We need radical political change – letter to the editor

“Boris Johnson’s first PMQs” by UK Parliament is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 Have we seen his last?

Dear West Country Voices,

The Conservative party has clearly been in power for too long and has too much power based on significantly less than half of the votes cast in the last general election (an 80 seat majority based on securing a mere 43.6 per cent of the ballots cast in 2019). The recent events are just a symptom of this fact. 

Absolute power has been shown to corrupt absolutely and now they have free rein to continue to undermine our services, impose fascistic anti-protest and anti-refugee laws against the will of the majority of the population. That is before you take into account the Brexit decision that the absolute majority of eligible voters never actually voted for. Partygate is a manifestation of the disease that currently infects the corridors of Whitehall. 

It is long past time for radical political change in this country. My local MP Sheryll Murray is the perfect example of why first past the post voting systems must go. She is in a safe seat, phones in her election campaign in every four to five years and then not only ignores the views of those who didn’t vote for her but actively votes for policies that harm those foolhardy enough to elected her. She supported Boris Johnsons deeply-flawed Brexit deal on terms that she voted for without any scrutiny, she voted for universal credit cuts for the poorest in society, of whom there are many in South East Cornwall, and, of course, she was all for removing free school meals for the most needy children. These are just a few of her actions that immediately spring to mind.

Examination of her voting record will prove this to be a pattern and shows an atrocious disregard for her constituency. In fact, it’s hard to see what she actually gives to the area.

It also speaks of an MP who is happily taking the benefits of a salary which is way ahead of the average for the area plus probably one of the most generous expenses packages out there – and all without actually having to work for her constituents. 

Of course, her story is not unique. Safe seats should not be in existence anywhere in a modern democracy. Britain needs to change to a proportional representation (PR) based voting system where MPs have to work for all of those in their constituency all of the time, and not simply toe the party line. PR would also mean that no party would ever gain a majority based on less than 50 per cent of the vote. That would go a long way to cutting the corruption and blatant abuses of power to which we are currently subjected. 

Also it would increase voter engagement and voter participation by allowing us to vote for those parties that most fit our world view without “wasting” our vote as we do now in safe seats. Many of us feel unheard, unrepresented and angry with the way things are. 

There is the old argument that “PR would allow extremist groups into parliament”. Yes, this is true, but at most a handful of far right or far left MPs would get seats. They would be dwarfed and silenced by the majority of moderate MPs.

What we currently have is an extreme right wing nationalist Tory party pulling all of the strings with minority vote share. I know which situation I would prefer. The odd extremist MP from an extremist party that could be controlled by the moderates is better than the 365 extreme MPs under a blue rosette that have absolute power under first past the post. 

Then maybe a more representative parliament could start by tackling the Boris backlog, prioritising the mammoth NHS waiting lists after years of underfunding and government interference.

Carl Garner


If you are interested in electoral reform, please visit Make Votes Matter and The Electoral Reform Society for more information. With the introduction of voter ID, voter suppression will distort outcomes yet further. Editor