It’s not often we have a referendum for the whole of the UK, so when the political classes condescend to ask our opinion (rather than telling us what we should believe) it’s only polite to answer.
First and foremost I will nail my colours to the mast. I’m a democrat – with a small D, and not in the American sense. I believe in representative government elected by the people. However, I also live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country, so what I believe and how I vote makes absolutely no difference at all. I might as well have wiped my bum on my ballot paper last May for all the good it did.
Our present voting system produces distorted results and, with the possible exception of the odd landslide, gives us minority government. It was fine in the days when there were only the Whigs and the Tories up on the hustings singing their siren songs to those who actually had the vote, but in a modern environment with all its different shades of opinion it just doesn’t work.
Much scare-mongering about the BNP has been done by the “No” campaign. If changing our voting system to something more representative means Nick Griffin ends up in the UK Parliament then so be it. He will have been put there by people who believe in what he says. (Please, people, get the message once and for all. You do NOT change opinions by proscribing the language people can use or by fiddling with the electoral system. You do it by identifying what you see as wrong and challenging it head on.)
And that leads me nicely on to my main point. This morning I read two opposing views on the referendum. One, from Katie Ghose of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, stuck to the issues of why voting reform is needed. The other, from Matthew Elliott of the No campaign, was little more than an attack on Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. I quote “After each general election, the UK would face a Hung Parliament and we would have to wait patiently while the Lib Dems played one party off against the other behind closed doors.”
Is the No campaign so short of arguments that they have to resort to such negative campaigning? Tell us, Matthew, why politicians talking to each other rather than hurling verbal brickbats is such a bad thing. Tell us how, within your logic, a “strong government”, elected under the current system, could ever change policy. Tell us why the bargaining only applies to the LibDems and only they could be kingmaker. He won’t, though, because his arguments are all over the shop.
On 6 September last year on the Conservative Home blogsite Matthew said “I agree that First-Past-The-Post isn’t perfect – … … … – but it is decisive.”
Decisive? He says this some four months after an election that gave us a hung Parliament and led to the very deals he now derides? Somebody take his gun away before he shoots another fox.