Brighton Pavilion Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has become the latest CLP to back a model motion from Labour for a New Democracy, following a meeting of our General Committee (GC) on Thursday which had been preceded by an informal meeting, open to members, addressed by Clive Lewis, MP.
It was the discussion with Clive which swung me myself from abstention to voting in favour (as the motion was passed nemine contradicente with one abstention).
I have never been particularly taken with electoral reform as a political objective, perhaps because I don’t think it matters too much whether “votes have equal weight” or parties are represented in Parliament in proportion to their support from the electorate. I can't bring myself to care about such inconsequential things when capitalism is destroying the planet and humanity.
I don’t see the point of elections as being some sort of grand opinion poll - the point of elections is to enable people to change their Government - and I used to be persuaded that, for all its manifest flaws, “First Past the Post” (FPTP) was a good voting method to deliver that objective (plus it seemed to give the prospect of a majority Labour Government).
However, given the impossibility of Labour regaining any significant number of seats in Scotland whilst Scottish politics is dominated by the national question - so that a Labour majority at the next General Election would require a swing, in England and Wales, exceeding any we have ever achieved - and bearing in mind that FPTP has benefitted the Tories far more than it has benefitted the left for decades - there is a strong argument for a “one off” electoral deal with other parties to deliver meaningful electoral reform. This would create new challenges for the future, but they don't appear any more challenging than those we face at the moment.
This is not an argument for a “progressive alliance” (the case for which always begs the question of whether the Liberal Democrats who governed for the first five years of our current bout of austerity can be counted among the “progressives”), nor does it address comprehensively the constitutional changes required in this country (such as replacing the House of Lords with an elected second chamber, abolishing the monarchy and the Corporation of the City of London and properly empowering local communities - never mind “expropriating the expropriators”).
However, we cannot ignore the case for electoral reform indefinitely. None of the new democratic institutions created by Labour this century use FPTP for their elections and, whilst the voting system for the Westminster Parliament is far from being the most important question confronting the working class (that would be how to rebuild our labour movement) it is a question which we must now ask, and to which we must find an answer.