Friday, January 28, 2011

Democracy and the Alternative Vote

There has been much talk this week about the number of Old Etonians in government in the UK. I can't be doing with this kind of obsessive inverted snobbery, especially when it emanates from a prat like Andrew Neil. People pay an arm and a leg to send their kids to Eton College, that should be applauded. What finer start in life could you give your kids than a top class education? Why else do we work other than to improve life for us and our families? But the leftist class warriors want to knock it, they obviously think that paying for a fortnight in Benidorm every year is more socially acceptable than paying to educate your kids.

Then my mind wandered to Cameron, Osborne and Clegg, all educated at public schools and Oxbridge. I'm no fan of any of them, but that is down to their brand of social democracy, nothing to do with their backgrounds or where they were educated. The thought of some of some of the products of our state education system ruling us does send a shiver down my spine, more so than people who have been educated privately.

So that got me thinking about democracy. I'm not going to bang on for 300,000 words or more about the subject, easily possible when you consider the intricacies and wide range of what people call 'democracy', but want to consider my gut reaction this week to what we in the UK consider democracy. Here it is in a nutshell. Every five years, or less, we put a cross on a piece of paper. Last year we put a cross on a piece of paper and this was the result:

Conservatives-306 seats. 36.1% of the vote.
Lib Dems-57 seats. 23% of the vote
Labour-258 seats. 29% of the vote.
Others-28 seats. 11.9% of the vote.

So with only 6% more of the popular vote the Labour Party ended up with 201 seats more in the House of Commons than the Liberal Democrats. I can't see, no matter how hard I try, that this current system is particularly democratic. Especially when we end up being governed by two parties, in coaliton, that claimed to be diametrically opposed during the election campaign.

I will be voting for AV when we eventually get our AV referendum, but I don't think AV goes far enough. My preference would be for the UK to adopt a Swiss style constitution. In the twenty first century we must have the wherewithall to offer the people of the UK a much more open, representative and accountable system of government than the one we currently suffer.

It is not that we are governed by Old Etonians that concerns me. What concerns me is that our system has allowed a political class to become entrenched that believes it has a God given right to rule us whether we voted for them or not. 

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