Monday, May 01, 2006

Britain 'needs compulsory voting' like being beaten to death with a aubergine

The IPPR has decided that we 'need compulsory voting'. Their reasoning (according to the BBC) is to encourage politicians to engage with all of the electorate, rather than just the 'core vote'.

I think Britain needs compulsory voting like it needs carpet-bombing with lead aubergines. I agree with Mr Hoon that we must consider radical measures to renew our democracy... falling turnouts should concern us all but, like all-women shortlists, compulsory voting superficially papers over the problem without actually addressing the causes. It's not only the illiberal 'solution' but isn't a solution at all because it never identifies why people weren't turning out in the first place.

The liberal solution is to introduce proportional representation so political parties have to try to appeal to all voters and not just a small number of floating voters in a few (mostly SE, middle-class) constituencies. This would have four benefits:
  • Votes would count in previously 'safe' constituencies. This would make people more likely to come out and vote
  • 'Safe' Labour constituencies are some of the poorest in the country. Since a turnip in a red rosette (or John Prescott) can get elected under the current system, policies don't need to appeal to the poorest because their votes don't matter. Under PR, their votes would count.
  • The more people who can swing the election, the broader the 'centre' ground. The broader the centre, the more political parties can put clear water between themselves and the other parties. Distinguishing between parties would become about more than management and advertising. Advertising, after all, is presenting an idea - it's not an idea. Turnout would go up since the electorate would no longer feel political parties were 'all the same'
  • If the race to government has more than two horses in it, then political advertising has to be more detailed than "Vote for us, we're not the other lot". Again, more need to engage with ideas and less with who has the most hair.


  • At 11:20 am , Blogger Chris Palmer said...

    I thought you lot had died or something after March.

  • At 7:08 pm , Blogger Raw Carrot said...

    I trust you are willing to accept that the BNP will do better under PR? You won't ban them or anything? Just checking...

  • At 6:59 am , Blogger Femme de Resistance said...


    a) The BNP don't seem particularly good at training their councillors, etc. or delivery as councillors from the various news stories so hopefully the electorate will get fed up on their own
    b) But mainstream political parties need to get their act together about tackling the underlying causes of why people vote BNP. Trying to prosecute/ban the BNP is not the way to do this


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