Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What's the problem with PR for Labour?

I meant to comment on this - a jointly-authored article by John Cruddas and Jon Trickett - yesterday, but didn't get round to it.
"We have become too distant from crucial bases of support, including manual workers, public sector employees, trade unionists and black and ethnic minority voters. But we have also failed to energise the progressive middle class. We need to focus more on policy areas that matter to these groups - such as our threadbare public transport, the casualisation of workplaces, deepening concerns about the anxious state of modern childhood, rising personal debt and an all-pervasive feeling that our lives are running out of control."
Now, there's a paragraph that was written by committee if ever there was one. I'd agree with most of it, as it happens - (with, perhaps, a qualification on the debt issue - I think that rising personal debt has some progressive upsides), but it highlights the problem that the left has.

They're arguing that Labour ought to take these concerns seriously. But it is very unlikely that these are the issues that Labour's election strategists will really be worried about.

Whenever I argue with fellow lefties about proportional representation, one of the main objections is that it will make it impossible for Labour to enjoy untrammelled power. Well, we have it at the moment, but daren't exercise it. And PR could shift the key demographics and make Labour want to appeal to the groups that Compass thinks that it ought to appeal to.

I don't understand the arguments against PR personally. Any ideas?

1 comment:

donpaskini said...

One difficulty is that there is not one thing called 'PR', there are lots of different possible voting systems. I don't like the idea of breaking the constituency link (which would further decrease opinions of politicians, imo).

Is there evidence from countries with PR that they spend more time on these groups? One thing which would make a much bigger difference than changing the voting system would be compulsory voting.