Check out this garbage from the Tories, via William Hague:
“The choice before the Liberal Democrats … is whether to go in with the Labour Party in a government that would not be stable or secure, because it would rely on other minor parties for any parliamentary majority at all; that would have a second unelected prime minister in a row – something we believe would be unacceptable to the great majority of people in this country; – and which would impose voting reform without any consultation with the people of the country, something we believe to be profoundly undemocratic.
“Or they can choose to continue their talks with us, to make a coalition with the Conservative Party, which is on offer, in a government that would have a stable and secure parliamentary majority; a majority of 76 in the House of Commons, something highly desirable in our current economic situation; that would have an elected prime minister in David Cameron, the leader who obtained by far the most votes and seats in the General Election held last week; and which would say that any reform of our voting system must be subject to a referendum of the people of this country.”
How precisely was David Cameron “elected”? Yes, because the liberal vote was split between Labour and the Lib Dems he received more votes than each separately, but he received many many fewer than the two of them combined. His claim to having been “elected” is based on receiving fewer than half the seats, only a third of the vote, and – given that only two-thirds of Britons voted – the support of only two in nine eligible voters.
“Elected” indeed. I do not think that word means what you think it means, Bill.
As for “a referendum” on electoral reform, of course the Tories want that – they know they and their allies in the press could run a scare campaign about change that would have a good chance of defeating it. You probably could, in a situation where the majority of voters don’t really understand the difference between electoral systems and don’t have the time to sit down and think about it, convince them that it’s in their interests for the powerful incumbents to continue to dominate the country without its actual support. “If we have proportional representation our economy will collapse like Greece’s!” they’ll say, and have said, completely ignoring the dire state of the UK economy RIGHT NOW under the poor stewardship of the major parties. They might as well say “under proportional representation we’ll all be forced to speak Greek!” for all the sense of the line, but with the major tabloids screaming the idiocy so loudly that the voters presently disengaged precisely because they’ve given up on politics can’t think straight through all the noise, the lies and the smears and the half-truths and the outright misrepresentations – well, no wonder the Tories think they can get away with a “referendum”.
But this is the point: there’s nothing undemocratic about the government – and we’d be talking here about a majority of MPs very recently “elected” passing that measure in the national parliament – imposing a democratic system “without consultation” (without further consultation), provided that the results actually are democratic. Which, if they involved full proportional representation, multi-member electorates and preference voting, they would be. (They’d be even more democratic if they made voting compulsory, but maybe that’s one step too far for present Britain.) You can’t say that something’s “undemocratic” when the only change it would make is that voters would have an equal say in their government; that the parliament would clearly match what voters actually said when they cast their ballots.
The only way through this mess is for Nick Clegg to stay strong and resist the threats of the Powers That Be. His voters demanded one thing above all: real electoral reform. If he caves, then he’ll be no better than the old parties they trusted him to challenge.
UPDATE (14/5): Well, he did cave, and now the chances of real electoral reform look dim indeed. Consider – if the new Coalition is successful, then there goes the pressure for change. If it isn’t, then the line will be that coalitions cannot work and we must avoid proportional representation because it’ll make them more likely. Damned if it works, damned if it doesn’t.