PR man Cameron needs some PR help

Never thought the day would come, but ex-PR man David Cameron needs some PR help.
PR of the proportional representation kind, of course. He’s under the delusion that first past the post ‘works for the people of Britain.’
Well, Mr Cameron, it clearly didn’t work for the 64 per cent of the people of Britain who voted for a candidate not wearing a red rosette last time round. Nor the 57 per cent who never voted for his beloved Margaret Thatcher.
Cameron claims fair votes leads to backroom deals and ‘behind closed doors’ decision-making. And this is different to the current system how, exactly? The Parliamentary whip, the party line, would all be broken down were prime ministers forced to reach across party lines. Flights of fancy like the poll tax and the Iraq War would be much harder to pull off. Backbenchers would be beholden to the public, not the party machine.
Even the US, with its primary elections and the checks and balances provided by Congress achieve many of the same goals Cameron seems to keen to avoid. Ronald Reagan managed to govern with a Democratic congress. Does Cameron lack the confidence to try to lead Liberal Democrats to his way of thinking?
Low marks also for Ed Balls, the schools secretary, who trotted out the lie that PR reduces the link between the MP and his/her constituncy. If you follow the model imposed by Labour for Euro elections, he might just have a point.
But using a single tranferable vote, candidates are forced – absolutely forced – to work their consituency for all it’s worth. In a system where you have to compete with representatives of your own party for the public’s vote, you simply can’t afford to be a carpet-bagger. Why a Norfolk-born, Harvard-educated former FT leader-writer representing a former coal-mining community in Yorkshire should find this prospecy unappealing is…. well, draw your own conclusions.
And finally, proving Godwin’s Law once and for all, we have Norman Tebbit. He cites PR as a factor in bringing the Nazis to power. Not for the first time in his life, he’s talking out of his rear end. A quick look at the figures shows that the highest vote the Nazis ever polled was 37 per cent – keeping them in opposition under PR, but the kind of figure that hasn’t lost a British election in three decades. In fact, PR served, at least briefly, to keep Hitler in check and ultimately forced him to use undeomcratic means to seize power.
PR is, along with the economy, the key issue of this election. We can’t, in Mr Cameron’s words, go on like this. It’s time to join the grown-up world and give everyone a vote that’s worth something.


One thought on “PR man Cameron needs some PR help

  1. Absolutely right, Steve, particularly on Mr Balls.

    But in some areas you could stick a red rosette on a turd and people would still vote for it.

    Looking at the majority Balls has enjoyed in the last few elections, I struggle to see how STV would prevent him still getting in. Presumably it would depend on the size of the constituency, whether the boundaries changed to encompass some Tory areas and the number of competing Labour MPs.

    I think STV would certainly encourage a rise in independents, though, which can only be a good thing.

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