BFP columnist Colin Baker is best known as BBC's Dr Who. Here he gives his view on the issues of the day.
We, the British public surprise ourselves constantly by defying the odds and knowing best. However much politicians may suggest we can’t be trusted to vote on things like capital punishment (apparently we’d bring back hanging, drawing and quartering, if we got the chance), we constantly find ways of proving that prejudice misguided.
But it can often take far too long to dislodge the paternalistic Nanny State attitude of those who rule us. There is certainly a widely held belief that on certain emotive issues, there would be a majority in favour of all sorts of controversial issues that we are only allowed a vote on when the likely outcome is expected to coincide with the ruling party’s view.
But we, the great unwashed, have responded by moving slowly into a position where the uneasy coalition will become the governmental norm rather than the exception. As the major parties coalesce into a vote-seeking middle ground and principle becomes obscured by pragmatism, the need for a reformed voting system becomes steadily more apparent.
The present system offers not really even a ‘General’ Election. It is a lot of local elections, 650 of them to be precise. And if you live in one of those 500-and-odd constituencies in which likelihood of a change of MP exists only when the previous incumbent retires or goes off to do something else, your electoral X contributes as much to deciding the occupancy of 10 Downing Street as my dog did to the design of the Great Hadron Collider. At the last election the Conservatives would have had a working majority had only a very few thousand people voted differently in the key marginals.
This is why a system of voting that removes the need to vote tactically must eventually emerge if we are to remain truly democratic. The First Past the Post method has been serviceable until recently, but arguably no longer produces the fairest reflection of what the voters actually want.
There are several contenders to replace it. The Alternative Vote System, Proportional Representation and a complicated but interesting system, the Condorcet Method. If we are to re-engage the disengaged and generate an interest in politics in the young, something radical needs to be done. I would suggest that working to find a way in which our votes really do ALL count might be a sensible and enfranchising first step.
- High Wycombe voters will be given their chance to grill their next Wycombe MP at our hustings events tomorrow night. The Bucks Free Press will present a Question Time style debates at Bucks New University at 7pm. The event will be chaired by Colin Baker.
To give yourself the best chance of getting your question answered, submit your questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org