PR is too important to be left to the politicians

Friday, 22nd July


All votes should count and count equally

• THE big argument in favour of PR, proportional representation, is that all votes should count and count equally.

The same cannot be said of FPTP, first-past-the-post. Opponents like Martin Plaut (What would STV do to democracy, July 8) ignore this and attack specific versions of PR they think are vulnerable; in this case multi-member single transferable vote, STV.

In doing so he ignores the UK’s history. Prior to 1885 the country had a mixture of single-member borough constituencies (towns) and multi-member county constituencies (countryside) with two or more members per county.

How did an elector in a county constituency hold an MP to account? And is the same not
true at local level with multi-member wards?)

When Britain set up a separate Irish parliament in 1918 they bequeathed it STV in an attempt to allow the unionist minority representation. (After partition in 1921 they didn’t feel the
non-unionists in the north needed this.)

The Irish government twice held referendums to switch to FPTP but the electorate rejected both. They liked proportional representation.

All the new bodies set up in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London have used some form of PR, either STV or the AMS, additional member system.

I will conclude by repeating my point that politicians should not determine the final form of PR adopted as they will be influenced by how easily they will be returned under the new system.


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