There is a lot of what can be politely called “Bollocksology” coming from certain quarters in the UK election about the need for “strong” government. Let’s be clear about this: The United States and Germany, two of the richest, most sucessful countries in the world, both have constitutions designed to deliver “weak”, that is, restricted government. Nearly every English speaking state outside of Britain has recent experience of minority government or coalitions. The idea that anything other than a government with a majority in the House of Commons being a national distater is just plain dopey.
But let’s go further. What has the British system given the British people? Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Two people who left office despised by a majority of the British people (who never voted for them) having had certain policies thrust upon them by the Gary Glitter of voting systems, the most perverted of them all, First Past The Post. Supposing Thatcher or Blair had been elected under PR, restricted by the SDP or the Liberal Democrats. Would that really have been so bad?
What the opponents of PR (and “weak” government) really object to is the idea of a government needing to maintain the consent of the majority of the governed. The Tory mask slips when they talk about this, accepting that, in their current form, the British people would not vote for them if all their votes actually mattered.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Britain faces a massive public spending crisis which needs to be tackled by whomever wins on Thursday. Is it really that alien that the government that attempts this should try to bring at least half the people with it, as opposed to 35%?
The Liberal Democrats aren’t perfect. Listening to some of their activists yesterday, I was reminded how left wing some elements of the party are. But they are the key to getting a fair electoral system that would transform British Politics, introducing a government that actually has to listen, and for that alone, they’d get my vote on May 6th.