Respect Party Online

George Galloway Online

Salma Yaqoob Online

Published by Respect, PO Box 167, Manchester, M19 0AH. Powered by Blogger.
Wednesday, 23 March 2011


The electoral system for the election of the British parliament is grossly unfair. No party has received an absolute majority of the votes since the Second World War and yet parties have almost invariably received an absolute majority of seats and sometimes a huge majority. As time has gone on the difference between the votes received by parties and their seats has become more and more grossly disproportionate.

Now as part of a deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, we are to have a referendum nationwide on the electoral system on 5th May. However we are not being asked to vote to make the electoral system fairer. The proposal is that we either stick with the present system or change to a system which will benefit the Liberal Democrats without making the votes any more proportional than they are now.

In fact it has been estimated by experts that the new system that some are urging us to adopt would have made no difference to the results of the elections held in the last 30 years. In other words we would still have had Thatcher, Major and Blair with large majorities enabling them to do exactly what they wanted to do and messing the country up as a result.

The changes being proposed by the government are the product of a cynical attempt to benefit the government parties and nothing else. The Tories are reducing the number of seats in the Commons abolishing a lot of inner city seats held by Labour. The only reason for them to do this is to make it harder for Labour to win elections. And the Alternative Vote system is designed to boost the representation of the Liberal Democrats who are facing electoral oblivion at the next election because of the lies they told during the election and the promises they have broken in order to get their ministerial cars.

What is the Alternative Vote system. Instead of just placing a cross against the party or candidate you most prefer, under AV you will place candidate in order of preference. If no candidate has an absolute majority of votes in a constituency, the least popular candidate is eliminated and their votes redistributed according to second preference. That process continues until a candidate does have an absolute majority.

That makes it sound as though it is fairer but it isn’t, first of all it gives the opportunity for voters for the British National Party, for example, to decide who the MP will be. BNP candidates are likely to be eliminated at an early stage and all those BNP votes will then be transferred to other candidates, probably ensuring the election of that candidate. This will give a strong incentive for Conservative candidates in particular to make even more extreme anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements than they already are prone to do.

Anyway why should those who vote for fringe parties decide who are MP should be? The Liberal Democrats like this system of course because they think that Labour or Conservative voters will transfer to them to keep out, respectively the Conservative or Labour candidate. So they are hoping this will enable them to hold on to seats they would otherwise certainly lose at the next General Election.

The overall effect of the AV system is that there will still be a huge difference between the proportion of votes won by a party and the seats they win. So this system is just as unfair and in some circumstances more unfair than the present system. That is why we in the Respect Party unequivocally oppose its introduction and call on everyone to vote No in the referendum.

What we need in Britain is not AV but a properly proportional system of election. And we need changes electoral law to eliminate the fraud and malpractice that have undermined the integrity of the electoral system in Britain in recent years.

A properly proportional system will ensure that there is a much closer link between the votes won by a party and their representation in parliament. There are a variety of systems that will do this but Alternative Vote is not one of them. Perhaps the best is Single Transferable Vote which will give us multi-member constituencies and therefore enable voters to go to MPs who are properly sympathetic to their problems. At the moment if you face problems of racism or with the immigration authorities and you have a right wing Tory MP, you will not be properly represented. But if we had STV, there will almost certainly be a Respect or Labour MP who will take up your problems and fight for you to get justice.

A properly proportional system would have meant Thatcher would never have been Prime Minister smashing up the public sector, privatising everything in sight and making sure the rich got richer as the poor got poorer. And we would never have had Blair taking us into the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. Such a system is worth fighting for and we should reject AV because it does not go anywhere near producing proportionality and will almost certainly make it more difficult to get the change we really need.

We also need to get rid of the system of postal votes on demand which have seen the big parties signing up those most vulnerable to coercion and manipulation in order for them to hang on to their seats and power. Postal votes on demand are impossible properly to police and they are the greatest source of the fraud and abuse which has undermined our democracy.

Remember if we defeat the AV system in the referendum, the Condem coalition will almost certainly fall apart and we will then see the back of this appalling government which is cutting our services and throwing our young people, and many others on the dole.