Monday, 6 December 2010

Tristram Hunt is wrong

There is a report that  that Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt has signed a cross party letter attacking the change to a voting system- the alternative vote- as a " alternative that nobody wants". As someone who worked for him in the General Election here is one person who dearly wants to see the end to the fundamentally undemocratic "first past the post system" we have now.

As a historian perhaps Tristram in defending the present constitutional arrangements might know the following quote from our past

"I am fully convinced that the country possess, at the present moment, a legislature which answers all the good purposes of legislation, —and this to a greater degree than any legislature ever has answered, in any country whatever. I will go further, and say that the legislature and system of representation possess the full and entire confidence of the country".

I am unaware of whether Tristram likes being compared to the ultra reactionary Duke of Wellington speaking against 19th century parliamentary reform, but the same sense of complacency resonates across the centuries. Like the 1830s we have a rotten political system where votes do not count equally.. Like the 1830s power effectively lies in the hands of an out of touch political establishment- the "thing"- as one of the Duke’s contemporaries William Cobbett called it; and like the 1830s we have a situation where political seats can be bought and sold by the grandees of the country.

One simple fact that may have escaped the political class represented by John Prescott, David Blunkett, Bill Cash and John Redwood and it seems Tristram Hunt is that the proportion of people who vote for the two main parties has fallen from around 90% in the 1960s to 65% in the 2010 election. The general public have turned away from the old politics and have been doing so for years. I am a member of the Green Party which at its annual conference, despite some misgivings ,democratically voted to support the Yes to AV campaign as a small step to the wider reforms that we need.

Britain is no longer a two party system; it is time to upgrade our electoral system to match.