Saturday 14 June 2014

What Price Democracy?

According to one politics commentator, who has been trying to run the figures, the UK, or what may be left of it, could be heading for a "perfect storm" in the coming election of 2015. The article is longish but readable and surveys the past.

The votes will not deliver either the government or the politics that we may really want in democratic terms.  As the article shows, this has happened all too often in the past.  This time round the implications could be worse.

In short since around 1950 the distortions between the voting and the first past the post system have sometimes delivered uncertain and even perverse results.

Additionally, after 1950 parties with substantial support, if that was widespread rather than concentrated in any area, would be left with very few seats or influence at the centre.

This has been the immediate political effect.  But there have been other effects of the imbalances in the system.  In many industrial areas dominated by Labour, their Conservative voters had little or no representation in Parliament.  In Conservative areas, their Labour voters also did not.

So in the two party "system" in the House of Commons, Labour was not in balance and nor were the Conservatives.  Worse still was the pork barrel effect in those constituencies that were marginal.  Money would be flung at them by both parties sometimes almost regardless of cost or the economic effects.

Add to this the trend to politics being dominated by limited elements of professional political agencies, media and limited access groups and you have further imbalances that remove government almost entirely from real activity or communities.

Also a political class that has dumped the old British Constitution for a set of mutually advantageous fixes to create a state where democracy does not exist in reality and government and that does not reflect the voter's wishes but those of contending corporate, agency or lobby groups.

So we have government of and by minorities, for minorities and against the wishes of any majority of the increasingly few who do vote or attempt to take an interest in politics.

Historically, this can result in a slide into disintegration, dictatorship or quasi-monarchy.

1 comment:

  1. I think first past the post is well past it's sell-by date, but unfortunately we didn't grasp the AV nettle in 2011.

    So yes, 2015 may not deliver what we want and could even deliver a very perverse result indeed - as your link speculates.