The PM’s sudden interest in a different way of voting looks like the action of a man who is worried that Labour cannot carry on winning under the tried and tested system of first past the post.
Proportional systems have many drawbacks. They lead to more extreme parties with more chance of them securing elected representation. They break the link between some or all Members of Parliament and a constituency. They are more likely to produce weak governments, without majorities. They can give parties more power and people less power over who the elected representatives are. List MPs need to be obedient to party, and are less likely to stand up for the interests of those they represent.They can transfer the decision about who governs from electors, to parties negotiating with each other after an inconclusive election.
The alternative vote system which some favour is not a proportional system. It is a system which allows in any given constituency the backers of the least popular parties the effective right to vote twice, whilst supporters of the more popular parties only vote once. What’s fair about that? Why should the backers of the joke or single subject parties have the right to decide who ends up winning, when that may be someone different from the person who got most first votes?
What we need from the government is action to control the deficit, to get some value out of public spending, to scrap ID cards and regional government, to get powers and money back from Brussels and to cut the bossiness and waste that abounds in Labour’s governing machine. There is a rumour they might at last scrap ID cards – bring on the day. If they do want to get into constitutional reform, they should start with a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as they promised, so we can all tell them what we think about the huge transfers of power they are making to the EU.