PR Will Kill the Red Tories 71

The essence of Conservatism is that people doing quite nicely out of the current system do not want anything to change, in case the consequences are not good for them. That is why John Stuart Mill said the Conservatives would be better named “The Stupid Party”. Conservatism does not require a thought process. Generally it does require a callousness towards those not doing well out of the current system.

Radicalism is more diffuse. Its essence can be a cold certainty of the rationalist ability to calculate risk and consequence. Or it can spring from romanticism, the gambler’s instinct, or plain having nothing to lose. (In my case, all of the above).

The First Past the Post electoral system is a historic relic not fitted to a modern society. But by definition elected politicians have done rather well out of it, so have no incentive to change. With the neo-conservative consensus embracing all the main Westminster parties, it doesn’t make any difference who governs us apart from the question of which particular snouts are in the trough, which is no help to the man in the street.

Then along we come in the SNP and challenge some of the pillars of neo-conservatism, like the possession of vast hordes of nuclear warheads, the utility of ever increasing wealth inequality, a pre-Keynesian, Thatcherite attitude to public finance, and trying to get our way in the world by bombing poorer peoples. The SNP has managed to gather enough support for a radical agenda to pass the FPTP tipping point and for the system to work massively in our favour in Scotland. Cue massed panic in the Westminster establishment, including the corporate media. For the first time in a generation, people have appeared on a main television channel arguing that possession of weapons of mass destruction by the UK is not a good thing.

Whole sections of the Establishment have therefore woken up, for all the wrong reasons, to the fact that FPTP is a bad system. Yet neither the Blue nor the Red Tories are likely to embrace proportional representation.

The Blue Tories will not embrace PR because they are the Stupid Party. There is a right wing majority in England. If you separate Scotland, then UKIP and the Conservatives have about 48% of the vote in England compared to about 42% for Labour plus the Greens. I have left the Lib Dems out, though post Clegg they might fairly be added to the conservative total. Because of this right wing majority outside Scotland, PR would keep the Tories in government almost all of the time, though generally in coalition.

By contrast the Red Tories would be stuffed by PR. There just is not enough support for them, even after five years of a very unpopular coalition government. The reason there is not enough support for them is that they do not offer any kind of real alternative in policy. More austerity, more nukes, just fronted by an even less appealing set of neo-con “personalities” than the Conservatives in Miliband, Balls, Cooper, Murphy and Alexander.

What the SNP have shown is that there is a real public hunger for a more radical politics. PR would be the death of the Labour Party because the large majority of its voters lend the party their support purely to keep the Tories out, not because they are enthused by the policies or the line-up. PR would give the chance for a genuinely radical alternative to grow. There are legions of Labour supporters who would love to vote Green but fear it would let the Tory in. Under PR, other left alternatives besides the Greens would soon blossom. The Red Tories don’t actually have a unique offering to the public. There is not really a market niche for another set of Tories. They are maintained entirely by the inertia of the FPTP system. And they know it.

Expect a lot of angst about FPTP following major SNP gains. But do not expect the Establishment to do anything about it – the status quo suits them fine.

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71 thoughts on “PR Will Kill the Red Tories

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  • Daniel

    I’m one of the extremely reluctant Labour voters from England who would prefer to vote Green but recognize that to do so would increase the likelihood of another Tory-led government which would be a disaster for the English working class. It will be a close run contest in my constituency between the red and blue Tories, so I feel as though I’m obliged to vote tactically. It shouldn’t be this way but sadly it is. Posters may recall, that in the AV referendum of 2011 the people voted against, thereby cutting dead in its tracks the potential catalyst for the introduction of PR.

  • Leon's lapbone

    Q.E.D.! Fred has never heard of MMT, he’s scared of the thought of exposure to it, so he’s bound to be a Labour tool for life. Knows the word argument, but can’t do it. Knows the word fuck, but can’t do that either, by all reports.

  • fred

    “I wonder if Fred is actually hoping to influence a single vote here?”

    So which part of my post are you claiming wasn’t true?

    I just report the news, it’s up to others if they want to believe the intimidation of candidates is being organised by Campbell Gunn or not, I didn’t say anything either way.

  • fred

    “Q.E.D.! Fred has never heard of MMT, he’s scared of the thought of exposure to it, so he’s bound to be a Labour tool for life. Knows the word argument, but can’t do it. Knows the word fuck, but can’t do that either, by all reports.”

    So which part of “fuck off and die” didn’t you understand then retard?

  • Robert Crawford

    Phil it is about 17.6 trillion quid and 6,600 million acres of land, and owning whole countries, and killing people and animals. Among other things.

    Does that interest you?

  • fred

    “So, to be clear, you are saying that a free-to-all NHS is a right wing policy. Yes?”

    Yes. Harold Wilson tried abolishing prescription charges but soon realised his mistake and not only reintroduced them he doubled them.

    Socialism is about the rich subsidising the poor not the poor subsidising the rich.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    Node: “So, to be clear, you are saying that a free-to-all NHS is a right wing policy. Yes?”

    Fred : “Yes.”

    OK. Interesting.
    So is the privatisation of the NHS a left wing policy?

  • Clydebuilt

    Was in a newsagent this am, served by a normal working class woman ……. I was getting a copy of The National”…….she said that’s a good paper…all that Labour can do is scare on another referendum………. I pointed out we were in a strong Orange area…..and that it’s changing ……..she shouted aloud “Scotland’s Changing ” ….Sign of the times

  • John Wellington

    Hello Craig,

    Indeed the FPTP electoral system was never in any danger as long as it seemed to deliver the two party state with the simplistic adversarial politics that resulted. But as you rightly point out, the decline in the vote for the two major parties is bringing other parties and coalition politics. This wasn’t supposed ever to happen under FPTP. Now that it has, it is even more undemocratic than it was as very minor swings in voter sentiment can produce profound changes in Parliamentary representation. As you note, for Scotland the outcome will be remarkable, and highly undemocratic. The electorate now have now way at all to predict what the outcome of their individual votes will be. It is urgent that a form of PR is now introduced – a Royal Commission should be appointed forthwith to investigate alternative and put it to the citizens in the form of binding referenda. I think though that your writing off of Labour under this system is wrong, it will adapt to the changed circumstances, the Greens obviously would gain a lot by PR and are the natural coalition partners of Labour.

    I should add that with the Palace of Westminster literally crumbling, during the renovations the debating chamber of the House of Commons should be remodelled to reflect this new reality, no Government / Opposition benches but a seat for every member in a less oppositional forum. There are plenty of examples around the world, including of course in Edinburgh. Not that the Palace of Westminster’s arrangements might interest an independent Scotland, but I am not writing this from a parochial concern.

  • Googler

    It seems like such a no-brainer, but as always there will be those defeatist sheep who regard the Greens as a wasted vote and end up voting Labour, alas, and there will be those who are so mentally challenged to begin with that they will vote Labour or something even scarier. This is the way of the world, and if it weren’t, the Greeks would never have invented the art form of tragedy.

  • glenn

    Fred : Kindly stop thinking there’s something so special about yourself, whenever you get a negative jibe, that you can make free with language that makes this blog an embarrassment. JHC – are you so precious, that you can drag a blog down with childish obscenities, and yet still consider your positions serious?

    Try talking to another person like that face to face, and you wouldn’t find it becoming a habit – we both know that. Yet you do it freely online, anonymously, to all and sundry. What does that make you?

    This “Flame me and I’ll flame you” crap is well past its sell by date. Come on, you are surely better than this.

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