...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 3068: Mr Balloon versus Electoral Reform. He jumps on the bandwagon… but can we keep hold of the steering?


Mr Balloon writes for the Grauniad about his wish for "progressive conservatoryism", which is as bad an oxymoron as DYNAMIC INERTIA or CARING CANNIBALISM.

Mr Mark Reckons, supported by the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere and Mr Clogg in Parliament has really set a ball rolling. Like ALL the best ideas, it looks really simple and obvious once you see it:

Safe seats equal Sleazy Seats.

Mr Mark told Pollyanna who wrote it in the Grauniad, and Pollyanna told Minister Ben who said it on Questionable Time. And now there's real popular support for reform.

Hmmm, "popular", here comes Mr Balloon.

In his FULL STATEMENT (thought ODDLY, not – it appears – in his bit in the Grauniad) he says:
"But it is also why a Conservative Government will not consider introducing proportional representation."
He claims that his "principle" is "redistributing power… from the powerful to the powerless."

So why won't he address the MOST IMPORTANT issue? Conservatory voters in Hard Labour safe seats are POWERLESS – and Mr Balloon would IGNORE THEM.

All the things that he says he wants – an accountable Parliament, a curbing of the executive, power for the INDIVIDUALS – all these things DEPEND on the Government not having a GUARANTEED MAJORITY in Parliament.

The power of the individual voter means NOTHING if the Government has enough MPs to overrule the House without argument. If the individual voter is to HAVE power, then their representative in Parliament, the person they can write to and talk to, has to have the power to make a difference in a vote.

If you want Parliament to curb the power of the executive, then Parliament has GOT to have the power to say NO. The executive WON'T curb itself. Just look at the way Mr Oboe has said that local government will only get the money to freeze the Council Tax if they do exactly what he says.

If you want Parliament to be ACCOUNTABLE then people have to have a REAL choice; they have to know that when the vote their vote will be counted. And Parliament has to know that the way it votes will be counted in return, so people can make a judgement on how well Parliament has controlled the Government.

Mr Balloon claims that a proportional system would put power in the fluffy feet of "political elites" – "shadowy deals" where coalitions are sorted out in "smoke filled rooms". Exactly like what happens in Scotland… oh, hang on, that's an UTTER LIE, Mr Balloon. What he means is that a proportional system wouldn't put power in the fluffy feet of HIS political elite.

At the moment, voters have a choice of precisely TWO coalitions – either (a) the one between Lord Blairimort's Christian Autocrats, the old fashioned we'd-do-anything-for-power Socialists, and Mr Frown's Middle-Management Incompetence Party; or (b) the one between the Clean-My-Moat Aristocrats, the Planet Vulcan Neo-Cons and Mr Balloon's Playing Fields of Eton Incompetence Party.

A PROPORTIONAL system would break up the old Party MONOLITHS. It's no guarantee of a Liberal in the coalition (again see Scotland or Wales), but it IS a guarantee that the Government would have to LISTEN to Parliament again.

No one ACTUALLY voted for the Middle-Eastern War and Abolish Tuition Fees Party, but that's what we got. No one ACTUALLY voted for the Poll Tax Party, but that's what we got.

Our CURRENT system puts power in the fluffy feet of political elites; a system of OPEN HONEST coalitions, would provide a CHECK on the absolute power of the Government, because if you have to COMPROMISE with another party, there's less chance to do something BERSERK because your allies will be able to say "stop this!"

You can have STRONG GOVERNMENT, that can ride roughshod over the will of the voters or you can have a STRONG PEOPLE with the power to pick a Parliament that reflects their views and a Government that has to listen to them; you CANNOT have both.

But there is an OPPORTUNITY here.

Because Mr Balloon has ACCEPTED the NEED FOR REFORM, we now have the chance to bring him along with us. If he backs down, then he's a big fat fibber, only in it for the Duck Island brigade. If he REALLY means it, if he really WANTS to serve the will of the people, then he's GOT to TAKE PART.

Here are the things that we MUST get on the agenda, so that the meeja CHALLENGE Mr Balloon to "put up or shut up".

Safe seats equal Sleazy Seats, that's the real source of the crisis. If Mr Balloon is SERIOUS then he has got to agree that the system needs to change.

People have got to have their say. The Conservatories bang on about wanting to give people a referendum on Europe – so we need to get people demanding a REFERENDUM ON REFORM. How could the Conservatories REFUSE?

We need to be calling for ALL parties to come together NOW. Everyone who accepts the need for reform should QUICKLY agree to form a cross-party movement, perhaps to be led by the new Mr or Ms Speaker.

I would hope that we can persuade people to move on from the Jenkins commission – local government in Scotland is now elected by STV; I think that that proves it can work, and that it's not {patronising politician} "too complicated" {/patronising politician} for the voters. In fact, if Mr Balloon is SERIOUS about wanting power to the people, he ought to be willing to HELP us get STV instead of a Party List system.

Mr Balloon is nothing if he's not a POPULIST to his well-manicured fingertips. He wouldn't jump on this bandwagon if it wasn't going somewhere. It's up to US to make sure that it's going somewhere GOOD.


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