FPTP and Democracy

A lot of Green Party supporters are expressing anger on social media that the FPTP system is unfair since it has given out parliamentary seats disproportionate to the actual number of votes each party got. For example:

Electoral Reform Society

The first thing to bear in mind about this is that UKIP is the biggest victim of the FPTP system, so we need to be careful about what we wish for.

The second thing to realise is that a proportional representation system is not necessarily any more democratic than FPTP. It is simply a different game: different rules and tactics apply, so you need to think differently about how to make this tokenistic civilian gesture count. But if we were to get a proportional representation system in Britain, that would not suddenly mean we’d have a better democracy.

As we just saw, UKIP got over 3.8 million votes. The Tories got almost 11.4 million votes. Many of those surveyed on election day said they decided to vote for the Tories because they trusted their ability to look after the economy. The Tory myth that the only way out of the financial crisis is austerity has managed to pass as truth in the political debate. That is the problem about Britain’s democracy. Schools teach obedience and productivity over critical thinking and passion. University costs money. Media ownership is highly concentrated in the hands of business moguls who support the tories and their neoliberal ideology (which can be summarised as wanting a strong state to protect corporate interests over those of the working class – which is what both the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP stand for). Workplaces are organised non-democratically and labour markets lack regulation, so everyone is too exhausted by working full time to have energy to deeply learn about politics.

The solution is not a proportional representation system. The solution is:
– Regulate against concentrated media ownership
– Make all schools more like Steiner or Montessori schools
– Make university free
– Legislate for max 6 hour working day
– Make undemocratic workplaces (i.e. non-cooperatives) illegal
– Pay for all this by taxing corporations and rich individuals. At the moment, tax avoidance and tax evasion costs the UK government £95 bn per year. (For comparison, the UK education budget is currently around £60 bn per year*.) Regulating the labour market and media ownership costs nothing. In fact we’d probably see a decrease in health issues resulting from stress and overworking, which would save the NHS money.

 

*Figures from Jubilee Debt Campaign

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