is excluded from, during which politicians decide amongst themselves what policies to adopt and what to drop. Now, how is that more democratic? To me that sounds like a system laid open to corruption and destructive self interest.

2) No more local MPs. With FPTP you vote for a party, repsented by an individual - and you know who that person is before the election. With PR you vote for a party and then politicians decide who to install in what position, after the fact.

3) Smaller parties. Sure, the Green Party would have a seat, and I think that would be a good thing (Although, I am thoroughly disappointed by their 2010 manifesto. I thought they had moved beyond being a one issue party to a legitimate parliamentary force. But their recent manifesto seems to say otherwise. Granted I have not read the whole thing, and I will likely be pilloried (maybe rightly so) for throwing my hat in the ring when I don’t have all the facts. So be it. First, the Greens want to raise the national minimum wage to £8.10. Small and medium sized businesses would be crippled! Second, they want to introduce a non means tested £170 state pension. Yes, the state pension is too low but the Greens proposal to address this is to give much more money to poor and rich alike. Eh? Where is it going to come from? £116 billion in tax rises. I can’t help feeling this displays either stupidity, on their part, or contempt for the voting public. These policies are unenforceable, and very disappointing from a party that I thought was looking like an interesting, progressive alternative. Anyway, rant over and back on the other side of the bracket I’ll return to the subject of smaller parties getting seats under PR). The BNP would also have a seat or two, and do we really want that? That is all. Maybe it wouldn’t make a lot of difference. Who knows?

There are a couple of other arguments I can’t call to mind right now, but, is that a fair reflection of PR? Or have I completely missed the point?