Monday, 13 July 2009

Graham Dines: Don't be afraid of the Greens, UKIP and yes the BNP: it's time for pluralism

Graham Dines, political correspondent for the East Anglian Daily Times (one of the few remaining independent-minded newspaper titles in England), says that it would be "refreshing" to have UKIP MPs in Westminster.

He also makes the point that I have made many, many times about the BNP (and to a lesser extent UKIP) that whether or not a political party suscribes to the mainstream agenda, if people vote for them then they have a right to take part in the democratic process and the LibLabCon have an obligation to allow them to without undue hinderance.

Don't be afraid of the Greens, UKIP and yes the BNP: it's time for pluralism

I'M contemplating a flying visit to Norwich to see if there is by-election fever. I suspect not. There's 12 candidates standing, with six no-hopers as well as the Big Six - Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, Green, and BNP.

The UK is becoming a pluralist society. That's why I include UKIP, Green, and BNP among the big hitters. However, without proportional representation, the chances of any of them being elected at a General Election is just about zero. It would take an exceptional local campaign for any of them to make it.

So do we introduce PR and risk the election of the BNP to seats in Westminster? No one should attempt to control democracy, and if enough people back the BNP, that is democracy, no matter how much we might regret it.

And how refreshing it would be to have Green and UKIP MPs striding around the corridors of Westminster. I reckon around a fifth of the electorate would like to see the back of the European Union. Again, establishment politics might tut and fret, but that 20% deserve to have their voices heard in Parliament.

For too long, the Commons has been a cosy club of political consensus. And it's for that reason that I'm coming around to supporting PR as part of a comprehensive updating of Parliament, democracy, and above all, the constitution.

I have asked, in the interests of balance, if Dines might like to include a pro-UKIP blog in his list of political blog sites rather than just the "UKIP Watch" blog run by an anti-UKIP fruitcake. He does, after all, list Iain Dale in his list of blogs who would vote for a single-celled amoeba if it was wearing a tiny, tiny blue rosette. It's only fair.

Whether proportional representation (PR) is the best way of running an election is open to debate. In broad terms I would say yes but there are many variations of proportional variation, some better than others. It would certainly give smaller parties a better chance of getting people elected and in combination with an elected Prime Minister with a cabinet appointed on a PR basis, it would make government more representative.

It would, though, be at the expense of strong government and with escalating tensions between the four nations of the UK, we could have a similar situation that the Belgians had recently where they went six months without a government before the King banged a few heads together and got a caretaker coalition government in for a few weeks to tidy up some loose ends. Which might not be such a bad thing after all ...
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