How do we persuade people on Proportional Representation?

11:39 pm - May 9th 2010

by Robert Sharp    

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Take Back Parliament

Take Back Parliament rally, 8th May 2010. Photo by Lewishamdreamer on Flickr

*This post contains excessive alliteration, which some readers may find offensive.

Politics means different things at different times. During the election campaign, it was the politics of presentation: of a leader (and his lovely wife), and of a suitable narrative that you think chimes with the voters.

Now the election is over, we seem to be moving into the politics of game-play and strategy. The discussion centres around what Nick Clegg can force out of the tories, and how to bounce David Cameron into Proportional Representation. Associated with this are the recriminations over failed tactics. For an example, see @hopisen (his debates with @sunny_hundal yesterday were a good example of this kind of politics).

This kind of politics assumes an intransigence on the part of your political opponents, and it is useful to remember that this is not always the case. At this crucial juncture, we need a politics of persuasion too, especially on the case of electoral reform.

@ellielevenson: RT @ericjoyce A near-painful read, near-pathetic, read. RT @krishgm: Guardian group feeling guilty?

The above comments, discussing the Guardian’s Saturday editorial, sits within the second type of politics, the politics of strategy. But as a piece of persuasion, I think the article is very useful.

But the fact remains that victory, under the electoral system we have, means securing a Commons majority. Constitutionally, no other metric matters. If the Conservatives believe that share of vote and lead over the nearest rival should have some moral weight in deciding a winner, they have already conceded a vital point about the need for electoral reform: the proportion of overall support in the country as a whole matters. …

The Tories by contrast are confused about electoral reform. It cannot have escaped their notice that they have suffered as a result of the system they are determined to keep. It is Labour whose results are most inflated by systemic bias. The Tories insist that first past the post delivers clear results, when it has just failed to do exactly that. Conservatives have always grumbled that coalition politics means shadowy deals between parties cobbled together in dingy corridors. The opposite is now proven.

Now, I am not a Tory, but I think this sort of logic that might persuade them. These kinds of arguments need to be in the foreground. My three aspects of politics overlap here: A persuasive argument, presented right, can give your cause a strategic advantage. In this case, if the Conservative party become a little less cold to the idea of electoral reform, that’s a good thing.

There has also been some discussion over political power in the past few days. Here’s Laurie Penny, barging in on that Sunny/Hopi debate I mentioned earlier:

@PennyRed: @sunny_hundal @hopisen yes and no. I think there’s enough damage that only a real defeat, preforably temporary, can make us regroup.

@sunny_hundal: @hopisen @STEPearce @PennyRed I dint believe in power for it’s own sake. That is where labour is at and that is the path to hell

Its little comfort, but the politics of persuasion persists even when the party is out of power.

All of this is a way of saying, that while the Tories and Liberal Democrata hammer out whatever deal they can; while the Labour front bench has been told to keep quiet; and while Gordon Brown keeps a low profile, it would be a good use of Labour supporters’ time to help promote and grow the Take Back Parliament Campaign.

The coalition has taken only three days to amass over 41,000 supporters, which is very impressive. However, I think it needs a broader base than the middle-class Lib Dem supporting demographic I saw at the rally on Saturday.

This is a practical task that Labourites can take on right now, while we all twiddle our thumbs waiting for opposition.


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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Reader comments

Politicians as a whole are rather guilty of seeing the world as they would like it to be, rather than as it is, so it’s not surprising that when given an inconclusive result like this, everybody jumps to the entirely wrong conclusions.

There’s no evidence on Thursday that the electorate ‘voted for’ some kind of electoral reform, neither is there any evidence that they voted against it.

But what the electorate want is now irrelevant. The election’s over. It’s now a numbers game, and strategy is absolutely key.

Do the Lib Dems have the numbers? Welll, maybe. Not from the Tories, but if they can wangle a free vote, Labour might just be persuaded to vote yes to annoy the Tories.

But how committed is Labour’s death bed conversion to electoral reform? That remains to be seen. Especially if the Lib Dems go into coalition with their mortal enemies.

“it would be a good use of Labour supporters’ time to help promote and grow the Take Back Parliament Campaign.”

Absolutely. But more than that, Labour supporters need to take that cause back into their own party. It’s absolutely no good launching a DoS attack on Cowley Street, as I’ve seen one Labour-inclined reform group suggest this week. The Lib Dems are already pro-reform and already under the cosh from their own membership to stick to their guns. You Labour supporters need to persuade YOUR OWN PEOPLE, the ones who rely on your votes and your campaign power. What’s past is past, but you guys need to lobby now like you haven’t lobbied for the last thirteen years.

Martin Coxall’s point is horribly pertinent: “But how committed is Labour’s death bed conversion to electoral reform? That remains to be seen. Especially if the Lib Dems go into coalition with their mortal enemies.”

Please reassure me this is not true, that your party isn’t going to let a vote on this be lost out of spite. If it does come to a vote on a referendum (which Cameron can currently be confident of winning) then Labour needs to have been primed to back it. Don’t come crying to the Lib Dems if you fail to lobby your own MPs hard enough to make it happen.

I don’t see twattish MPs like Tom Harris, and even good ones like Jeremy Corbyn, both of whom oppose PR, voting for an act to allow a referendum on the voting system.

Given that the magic number would be 320, the passage of such an act would require every Lib Dem MP (a given), all the SNP and PC MPs (also given), the Alliance MP (votes with the Lib Dem), the Green MP (another given), Sylvia Hermon (not sure), all three SDLP MPs (depends on Labour) and 248 out of Labour’s 258 MPs.

I don’t see that happening.

We all knew a hung parliament could lead to a LibCon deal. It was never ruled out by any side. This is what hung parliaments do: lead to coalitions. I don’t see a LibLab pact working, there isn’t anyone in either party with a legitimate claim to be PM.


“We all knew a hung parliament could lead to a LibCon deal. It was never ruled out by any side. This is what hung parliaments do: lead to coalitions. I don’t see a LibLab pact working, there isn’t anyone in either party with a legitimate claim to be PM.”

In the abstract perhaps, yes. But…. I think most people who voted for and/or supported the LD’s, or hoped for a hung parliament, were pretty sure disagreements on PR and Europe (if nothing else) would stop a Con/LD coalition in it’s tracks.

This is my biggest problem with apparent growing momentum towards such a deal: they are being bounced into it. I don’t buy the economic crisis threat. Clegg needs to ensure that the Tories know a referendum on PR is a line in the sand. If Cameron can’t or won’t deliver that, pass him the poison chalice of a minority Government, tolerate measures to stabilise the economy if you must.

In the meantime, Labour will ditch Brown and in the second election we either get a clear majority for one party (which I can’t see happening), or a coalition that WILL deliver PR.

Whatever the Tory media and the Tory right think and say, they DON’T have a mandate. The recent result is pretty appalling given the circumstances.

Clegg and the LD’s are signing their party’s death warrant if they do a deal with Cameron.

“I don’t see a LibLab pact working, there isn’t anyone in either party with a legitimate claim to be PM.”

I’m more than ever wondering whether Labour even wants it to. What would be the advantage to them? They don’t care about electoral reform (at parliamentary level anyway), they don’t have the habit of listening to their grassroots who are concerned about it, and they’d probably much rather have all the votes back they’ve lost to us. A ConLib pact would actually be great for the Labour party from a tribal point of view, because it’lll wipe us out in the north, Wales and Scotland.

If they really cared about electoral reform, I suspect they’d have made the Lib Dems an offer they couldn’t refuse by now, much as Sunny suggested two days ago. They’d rather let the coalition happen.

6. Mike Killingworth

[3] I assume it would be a whipped vote – I doubt either Harris or Corbyn feel so strongly about the issue as to defy the whip over it (when they can always get themselves quietly paired). However, it isn’t going to happen.

Cameron’s main interest is in persuading the Lib Dems that the three non-English constituents of the UK should have fewer seats because they have devolved institutions. He’s probably looking to cut 30 or so seats there. In return, he may be offering Clegg a referendum on an elected Upper House (with PR).


PR is a line in the sand. 75% of Lib Dem MPs, 75% of the LD Federal Executive have to agree. I do not see so many prominent Lib Dems agreeing to anything without some form of PR, even AMS or AV+ (if that is what is on the table, I’d urge them to take it). If they disagree with Nick, it’s to the special conference of delegates to decide (and if more than 26% of their MPs and FEC don’t support it, what’s the chances of grassroots members going for it?) – correct me if I’m wrong on these rules, Alix.

So I think we all need to calm down and trust Nick’s team a bit more. They know there are limits to what they can sell the rest of their MPs and their party. They physically, literally couldn’t agree to a deal which caused a split right down the middle of the party.


You are probably right about Labour. So much of what is being said on their side of the blogosphere, and Twitter, the howls of righteous indignation from people whose party took us to two bloody wars and failed to reform the system after 13 years in power, amounts to: “how dare you even speak to the Tories, they are evil, you are evil, Labour will crush you LOLZ”.

I mean, these are the same bloggers and twats who criticised the Lib Dems for being right wing and “not progressive” (e.g. witness the lame attempts of Left Foot Forward’s Will “son of Jack” Straw and Shamik “Labour Foot Forward” Das to discredit Lib Dem tax policy). And now they are criticising the Lib Dems for even speaking to the Tories? But surely if the Lib Dems are so evil and right wing, they shouldn’t be surprised that they are in perfectly legitimate and sensible talks with another evil, right wing party? Hmm…

Labour still don’t get it. Even after being crushed, losing up to 100 seats, and suffering their second worse defeat since 1918 (the worst being 1983), they still can’t eat goddamn humble pie and shut up. You wonder how badly they would have needed to have been beaten last week in order for them to enter a period of quiet retrospection, re-evaluation of their values, and regrouping.

But no. Mark my words, if the LibCon pact goes ahead, then all we will hear from Labourites on- and off-line from now until the next election, is how evil the Lib Dems are for getting into bed with the Tories in their attempt to moderate their policies with some much-needed liberal thinking.

What you won’t hear from Labour, is any attempt to redefine or question their core values, understand what went wrong in 13 years of government and 16 years of New Labour, and present the electorate with a fresh vision for what it means to be a social democrat in the 21st century. They will spend months and even years pretending the last 13 years never happened, criticising the same policies from the Tories/LDs that they themselves introduced in government.

(God I hate Labour bloggers and tweeters, even if I did tactically vote Labour last week)


They’ve already reduced the number of seats in Scotland. If Clegg fell for the sop of an elected Lords he and his party deserve everything they get.

There is a real doubt about whether some Labour anti-PR die hards would vote in favour of it in a free vote, or rebel if they were whipped.

If Clegg can’t get meaningful concessions from the Tories, he should leave them to their fate.

Labourites are already salivating over the propaganda opportunities for a LibCon government:

I suppose it might be too much to expect the electorate to welcome the Lib Dems’ maturity in trying to find a workable solution even with unsavoury parties like the Tories.

10. Mike Killingworth

[7] If you are right, Mark, we are in a “confidence and supply” situation and the Tories will start the blame game. Remember, they have the media to sell their side of the story. If you are wrong, and there is a deal, how on earth are the Lib Dems going to stand as an independent party next time (remember that the Lib/Lab pact of the 1970s led to them losing half their seats)? At the very least, the Tories will be seeking individual defections and a significant number of activists will be lost, either to the Green Party or to political activism altogether. People like Tony Greaves are not describing the election result as a “nightmare” for your Party for nothing.

I also think your post is unfair to Labour. I’m pretty sure there will be a thorough and deep-seated inquest. There will, for a start, be a leadership election: the Whips and the NEC will forbid another coronation. And if you think that – to take just one example – Sunder and the Fabians won’t be engaging in how to position Labour for the 21st Century you don’t know him very well. Of course, Labour’s problem is tasty: if they run a democratic party, it becomes unelectably left-wing; if they run a democratic centralist one, it goes too far to the right!


I hope you are right, I honestly do! There have been too many false dawns in the past.


Not sure it’s a hope – it’s based on pure numbers. 75% of Lib Dem MPs will not sign their own political death warrant – which is what agreeing to a deal with the Tories that doesnt have PR in it amounts to. It just won’t happen. Clegg knows this, and is a smart guy. If he insists, and they refuse, then the deal falls through and the Tories rule as a minority. The same Labourites now lambasting the Lib Dems for considering a deal with the Tories, will blame them for not providing stability: the inevitable October election will see a swing away from the Lib Dems to Labour and to the Tories, so that the electorate produces a decisive outcome either way.

The only hope, and this one really is a long shot, that if a deal without PR falls through (inevitable) then the Libs and the Labs can agree on some kind of shared opposition platform, forming a united electoral front for October, based upon electoral reform. They will have the numbers, along with the Nats, to deft Cam’s minority government from time to time, particularly on cuts. But the idea that Labour will work together with the Lib Dems, and endorse real electoral reform, unless it absolutely has to, is unrealistic.

I think, if the LibCon coalition doesn’t happen, Labour will not want to share opposition duties with the Libs, and instead will play the “vote Labour to get rid of the Tories” card to death in October, crushing the Libs.

@10 I’m sure Sunder et al will go through the motions but the influence of the FabSoc, the IPPR and so on haven’t exactly saved us from the worst of New Labour. Their power to influence the party is limited by the patronage they owe it.

Leaving aside opinons about the record of the current administration, I think that a period of opposition will be good for Labour as a party, though I’ve no idea what will happen.

The “We really really believe in PR now – honest” (even though we shafted them last time) and “but but but most people voted against the Tories” (even though we claimed a clear mandate when we had even fewer votes in 2005) stuff is pitiable.

If Gordon’s Govt doesn’t manage to resurrect itself – which depends at present on whether Nick Clegg is glancing coyly at them to push Dave that bit harder or actually means it (I don’t think he does, though it may be an interesting reversal of the way TB used the LibDems) – one of the interesting dynamics over the next 12 months will be whether “rebuilding the left” people opt for attempting to renew Labour, or for trying to change the Lib Dems from below, or even whether some go further out leftwards to the Greens in the hope that a proportion of their policies will move closer to practicality.

I’ve no idea where *that* balance will lie.

Mark @12,

“The only hope, and this one really is a long shot, that if a deal without PR falls through (inevitable) then the Libs and the Labs can agree on some kind of shared opposition platform, forming a united electoral front for October, based upon electoral reform.”

Hope for what? Hope for the Conservatives romping home in an early election, because that is what this would produce. The south-west would probably go blue almost entirely, if the Liberal Democrats attached themselves to Labour for a start – in Cornwall and Hampshire the Liberal Democrats are losing ground already for God’s sake! Furthermore, the anti-Labour votes (quite a lot of people at the moment) in many seats would not be split between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, but basically focussed on Conservative. And there are plenty of Labour voters who for whatever reason will not vote Liberal Democrat (perhaps the voters are not progressive enough?).

Furthermore, by turning the election into a referendum on electoral reform, you would risk the Conservatives presenting a full manifesto and claiming that they were more concerned with governing and democracy than trying to rig the system (regardless of the truth of the accusation), and if they won, they would be able to claim a mandate for no reform.

Bluntly, your hope is that an issue that matters to you and to many educated middle-class people (but not to most Labour voters, who may well regard the idea in the same way as many Conservatives, as a way to give unfair influence to Liberal Democrats), electoral reform, is important enough to form an electoral alliance over, despite the fact this would leave many party members unable to vote (and who would get to stand in say Durham or Redcar anyway?). It sounds like the Conservatives dreams come true, not a serious proposition. And as you say, it is extremely unlikely.

Nick Clegg wants parliament to be elected by STV. Dave Cameron wants parliament to be elected by FPTP. Since they can’t agree, why don’t they let the issue by decided by the people, by way of a referendum? After all, whose country is it, the people’s or the politicians’?

If I was a Lib Dem strategist, that’s how I’d portray any Tory failure to agree to a referendum on PR.

Alix: They don’t care about electoral reform (at parliamentary level anyway)

I don’t think this is true anymore. Enough of the top brass, especially Mandelson and Johnson repeatedly, have declared their support for reform. So has Ed Balls.

I suspect there is less support among MPs than the PLP actually.

A persuasive argument. Of course, under many PR systems the Tories would have had their outright majority in this election. Interestingly, I had an email from someone in New Zealand regarding their move from FPTP to mixed-member PR. It’s worth remembering that the right-wing media in the UK often try to tell us that PR has been a disaster for NZ. Her observations show us this clearly isn’t true: Maybe one day the right-wing media will wake up and realise that in this modern world of the internet, it’s not exactly impossible for UK citizens to speak to people from other countries and that they can’t pull the wool over our eyes as easily as they used to.

@17: “I suspect there is less support among MPs than the PLP actually.”

It’s clear that Blunkett, for example, is adamantly opposed to electoral reform:

“Former Home Secretary David Blunkett says he’s ‘bewildered’ by Nick Clegg’s fascination with bringing in proportional representation which, he says, would result in the current horse-trading being repeated after every election. He tells Sunday Live he believes the Conservatives and Lib Dems will ‘cobble together’ an agreement but that stable government is ‘much, much more important than some squabble over the voting system.'”

Evidently, Blunkett thinks there is nothing at all perculiar about a voting system in which the LibDems attract 23% of the votes cast and get only 8% of the seats in Parliament. If wonder if his sentiments have anything to do with Nick Clegg representating a Sheffield constituency or that the LibDems contend with Labour for the control of Sheffield City Council.

Cabalamat; exactly, and that’s how it’ll play. Tories have “more referndums” as a manifesto pledge, shows they’re scared they’ll lose.

But the fear is daft; these negotiations prove that LD will work with them and not lock them out completely.

Gah, didn’t that subscribe box used to be auto ticked? Ah well.

22. Luis Enrique

# 19 (Bob)

doesn’t Blunkett realise that if we had PR, hung parliaments would be the norm and procedures for dealing them would be the norm too. That is to say, the horse-trading could take place in advance, and voters would have a better idea of what coalitions they are likely to end up with.

The Dutch seem to manage it.

The thing is, most labour supporters were unhappy at blair because he was afraid of doing anything to alienate the centre. Most conservatives dislike cameron because he has tried to do the same thing. Under FPTP you have to pretend to be something you are not in order to win.

It is often said the lib dems would benefit the most from changing the system as they would hold the balance of power each time. Actually I think the opposite would happen, they would split between the orange book/libertarian tendancy and the social democrat tendancy. I could then see parliament being dominated by a (smaller) conservative party more true to its philisophical orgins allied with UKIP, ulster unionists, and possibly a libertarian/unltra thatcherite grouping. On the other side we’d see new labour seeking support from the nationalists and a smaller red-green grouping in the unlikely event of the far left demonstrating competence and enough unity to form such a grouping.


Future history, whilst an interesting pursuit, is also fraught with dangers. It is equally “possible” in the given post reform scenario that the fracturing of the system would make it difficult (tho not necessarily impossible) for any single bloc of either the left or right to dominate the scene.

Yes, it is possible the LD’s could fracture, but it’s also possible both the Tory and Labour “movements” could split into hard and soft sections, as well as the Greens and other minor parties making progress. Throw nationalist parties into the mix, and it could make for an interesting period. Who knows, you might even get a “centrist” party governing with the support of a collection of other groups from either left or right.

Tell people it is not what Murdoch wants.

We all now why Murdoch loves FPTP. In the countries which operate this system or similar. IE Britain, America, Australia, he has been able to acquire enormous power , by playing one side off against the other. Spineless politicians from both main parties have given him ludicrous amounts of power, which he then uses to demand even more power. The idea that his business pays only about £1 million in tax a year is scandalous.

Not so easy in a proportional system. And rightly so. One of the best things about this election is that for the first time in over 30 years he did not get what he wanted. Makes a Pleasant change.

You need to look up how it works in Oz.

Um, Sally? Australia uses STV for the Senate and AV for the lower house. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good rant.

Nick Clegg wants parliament to be elected by STV. Dave Cameron wants parliament to be elected by FPTP. Since they can’t agree, why don’t they let the issue by decided by the people, by way of a referendum? After all, whose country is it, the people’s or the politicians’?

The question could be something like:

Do you want the electoral system for the UK to be:

1. First Past the Post
2. STV
3. D’Hondt list PR
4. AV
5. AV+
6. PR Squared

Whichever gets the most votes wins.

Sally rarely lets facts get in the way

Tim J,

Actually shouldn’t the systems be used in proportion to the votes they receive in the referendum. So if FPTP gets 25% of the vote it gets used 25% of the time.



Errrmmm.. shouldn’t it be held under PR? 😉

I think the above is almost certainly too many choices…. and wouldn’t it be more sensible to have a yes/no question first, then a choice of 2 or 3 systems for those voting yes?

TBH I’m not really in favour of a multiple choice referenda. My preference would be for an all party (the main 5, not 3) comission to examine it and come to a consensus that then needs ratification from the electorate. However I think this would be unlikely as the 5 parties are unlikely to agree (they can’t even agree internally) to the same system. I’d therefore propose a smaller comission of those MPS and Lords in favour of reform need to form a consensus on what system to propose that gets put to the electorate as a “yes/no”.

What would you know about facts cjcjcjcjcjcjcjc?

You claimed you are not a tory, which shows you don’t even know facts inside your own head.

My worry is that PR will give even more control to political parties. In fact, with the current system you can be elected as an independent, for instance if you organised a campaign to save your local hospital and deice to stand without any party supporting you. Plus PR will need at 5% threshold to stop extremist parties, as happens everywhere in Europe.


Holding a commission is a terrible idea – it’s a recipe for stasis. The referendum should be in 2 parts: Part 1 = yes/no to changing from FPTP. If >50% vote yes, we automatically proceed on the basis of which system wins in Part 2 = which of 2 or 3 systems you want, ranked by preference, with the most popular becoming the new system.

The referendum should be held in the first 12 months of the new parliament, which gives them long enough to explain the PR options.

Setting a minimum % can be done, but given the fact that UKIP and the BNP both polled 2-3%, it would have to be over 5%. Much as I hate extremist parties, I have been convinced that it might actually be better to have them represented and in the full glare of publicity, than working underground. The oxygen of publicity doesn’t seem to have done the BNP much good in Barking after all!


Even in the USA (for the presidential election) it’s not a simple fptp. The college in each state has to make it’s vote but they are not required to forward all of their votes for the winning candidate, most do, but it is not a requirement and some vote proportionaly.

Peps, no one (seriously, no one) is proposing list system PR. In fact, STV, the Lib Dem and ERS preferered solution improves the odds of Independents getting elected, and weakens the chances of extremists.

That’s the main reason I prefer it.

Galen10: I agree about the BNP – representation for all, even for bigots. I believe most of their support to be protest vote anyway, and one thing that STV should enable if nothing else is getting rid of the feeling of unrepresentedness that the current system magnifies.

@17 Sunny H

“I don’t think this is true anymore. Enough of the top brass, especially Mandelson and Johnson repeatedly, have declared their support for reform. So has Ed Balls”

I think they have declared their support for clinging on to power….Turkey’s don’t vote fr Christmas so why would Labour MPs vote for a system which would wipe out many of them and permanently force them into a coalition if they want to hold power? Blair’s 1997 volte-face on electoral reform is hardly really surprising – it doesn’t suit Labour in the slightest when the current FPTP system gives is a massive headstart.

PR …….. the voting system that guarantees the LiberalDemocrats would always be in power.

Not that that is the reason they favour it – of course.

They are only after a “fairer kind of politics”. 😉

Worth reading Tom Harris’ take on FPTP/PR

@22: “doesn’t Blunkett realise that if we had PR, hung parliaments would be the norm and procedures for dealing them would be the norm too.”

Luis – I’m sure Blunkett fully appreciates that. The problem is that Blunkett is a compulsive statist who really loves power without the constraints that regular coalitions or party alliances would introduce as a consequence of electoral reform with some element of PR – such as the proposals of the Hansard Society in 1976 or the AV+ prosposals of the Jenkins Commission:

When Blunkett was education secretary, he was issuing more than one new policy, regulation, ministerial letter etc etc every day – the LibDems kept track and published figures showing that schools were buried under a mountain of paperwork. By 2000, the New Labour government had sent out 315 consultation papers, 387 sets of regulations and 437 sets of guidance to LEAs since May 1997.

Understandably, head teachers and senior teaching staff were driven round the twist by this. It quickly got to the stage where they realised that there would be some new bureaucratic missive which they had to read through, comprehend and implement every day. The predictable outcome was a dramatic rise in vacancies for head teacher posts and an increasing recruit problem in filling the posts. But nothing deterred Blunkett.

Kojak – Who knows what PR would do. Maybe you’d see a Labour-Green coalition for the next umpteen years. People don’t vote Green cause they can’t win; if they could they would.

The important thing is I’ve been voting LibDem for the past 30 years or so and I’d like my vote to count. Why should we be wedded to an unfair voting system just because it’s always in the interest of the larger parties? Why shouldn’t Nick Clegg negotiate for a fairer system on my behalf and on the behalves of the other 25% or so of people who voted for him. I’ve never had a government which represented my views; never, not ever, not once. (Well… there was that brief time in Holyrood and the local council in Fife is LibDem/SNP but…).

What an unbearable tyranny! The LibDems might occupy some government offices and might get some of their policy passed. That’s the way it works in the rest of the civilized world. Australia hasn’t ground to a halt. German hasn’t collapsed into civil war. Yes; the 25% of people who vote LibDem would like some way in how the country is run. If you think this is tyrannical or if you think this is somehow robbing you of your birthright to get everything exactly your way /tough/.

And now you’ve got folks like Tom Harris taking a ‘principled’ stand to defend the continuation of Glasgow as a rotten borough for Labour. Before we reformed the council electoral system in Scotland (to PR-STV) it was possible to have an election in Glasgow in which 50% of the people voting Labour ensured 90% of the councillors; not a receipt for a responsive, reflective or effective administration.

Seriously Labour; none of us want the Tories in but right now Tom Harris and folk like him are doing more than David Cameron and Lord Ashcroft ever did to put the Tories in government. I’m sure I speak for everyone else employed by the public sector; sort your selves out!

@25 Sally: Tell people it is not what Murdoch wants.


Dear Kojak

Please can you get back to your proper job of apprehending US felons.

Why shouldn’t the Libdems be in power perpetually, rather than the 2 dinosaur parties?

If PR were to be achieved, the public, steered by ‘The Sun’, could very well vote in a Con-UKIP-BNP coalition – for if Cameron does not get in now the party will surely lurch to the right (and heaven help us if such a coalition were to materialise).

But achieving assent from a referendum will be jolly difficult. There is a well of residual public anger at expenses and this could be tapped to support PR as part of a ‘cleaning up politics’ drive. The economy has to be restored and trust in Clegg and the future Labour leader will have to be cemented with the public.

One of the pros for a Con-Lib coalition now is that it will hold the Tory right at bay.

46. Hugh Legge

Supporters of PR are going to have to do a deal with the FPTP team. For an Additional Member system which maintains the constituency link and can provide as much proportion as you like, while avoiding party lists, contact me at Document (7 pages) is too big to post on this website.

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    RT @libcon: Politics of Persuasion on Proportional Representation

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, robertsharp59 and Kim Lofthouse, Greg Eden. Greg Eden said: RT @libcon: Politics of Persuasion on Proportional Representation […]

  7. RupertRead

    Politics of Persuasion on Proportional Representation << This is a brilliant article: superb logic, on Tories & PR

  8. robertsharp59

    RT @RupertRead This is a brilliant article: superb logic, on Tories & PR <- Thanks for your positive review, Rupert!

  9. Liberal Conspiracy

    How do we persuade people on Proportional Representation?

  10. Les Crompton

    RT @libcon: How do we persuade people on Proportional Representation?

  11. Liberal Conspiracy » Liberal Democrats: the clue is in the name

    […] approval? No deal. As commenter Mark Lightwood observes on a previous thread: 75% of Lib Dem MPs will not sign their own political death warrant – which is what agreeing to a […]

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