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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Proportional Polly parroting.

Seems Polly Toynbee is well aware of what's in store for Labour.
What happens on Thursday night and Friday morning may decide the future of the Labour party for the next 10 or 15 years – or even for ever. Has it the will to live? Or is it dead already and beyond resuscitation? We shall know soon.
We can but hope.
Assume a crushing defeat in next week's elections: everyone does.
Like I said, we can but hope.
Downing Street will call it a frightening failure of democracy, since the Conservatives will do less well than expected, while small parties enjoy a protest flowering. Gordon Brown will rush for an eyecatching cabinet reshuffle: fallers may include Smith and Blears, maybe Darling too, and who knows what other big heads. It must be dramatic enough to dominate the day's headlines. Blunkett back to the Home Office is mooted (by himself, among others). Who knows if Brown will use John Reid or other retreads to amaze, as he did with Mandelson. Anything that makes enough splash to stop the one story that really matters: will the cabinet and leading MPs seize this last chance to sack their failed leader?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, boo fucking hoo (read the whole thing for more whining or, for something more enjoyable, savagely smash your face against the wall a couple of times). The wonderful leader you once adored is, as so many thought, a fucking liability after all and you and your kind are filling your drawers because those around Broon lack the balls to slide the knife in. Well, I wish I could sympathise and despair with you over the state of the labour party, but frankly I'm delighted. The only reason I'm not dancing a jig is the Tories are as just unpalatable, often for the same reasons, and because of the utter cuntishness of Gordon and the gang the fucking Tories are likely to end up with the same sort of solid majority that the UK suffered under during the Blair years, even if for just one term.

But Polly has spotted that problem in a one sided way, though she knows the solution too.
Labour faces annihilation. The party is £11.5m in debt, with no donors – putting it in a firmer grip of a few union barons who themselves represent a smaller fragment of the people than ever. In many hollowed-out local parties, mandated union branches pick the councillors and parliamentary candidates. As the parliamentary democratic deficit is uncovered, Labour sees its own moral corrosion. One in seven MPs begs Brown disgracefully for a peerage: count them out of rebellion. The corruption of party power and patronage was left untouched by Blair. Now the lid is off the whole system, it reeks as never before. If entry through these corrupt doors is the only way a progressive person can hope to enter politics, Labour deserves to die. That's why proportional representation, keeping the constituency link – but with open top-up lists – would force a blast of oxygen into the fetid system.
Yep, Labour does indeed deserve to die, and may the millions who've suffered from it's evil take the opportunity to piss into the coffin at the wake. But PR Polly? Really? Because being the rabid Labour supporter you are I very much doubt you've arrived at this conclusion over any real desire for reform. Could it possibly be because, as we all know, PR both favours small parties and leads to coalition government more often than not - in fact practically guarantees it given the relative support of the big three parties among British voters. In short, PR in the UK is likely to lead to the smallest party holding the balance of power and becoming the tail that wags the dog. So Polly thinks Labour is going to get buried at the next election, which reading between the lines could mean it being the third party behind the LibDumbs, and at the same time she's being supportive of an electoral system that would hand the balance of power to the third party in Westminster. A system that would not only keep Labour in the game but give them the ability to make demands, if not actually make the Labour leader the Parliamentary king maker. Even if Labour remained the official opposition party it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that the LibDumbs will tend to cosy up to Labour rather than the Tories, so it's a win for Labour either way. Coincidence, Polly? Yeah, right, with bells on.

And that's aside from the other problems with PR. Full PR means breaking the link between constituents and their representative at Parliament and also encourages cronyism by means of the inevitable party lists, and the alternative favoured by Pol reduces that but doesn't eliminate it. But the big deal breaker for me is that it's a system favoured only by people afraid of party majorities or who actually have a vested interest in eliminating them. Polly is trying to sell this as good for democracy, but that's bullshit. It's good, very very good indeed, for the Labour party and would give them an excellent chance of being in power or at least pulling some of the levers while simultaneously shutting the Tories out much of the time. I might despise the bastards as much as the other two main parties but at least they're a fucking alternative to some kind of LabLib Reich. For all its faults First Past The Post avoids this: everyone knows who represents them personally in Parliament, you don't end up with the smallest party having more influence than its popularity in the country merits, and the government will usually have a working majority which enables it to actually get things done. Sure, governments having an unfettered ability to get things done isn't always desirable, and is usually pretty undesirable in fact, but there are other ways of dealing with that. A strong and unambiguous Bill Of Rights for one thing, an equally strong upper chamber with real independence from the Commons for another - there are more options besides but those two things alone would be a big check on government power. So what about reform of the Commons? Well, as lots of others are saying (and as per The Plan) there are a few things that can be done to improve accountability of individuals and to reduce the power of parties to make Parliament their whipping boy. Bringing in Single Transferrable Vote or Optional Preference would allow smaller parties a realistic shot at a few seats and should be a disincentive to the big three parties to parachute in unpopular candidates over the wishes of local people. Add a recall process so that a sufficiently large number of pissed off constituents can drag the MP kicking and screaming to a by election and safe seat, which are the root of many problems, would be abolished. The rest - reduced expenses (travel and office stuff only), fewer (far fewer) MPs, no second home allowances etc etc - is, as Pol Pot says, minor stuff. Worth doing, sure, but safe seats are the rotten boroughs of the modern age and with something like two thirds of MPs in one dealing with them should be the priority. Polly's suggestion would do it, but at the cost of a big boost for third party power. And I'd bet that's exactly what the disingenuous boot faced bitch really wants.

UPDATE: Matthew Parris thinks they could end up as the third party too.
After that would come the question of what the modern Labour Party as a third party would be for. Well, what? The link with organised labour is no longer a selling-point. There's no distinctive modern reason for Labour to exist, except as the most electable centre-left alternative to a Tory government. Cease to be that, and they may cease to be anything, and sink very fast indeed.

What, then, if not victory, can be hoped for? What might a new, interim leader achieve? Just a steadying of the ship, a neutralising of hostility, a gentle return of morale within the national party, a decent fight at the next election, and 30 per cent or so in the final poll: ahead of the Lib Dems.

Alan Johnson could achieve all that. I refuse to believe that this shrewd and likeable English working-class moderate would attract the same national animosity as Mr Brown. There is a mood to get Brown. Who can picture a “get Johnson” mood?

I'm not sure Mr Johnson is up to being Prime Minister for long, and I'm not sure he believes so himself. But he's up to navigating the months left before the general election, calming the mood, healing internal wounds, and delivering the party in one piece, and at peace, the other side of that poll.
And in what way is this a good thing you twat? Don't give them any fucking ideas for Christ's sake. Better the weakening of all three of the big parties starting with Labour because they're the evil cunts who got Britain to its knees, and with any luck soon to be followed by the Tories and LibDumbs as Britons gradually wake up and take their freedoms back from these egregious cunts that have ruled - not governed, ruled - for so fucking long.

Well, I can dream, can't I?
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