Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

The people have spoken.

Posted by Jason O on May 6, 2011 in AV Referendum May 5 2011, British Politics |

And they’ve said No to AV, as is their right. It’s a dark day for electoral reform, because although many on the Yes side will say that they voted against AV and not in favour of FPTP, a result is a result. In a national referendum, they voted to keep the status quo.

What now for the Lib Dems, for whom electoral reform is the golden calf? It’s a tough one, with the anti-reform Tories now surely emboldened to try to block reform where they can, by, say, dragging their feet on House of Lords reform.

I do hope that some academics do a study as to why people voted No. I’d love to know, for example, what proportion of both Yes and No voters actually understood AV. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing the old “the voters are stupid” card, because I’m not. But I do find it hard, coming from a PR background, to understand how people can vote for a voting system that can have such huge discrepancies between how people vote and the result. Does the average Brit know that, or maybe it just does not matter to them? Today’s result shows that the blunt instrument of FPTP is a system that a very substantial number of Brits are happy enough with, or at least, not bothered enough to change.

Yet, consider this future news broadcast: 

“…and if you’re just joining us here on Election 2015, the news is that despite winning over half the votes of the British people between them, the first government to do that since 1931, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has been ousted by Ed Miliband’s Labour party, despite Labour having received less votes than the coalition.”

I’d be outraged at such an outcome, but seemingly the average Brit wouldn’t be.

The one sliver of hope is that FPTP has within it the seeds of it’s own destruction, that with the growth of the SNP and UKIP and the Greens that eventually it will throw up a result so divorced from how the public voted that  it’ll force electoral reform back on the agenda.

And to my friends in the Yes campaigns, be strong. I remember the night of the Nice Treaty, when I realised that the majority of the people in the country I live in voted against the values I hold most dear. For the first time in my life, I was in a marked minority. I know what you’re feeling now, that aching vacuum of all that work and passion and hope. It hurts. But it will pass, I assure you. The morning does come. We have seen dark days of terrible despair. We’ve seen people told not to sit on lunch counters or sit at the front of the bus. Then we saw the son of a Kenyan immigrant elected President of the United States. Things change.    

When we lost Nice, we cried and despaired too. We licked our wounds, and learnt our lessons, and organised, and came back.

And we won the next time. 

2 Comments

david morris
May 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Shame you appear to have been sucked into the “mandate” thing.

Son of Marxist property millionaire, one Edward Miliband, has (on the instruction of his minders) also been wittering on electoral mandate, as in ” the Conservative led coalition is undertaking cuts and other actions for which they do not have a mandate”.

It seems strange of Miliband to complain about this. After all, was it not Liebour who allowed millions of migrants into the country without a mandate to do so? Was it not Liebour who signed the Lisbon Treaty without a mandate to do so? And where was Miliband’s petulant indignation about Labour’s lack of mandate when doing what it wanted, irrespective of the wishes of the public?

To emphasise the complete hypocrisy of it all, where was Miliband when a lawyer representing the Liebour government argued in court that people had no reasonable entitlement to expect that a political party will carry out its manifesto pledges? Did he resign in noble anguish after rending his Armani garments ? Did he hell as like.

This brings us back to the reality of the situation in the UK today. The electorate are merely pawns in the self serving power games of the rival factions of the political class, who spend their time fighting like rats in a sack about trivialities because when it comes to matters of substance they are in complete agreement.

The voting reform referendum is just another triviality. Another contrived battle of ‘principle’ helpfully played out as a major issue by the dumbed down mainstream media. What is the fricking point deciding how to vote when the votes themselves do nowt to determine which people wield power?

All AV would have done is further cement consensus politics. It would permanently shore up the elective position of the political class and further distance people from decision making power. First past the post is a lesser evil, but elections are now irrelevant anyway as laws are handed down from the EU for our toy politicians to burnish, embellish and implement without hesitation or demur.

The vote we should have, about whether this country should fully govern its own affairs through its own democratic structures, or accept rule from overseas by bureaucrats in Brussels and accept the EU’s alien anti democratic structures, was not on offer to us. We have been denied that choice.

None from the Tories, Liebour or Limp Dims want the pipple of the UK to decide for themselves and make that fundamental decision about how this country is governed. So why should the electorate play their game and take time to vote about which system best suits the narrow political interests of those symbiotic groups of power seeking climbers, liars and charlatans?

Kind regards


 
 

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