Conservatives: fans of first past the post when it suits, but when electing a leader…? Not so much

If the Conservative Party truly believed in the democratic robustness and fairness of the first past the post system, it would surely use it for its own leadership elections. Rishi Sunak would have won in the first round and it would all be done and dusted.

We plebs must be happy with a system which allows MPs to be elected on a minority of the votes and where the total number of votes cast has no bearing on the final distribution of seats. Johnson et al point with glee at their huge majority (was 80 seats, now diminished by resignations and by-election defeats) achieved on less than 44 per cent of the vote. Some mandate!

It isn’t right, is it?

The leadership election process is a horse of a very different colour. In the first round, MPs get to vote for their absolute favourite. In subsequent rounds they can still vote for their favourite if they are still in the fray, otherwise they have to decide who their next favourite candidate is until the point where there are only two choices left and they get put to the membership for the final say.

It is bad enough from the country’s point of view that the final selection will be made by less than half of one per cent of the electorate. But the fact that 200,000 people – mostly men, mostly over 60, mostly white (97 per cent!) and overwhelmingly supporters of the disaster that is Brexit – will determine who leads the country is, frankly, an abomination.

Does any of this sound remotely democratic to you? The only democratic bit is the run off process. The Great British public are not allowed a system which reflects preferences because that would damage the Conservatives’ chances of domination.

Penny Mordaunt, currently in second place, claims she and the others stand on the same mandate as Boris Johnson and, therefore, do not need to go to the bother of a general election. Let’s take her at her word. It means she will do nothing differently, have no new policies but will, effectively, act as the guardian of the lying clown’s agenda. So, more of the same plundering, corruption, incompetence, deprivation and cruelty, just with a bit less of the blatant lying and the sex scandals…

Only still with a fair bit of lying, as it’s impossible to honour ridiculous promises to deliver the non-existent Brexit benefits, or to cut tax and shrink the state and magically have the money and resources to level-up.

And if she is telling porkies, because she and the others are terrified of a general election in which the Tories are only too likely to get what’s coming to them – a comprehensive wipe-out – she (and the others) must fully intend for things to be different. In which case, GET A MANDATE FOR CHANGE!

Flawed though FPTP is, we must have a general election (and then bring in proportional representation!). Johnson must be extricated from Number 10 ASAP. If the new leader is so bloody marvellous and can fix all the horrors that he/she and their party created in the first place, then the Conservatives will be fine and re-elected. And if they know they won’t be fine, they have no mandate, do they?

A lot of us really fear that there will be a further lurch to the far right under a new leader. Remember, the Tories will still have a massive parliamentary majority and, therefore, the means to ram through extreme policies. Fully aware that under normal circumstances their days of feasting would be numbered, they will make it as hard as possible for their death grip on power to be loosened and will fight to ensure that their pockets are nicely lined, their beds feathered and their donors and cronies rewarded ahead of any political famine to come. Like cornered rats. Dangerous. Very dangerous.