Sunday, 9 May 2010

What is the progressive majority?

Union charm merchant Jack Dromey, now elected as a MP and clear fulfilling the attack dog role, has said on television that Britain is not a Conservative country. Well, if he looks at the figures, England clearly is and the West Lothian question looms large again.

There is now a lot of talk about a progressive majority in the country. This assumes that all Lib Dems are to the left of the centre, whereas those in the rural peripheries where the party is strong are often small 'c' conservatives. One also has to be careful of this sort of logic: on that basis Tony Blair had no majority in 1997.

There is no doubt that the argument over PR has gained some momentum. However, whilst it is preoccupying the political chattering classes, I don't think it's the main topic of conversation among voters.

What we need now is a government that can take decisions and even some people in the Labour Party are recognising that the arithmetic favours the Conservatives. It's poisoned chalice anyway so one would think they would be content to see the Conservatives in power while they regroup.

This is not going to be anything like a five year Parliament and a referendum on PR is not off the agenda. However, if we did have PR we would have to expect events of this kind to be a regular occurrence. With a slightly different outcome, very small parties would have a disproportionate weight and those who argue from fairness should bear that in mind.

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