If this general election has shown us anything conclusively, it's that the electoral system is broken. And it's broken in more than the obvious ways.Democracy takes time.
When Obama was elected, he wasn't supposed to have a working Government until two and a half months later.
When Sarkozy was elected, heassumed office after ten days.
Kevin Rudd had nine days.
Our Dead Tree Press, stock market and twitterverse are collectively having what can only be described as a screaming hissy fit because we didn't have a working, functional government nine hours
after the polls closed.
Fuck that, say I. Take your time, I say. I'd rather have a Government put together with talks and deliberation than hurriedly by two or three middle aged white guys over a pint.
We need a proper grace period between elections and the transfer of power. This is ridiculous.
Not to mention I'm pretty sure it's illegal to lay people off their jobs with this little notice.
Meanwhile, at the moment of writing this, Nick Clegg and his Libdemmers are in continuing talks with the Labservatives about who, if anyone, to form a coalition with in order to proceed. And people are acting surprised that the Liberal DEMOCRAT party keep asking their members what THEY want on the table. It's like we should be surprised when a party that's built on democracy, talking and dialogue actually wants to use these talks in actual politics. I have absolutely no idea how Labour and Tories decide on their policies and action, but I've been more than pleased to hear about the involvment Lib Dem members have enjoyed in this process.Democracy means we all get a vote.
There is an investigation by the Electoral Commision going on, but this deserves repeated so people realise it - is the hundreds and hundreds of voters who didn't get to vote. Who were turned away from the polling station after queuing for hours. Not becasue they turned up too late, but because the polling stations weren't prepared for people to actually want to vote, and the staff manning those stations decided it was more important to close on time than to let people vote.
I can't say this without using capslock, because it can't be said without capslock.
In a WESTERN DEMOCRACY, people were DENIED THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE.
The one thing that we like to pretend democracy is built on: a vote for everyone and everyone gets to vote, was denied for beaurocracy's sake.
Something went horribly horribly wrong, and that's got to be fixed.
It should surprise no one the Liberal Democrat membershiip generally consider this a dealbreaker
because that's what the Lib Dems have been talking about for years. Hopefully the Single Transferrable Vote system. Wikipedia, being occasionally brilliant, has a pretty good example of how this works.
If you, as a voter, vote as your first choice for a party at either end of the majority/minority spectrum, your second and third choice votes have a say, and the parties are elected according to the ir absolute popularity.
Obviously this would mean more power to the Lib Dems, but that's without the point. It's just a more democratic system, and honestly the only reason not to rbing it in is that you're happy with power swinging between Labour and Conservatives based on the policies of "the last lot were rubbish" – the core of the winning campaigns for both Blair and Cameron were this, with no actual substance, it seems. So yes, PR would reduce the power of the Conservatives, but they don't have a strong majority anyway. And frankly, it's not about which party would benefit. It's about what best represents the votes cast by the electorate. 53% of the electorate last Thursday voted for a candidate who didn't win
The last efforts of the Labservative campaign team was to tell us that a vote for the Lib Dems or any minority party, would be a 'wasted' vote, and the general rhetoric concurs with this. In a democracy, no vote should be wasted.
I think I've used a lot of words saying nothing interesting or new, but I do need to add that anyone who argues against Proportional Representation by using either "That'll give the BNP seats in Westminster!" or "That's how the Nazis got into power!" is talking out of the wrong orifice.
Firstly, let me vote directly from the STV Action FAQ
As Enid Lakeman wrote in How Democracies Vote, "Once public opinion had turned to the Nazis, an election under a majority system [e.g.First Past The Post], would have resulted in a landslide in their favour. Under proportional representation, the party never won a majority in the Reichstag in a free election."
Secondly, if the BNP have enough proportional support that they could claim seats under a decent democracy, than that is a sign that racism isrife in our society and we need to fix it. And y'know what? If extremist anti-immigration parties are gaining support, maybe MAYBE it's because the whole rhetoric about immigration in this country (and probably other places) is divisive, harmful and geared towards xenophobia and racism and in the views of a lot of people who don't think foreigners are inherently criminal, the rhetoric has to be changed.
Disclaimer: both Andrew Hickey, who wrote that post, and myself are in relationships with foreigners. This may or may not hide from us the evident-to-everyone-else fact that Foreigners are All Criminals.
Anyway, so the general consensus is that the Lib Dems lost a lot of support because of the things the Dead Tree Scrolls were saying about the Lib Dem's immigration policies, taking the following line from the Lib Dem Manifesto
We would allow people who have been in Britain for 10 years, speak English, have a clean record and want to live here long-term to earn citizenship. That way, immigration officers can spend all their time deporting dangerous people and checking up on employers to stop illegal working" ...and spinning it into the scary scary idea that the Liberals were going to offer a complete amnesty for hardened criminals, instead of just an idea to focus time and resources on actual threats to the country.
Somehow the rhetoric surrounding immigration has reached the point that wishing to live in the place you've lived for over a decade is considered an unforgiveable defence. I kid you not – I even heard someone comparing this to an amnesty on murder.
If enough people are hateful and bitter enough that the BNP has enough support for seats, I say again, than it is our responsibility to figure out where the hate is coming from, not to silence the haters . If we're fostering an environment hate can grow in, then we need to work out how to not foster that environment.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I'd say not equating immigration to murder would be a good start.
Oh, and go read what Millenium Dome
has to say about it all.
FEAR, as the thousand-year-old Fozzie Bear once said, is the path to the DARK SIDE. FEAR leads to HATE, HATE leads to ANGER, ANGER leads to thirteen years of police powers and terrorism acts. Wokka wokka wokka, he added.
What we've seen this last weekend is that people CAN behave like GROWN-UPs when they HAVE to. Wouldn't it be nice if they have to behave like grown-ups ALL THE TIME?