We need PR to heal the nation’s wounds

In my more paranoid moments I’m inclined to think that the Brexit vote last year was a front for another, more sinister, agenda.

It split the country right down the middle. In this age of the polarisation of wealth and austerity, what better way to secure a continuation of the same destructive, neoliberal policies, than by having the nation at war itself?

I’m also starting to wonder if our electoral system isn’t also designed to create conflict.

This occurred to me after a squabble I had with an old friend. She’s a very committed Green Party activist who stood as a candidate in the last election.

I was very upset by this, as it seemed to me that all she could hope to achieve would be to take votes from the Labour Party; which, if you remember, looked all set to suffer a major electoral defeat at the time.

I sent her an angry letter accusing her of party tribalism. Later, after the election, she came to visit me, and we had another squabble: or “a passionate debate” as she prefers to call it.

I told her that the Green Party is basically self-righteous and middle-class. It is self indulgent to support it as it has no social base and is incapable of changing anything. She snapped back that, until we have no-growth policies and electoral reform, the world is doomed to destruction.

The argument went on like this for maybe half an hour or more and, although we parted in a friendly manner, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

It’s true that the Green Party has very little social base: unlike the Labour Party, which was created by the working class and still retains a large measure of working class loyalty.

But therein lies the Labour Party’s weakness. Being a working class party, the most important thing for Labour voters is jobs, and it doesn’t really matter what kind of jobs those are. Jobs in the arms industry, or in the nuclear industry, say, are just as good as jobs in the NHS.

We need the Green Party to act as a counter-balance to this: to speak for the environment.

We also need all the other parties as well. We need communists and socialists and anarchists, anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists. We need the SNP and Plaid Cymru, the DUP and Sinn Fein. We need the Lib Dems, the Women’s Equality Party and the National Health Party. We even need Ukip, which, despite it’s Little Englander mentality, still represents a distinct strand of opinion within the British electorate. We need all of these parties because we need a Parliament which can speak for the whole of the British people, and not just the neoliberal elites who are currently in control. That means we need proportional representation (PR), so that every vote counts and every individual can feel personally involved in the democratic process.

It’s the first past the post system that leads to this endless to-ing and fro-ing between what are essentially variations of the same neoliberal policies. The ruling elites have all the newspapers and the media, the lawyers and the spin-doctors, the social weaponry, the gadgets, the resources, the time, the expertise, the hackers and software developers, the neoliberal infiltrators, to undermine any future Labour government.

The party of the ruling class, the Conservative Party has all the resources it needs but an ageing and fast declining social base. The electorate, meanwhile, is bitterly divided. Only PR can hope to bring us back together.

But it will still take a Labour government to deliver it.



One comment

  1. I agree that we should have PR so that all sorts of parties, or interest groups or individuals can have a chance of being elected to parliament. That is real democracy. The phrases social base and party tribalism seem interchangeable. We each decide, ‘I belong to/will join this group’ depending on our judgement. By electing to join one we reject all the others. As pack animals we all like to find or need to find a tribe…


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