Ozzy's Corner

A view from the Libertarian Left. With no spin


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How PR could be Labour’s next radical reform

Unless the opinion polls are wrong on an massive scale, it’s likely that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will be massively defeated by a coalition of Theresa May’s Conservatives and former UKIP voters fleeing their rapidly sinking ship.The Tory lead of 15-20% predicted could produce a landslide for the Prime Minister with a parliamentary majority of over 100.Labour MPs could be reduced to well under 200 in number.

It would easy to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this (and many Labour MPs surely will), but the truth is Labour has been suffering from a long term decline, at least for the last ten years. The big tent that held together Dennis Skinner and Tony Blair has fragmented and split.

Labour and the Conservatives stride across our FPTP landscape, one where only two parties can be in contention. The political ecosystem squeezes out smaller parties. Yet times are changing. These two predators once enjoyed over 90% of the vote within living memory, but have in recent years had to survive on slimmer pickings, with the support of barely two thirds of the electorate. There is simply not enough food for the two dominant dinosaurs any more.In addition to less votes to fight over, the political tectonic plates have been shattered by two earthquakes – the 2007/2008 banking crisis and Brexit.

The Labour dinosaur is dying. Once confident and strong, it is wobbling badly. Those previously willing to tactically support it are standing aside. If propping up a dying beast is pointless, perhaps the best thing is to let it die sooner rather than later. Westminster politics is a zero sum game. There are a finite number of MPs and a finite number of voters. If a great tree crashes down, on the exposed ground where it lay, fed from the rotting trunk and new sunlight, new life can form. Left and centre-left voters would be free to build a new party or parties, better equipped for the new world.

Labour has a great tradition of radical reform, and herein lay an opportunity to forge a new democratic future for the country, just like it forged the NHS and Welfare State. Instead of refusing to adapt or change, and just die away, it could become the party to create a new democratic system. Proportional Representation would undermine the inherent benefit the Conservative Party enjoys. Of course, we need a FPTP winner to bring this about, and it therefore must be led by the Conservatives or Labour. Conservative turkeys won’t vote for Christmas.

Labour could become the party dedicated to reform the system. By committing to PR, Labour would attract voters from across the centre left. A Labour Party asking for non-Labour voters to lend their vote, to win the election to smash our out of date system, would be fresh, exciting and relevant. Labour will always be remembered for creating the NHS – it changed Britain. The 1945 Labour Government was a radical reforming Government.
By promoting a radical change to our democratic system, Labour could do that again.

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