Monday, July 08, 2024

The UK needs proportional representation

Like a lot of people, I spent Friday watching the UK election. There's the obvious joy at seeing the end of 14 years of Tory chaos, but at the same time the new government does not greatly enthuse me. In order to win over the establishment, Starmer has moved UK Labour even further to the right, and while the new government will be less cruel and more competent than the previous one, the ongoing commitment to austerity and terfery and colonialism means there's not really any hope there. Labour will be competent - unlike the Tories - but also they won't change anything - exactly like the Tories.

Meanwhile, it should be obvious to everyone that the UK electoral system is fundamentally broken and unfair. Labour won fewer votes than last time, and increased its vote-share by a trifling 1.5% - and somehow doubled its seats. Meanwhile the LibDems won close to their fair share: 72 seats from 12% of the vote, but the Greens won just 4 seats off 7% of the vote, and Reform 5 seats with 14%. Its the most disproportionate UK election ever, and the unfairness of it is clear to all. The UK desperately needs to move to proportional representation.

PR will of course mean that Reform - an outright fascist party - is represented in parliament. But it will be represented according to its proportion of the vote. Because the failure mode here isn't proportional representation, but the disproportionate representation given by first-past-the-post. In this election, Labour won two-thirds of the seats on just one-third of the vote. And to point out what should be obvious: Reform (or a similar party) could one day do that too. Proportional representation stops that. Reform (or a similar party) could enter coalition, if other parties are morally bankrupt and willing to work with them (so the UK will need to establish a norm against that, just as Germany has) - but its chances of winning power outright are low. And that's actually some protection. The problem, as always, is convincing the current beneficiaries of that unfair system to change it.