Recently in the UK, electoral reform has appeared on the agenda, the Labour Party hinting that it may change the UK’s First-past-the-post (FPTP) system, should it win the next election. Beyond the argument that election results should reflect voter preferences, supporters assert that proportional representation (PR) would reduce inequality. According to a new
Hello Mr Prosser
I strongly disagree with what you are saying. PR is essential. Our absurd system is in urgent need of it.
Well done on Ukraine though.
"the UK has a political economy which perpetuates unequal outcomes, institutions such as the prominent finance sector, corporate short-termism and liberal labour market being associated with this."
As I see it, the institutions you mention developed within an economic landscape which is fundamentally tilted, creating a steady flow of wealth from the poor to the rich. But those institutions are not themselves the cause of those flows. The underlying drivers of inequality are derelict laws of land ownership (i.e. laws which have become detached from the circumstances which gave rise to them) and incoherent laws and conventions governing taxation and the monetary system*.
To my mind, trying to tackle inequality without addressing those issues will always take a huge amount of political energy and will never have any realistic prospect of long-term success. At some point, if we want to live in a stable society, we're going to have to get to grips with more fundamental reform.
* I haven't yet brought my land reform proposals across to substack but, if you're interested, here's my analysis of what monetary reform is needed: https://malcolmr.substack.com/p/a-stable-monetary-system
I've been wondering for a while about whether politics is, in some way, 'over' for the time being. The impression I have is that 'the market' and 'capital' are upstream of everything. Which is why you have that horseshoe effect of shared discomfort on the furthest ends of left & right.
So changing the way we distribute political representation is just tinkering around the edges, without addressing any actual rebalance of power.
Is this a reasonable intuition? Who else explores this area?
I found a quote by Sir John Curtice, currently a popular talking head when it comes to this sort of thing. I used it in one of my pieces and it comes from, of all places, The Actuary.
What about proportional representation as an alternative? "In many countries, that was introduced as the price extracted by the elite to allow the expansion of the right to vote. The concern was, with a majoritarian system, the working class would dominate the legislature and public policy” (Sir John Curtice)
So, concerns about the working classes dominating the legislature. Well, we cannot have that, can we? It might lead to all sorts of inconvenient decisions.
Majorities are majorities. PR gets you every loony going. At least with our present system the 'working classes', the poor ignorant dears, get to have a say. And I have to say that 'working' is what build this country. Not farting about with a placard.
The risk with Labour deciding to tamper with the voting system is that it legitimizes their opposition also doing so. If you're going to franchise huge blocs of people because you think they'll vote en-masse the way you want, how can you complain if the opposition disenfranchises huge blocs for that very same reason?
There's another reason to avoid it. It looks weak. Labour have spent so much time out of power because their ideas are bad. Trying to change the game so they can win more often speaks to their inability to actually become popular themselves, with their only real chances of power under the current system coming when their opponents screw up or people get tired of them and want a change.
> Brexit has reconfigured the institutions of the UK political economy, entailing a level of disruption unseen since the end of the Second World War.
I don't understand where this idea comes from. The average person I know thinks that Brexit changed nothing, because it merely removed constraints on a government that wanted to do the EU stuff anyway. The idea it was disruptive or had some great impact on institutions seems bizarre. Where is this impact?