I haven’t written about the election result because it took me a while to process it and of course, the conclusions are still somewhat up in the air.
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I do think there needs to be a change in the voting system. The first past the post system fits into a modernist paradigm. Choosing between centre right and centre left with no room for any of the subtleties between or on either extreme.
I think it’s a clear expression of a post-modern paradigm arising. We don’t want to be pigeon-holed so easily into one or the other option but the system demands it. I have never really liked the idea of tactical voting as I feel strongly that one should vote according to how you believe. It’s just the system is not that flexible as it stands.
I know some point to a possible rise in representation by far left and far right parties but I would argue that the point of the political system is to be neutral and the way of reducing the attractiveness and representation of those whose views are distasteful to the norm are to spread more ground roots understanding and include those who might be compelled to vote for extremist parties.
The reasons that they have grown, namely, a feeling of disenfranchisement, can be tackled in other ways but creating an argument that the minority parties must be denied the opportunity to be represented, is, I think, something of a straw man argument. It would affect the ‘good’ smaller parties equally, like the Greens (of course, the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are wholly mine).
For European elections and for the London Assembly elections, we use an STV system and I have to say that’s my preferred model. A link between constituency and representative is retained but there is less of a feeling of ‘why bother?’ that living in a very safe seat can entail. Also, there is no doubt, in my mind that representatives who do represent safe seats become more complacent. I saw no campaigning whatsoever in my own constituency. I felt very resigned to the fact that my vote and seat was taken for granted. I wanted to engage with candidates and ask them questions but they saw no point in targeting the area in which I live.
I think that a Conservative minority government is better than a Conservative majority government would be. I think there may be the birth of a coalition and as someone who did vote Liberal Democrat (not that my vote made a blind bit of difference) I have surprising faith in the parties to see out the negotiation process. Hopefully, they will be able to temper some of the most objectionable Tory policies.
I also hope that their support for a Commission to discuss the funding of Adult Care will be followed, especially as the Labour Party seem to support it. It will be an interesting and probably quite short Parliament and I make no apologies from moving away from the specific social work agenda because politics affects us profoundly.
I have to say as a gut feeling, I’d favour a Lib/Lab alliance but I don’t think it is feasible with the figures involved. One of the most comforting things about the election is that no party can really claim a moral high ground of having ‘won’,
We need to keep them on their toes and remind them of their reliance on the mandate from the public.
I expect another election within a couple of years, probably sooner. And I’m sure I won’t be volunteering for the count this time!