Brexit Party and Lib Dems team up to support electoral reform

Big Ben and Parliament at dusk - CC0 Public Domain

During the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum one of the points of dispute amongst electoral reform campaigners was whether or not to welcome the support of Ukip.

It’s a classic cross-party campaign dilemma: how far do you go in welcoming the support of, and even appearing alongside, those who agree with you on one issue but very much disagree with on others?

For me, the willingness to work with others should be broader for those issues which by their nature require cross-party support, such as the rules under which our elections are run.

So on balance, it is good news that:

The Brexit Party has formed an unlikely alliance with the Liberal Democrats to demand an overhaul of Westminster’s “abysmal” first-past-the-post voting system…

A new effort to ditch the system has been launched by campaign group Make Votes Matter and has also won support from Conservative, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party MPs…

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable… said the current electoral system left “millions of people feeling powerless and excluded”.

He added: “Government is much more likely to act for the common good when politicians and parties are responsive to all the people, not just a few swing-voters in a handful of marginal seats.

“Liberal Democrats have always campaigned for fairer and more democratic elections. I’m delighted members of other parties are working with us in the Make Votes Matter alliance to set out the principles that should shape a new proportional system for the House of Commons.” [Politics Home]

More details of what the parties, along with MPs from other parties, are agreeing to support are on the Make Vote Matters website:

The signatories believe the best way to choose a new voting system for the UK is through a citizen-led, deliberative process – such as a citizens’ assembly.

A citizens’ assembly is a large group of ordinary people selected in a similar way to a jury, but with care taken to ensure it is representative of the population at large. They are given the opportunity to hear from and cross-examine experts, to deliberate and reach recommendations.

Internationally, citizens’ assemblies have been used successfully to make sensible and popular recommendations on a host of complex and controversial issues. As an example, the video below explains how a recent citizens’ assembly successfully broke the longstanding deadlock over reproductive rights in Ireland.

Alternatively, a broader constitutional convention could serve the same purpose, provided it: 1) has a specific focus on electoral reform; 2) has a short, fixed time-frame for recommending a new voting system within the next parliament; and, 3) is genuinely led by citizens rather than a experts, politicians or party appointees.

Crucial to winning the battle over political reform is to remember that the public responds better to talking about outcomes rather than processes.

12 responses to “Brexit Party and Lib Dems team up to support electoral reform”

  1. If Barbara Castle shared a platform with Enoch Powell in the 75 referendum then I don’t see why Lib Dems can’t share a platform with Farage on a common issue

  2. Any serious attempt at a coordinated, cross-party driven electoral and franchise law reform is to be welcomed, imo. It is desperately needed. You only have to read a couple of academic articles, or deal with the problems at the coal face, to realise that what we currently have is not fit for purpose.
    So I hope the remit of the CA/Convention will be wide – and not just FPTP for Westminster and local elections.
    Yours disenfranchised,
    Deborah Newton-Cook

  3. The sad thing is that UKIP were well and truly stuffed by the FPTP system and the democrat in me is appalled by this.
    If we get PR it will be the end of the Tories.

  4. Great news! There are some pretty simple and easy ways we can switch to PR. I think we should halve the number of constituencies but keep the number of MPs at 650, having two per constituency. Parties put up two candidates each, and we vote using STV. Not the most proportional system ever but would be significantly better and a simple switch from the current system.

    • No Jason, because the trigger point to elect one MP under your system would be 33% of the vote plus one. It would still help to reinforce a two party system.

  5. Personally I feel a little sick . This is absolutely not the time to work with these people . You will alienate those of us who have drifted to you from labour –

  6. work with them on one issue, and one issue only, and that is to get this piece of reform. It may, or may not, actually benefit either us or them, but it will certainly bring an end to the nonsense of ‘broad-church’ parties who claim that their fiefdom approach brings ‘strong’ government, but simply hands the power to a small clique of the self-interested and screws the rest of us. The benefit will be for our country by introducing democracy where it has, for so long, been sadly lacking.
    If the citizens assembly can also look at the extent of the franchise, ie: votes at 16, votes for prisoners and votes for ex-pats, then that would be an added bonus.

  7. Appalled that our LibDems are giving this pariah party any respectability–who even in the European Parliament disgrace our country’s traditional good manners by turning their backs on the hymn–I ask you!
    We are seeing an appalling attitude to Jo Swinson’s remarks that she would, among others, be ready to return to a coalition with the Tories. And now this…. I am sad that our party leaders still live in a bubble and don’t see what our natural voters think.

  8. Not convinced now is the right time to work with the Brexit Party since they have no representation in Westminster and are still a one issue party.
    By working with the Brexit party you also risk ailinating people like me who joined after supporting the Tories for fifty years.
    I can however see the attraction because as somebody else above PR would spell the end of the Tories hence whilst they are in office they will never support.

  9. Recent general elections when UKIP got millions of votes but only 1 MP at best were some of the worst examples ever of the effects of FPTP. That meant ignoring the views of many people so the implications of Brexit were never addressed. Democracy is not effective unless everyone has a voice.

  10. Is now really the right time to be forming alliances over an issue that is being rightly overshadowed by brexit? All it does is alienate Centre and Centre left voters. I’ve heard many say they won’t vote Lib Dems due to the coalition years, but I can give a convincing defence of that. It’s difficult to defend a coalition with the party that’s trying to destroy the UK. And what happened the Carlisle City Council coalition with UKIP? Lib Dems should avoid coalitions with far right parties as a matter of policy.

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