Following recent events related to the EU referendum campaign and the result itself. As one who voted REMAIN by postal vote sometime before the 23rd June I am disappointed by the result and would still have voted REMAIN on the day.
The assassination of Jo Cox by a lone wolf who exclaimed “Death to Traitors.. Free Britain” saddened and shocked virtually the whole country. Those of us who perhaps did not agree with Jo’s views accept that she was a truly compassionate human being and excellent MP whose life was cut short by a thoroughly unpleasant person who though may be mentally disturbed knew exactly what he was doing. His views though unpalatable are shared by a sizeable minority of the population; the overwhelming reason for voting LEAVE does appear to be related to immigration..
Since the referendum result there has been a barrage of statistical analysis showing which groups voted which way. The majority of REMAIN voters seem to have voted positively to remain, The LEAVE voters have mixed motives including a genuine dislike of a flawed EU, a concern about immigration or a chance to tell the establishment to listen. It has now come to light that a significant number of LEAVE voters really wanted a close REMAIN result; close enough to make Westminster and Brussels listen; they did not expect LEAVE to win and now regret the way they voted. There has even been a petition calling for a rerun of the referendum, of the 28% who chose not to vote some feel they should be given another chance. In hindsight the referendum should never have been called and whole matter decided by parliament. Michael Heseltine speaking on 27th June said the Nigel Farage had said that a further referendum should be run in the event of a close result.
The underlying reason for a divided society has to be due to a long standing disconnection between the establishment and a large part of the population. The reasons for this disconnection need to be recognised and addressed sooner rather than later. Similar disconnections are also present across Europe and in the USA.
Changes to the wider education system over recent years have led to a growing under class of people who feel undervalued and ignored. Latterly this has been recognised though too little too late. A lack of skilled craftsmen caused by the virtual abandonment of apprenticeships, though now starting to be addressed. This lack of skilled tradesmen has meant that many immigrants are better able to fill jobs that in the past local people would have taken. An over emphasis on academic rather than practical ability has led to an imbalance in the labour pool. Young people are being pressured into going to university to get degrees, often of little relevance to their eventually careers, further compounded by a debt burden at the start of their adult life.
Far better a system of vocational on the job training we had until the 1970’s. Qualifications still need to be earned but earned in such a way that when the final exams are passed the candidate is well suited to life after study. The most effectively way to achieve this is to bring back the concept of sandwich courses mixing work and study. This used to be done not just for craft apprenticeships but also for law, accountancy, nursing, policing and other career paths. It may take a little longer to gain the qualification but it would be achieved without debt and with work experience; the person being useful immediately. With this approach over time there would be less need for immigrant labour and improved mobility for more of our working people across Europe and the world.
The whole balance of the economy has for too long relied too much on the service sector letting manufacturing become a much smaller part of the economy. The correct balance between service and manufacturing sectors is difficult to achieve. For many it has been evident that in Britain manufacturing has been written down more so than in many other countries. Governments of both persuasions have done little address this issue. Given the right leadership British workers have shown themselves to be just as capable as those in other countries. It may be cheaper to manufacture overseas but when the social costs of plant closures are taken into consideration the equation is far more equal. Industries once lost are all but impossible to revive. The decline in manufacturing started in the 1950’s with the textile industry; complacency in the motoring and other heavy industries led to their collapse. The motor industry has since flourished under foreign ownership demonstrating that with the right leadership British factories can be world beating.
The next aspect to address is why so many people feel disengaged from politics. So many of us who do vote, vote for a losing candidate effectively meaning apart from a statistic our vote is wasted. A vote for a winning candidate in whom you don’t really believe in equally wasted. The first-pass-the-post system was suited to a two party system but in a multiparty system it generally results in majority governments elected by a minority of voters. Many voters often feel aggrieved and disenfranchised. The system should allow every vote to count which implies a variant of Proportional Representation.
Recently a young man (Owen Winter) organised a “Make votes fairer” petition which was sent to David Cameron. The predictable response referred back to the flawed AV referendum saying there was no need for a change. The Conservative and Labour parties know that with PR neither of them would ever again have a majority in government; one of them would likely be the largest party but they would have to work in coalition not with unfettered power to pass less popular legislation with no need to compromise. There was a general election in the 1960’s when Labour and Conservative polled a similar number of votes yet the party with the lesser number of votes had more seats due to the constituency demographic. Even with just two parties FPTP is not always fair allowing boundaries to favour one side unfairly.
The arguments against PR are that it would break the link between MP’s and their constituencies as well as leading to weak government. PR has served Germany well taking them from a defeated and divided nation to the leading economy in the EU. There is no need to break the constituency link if MPs are split and say a third directly elected (FPTP as now) and one third made up by a balanced list. The size of parliament is about right at 600 MP’s 400 to be directly elected and the remaining 200 being made up from party lists also electorate controlled. This could be done easily by adding up all the votes cast and working out how many of the 600 seats each party should get. There will be times when a party already exceeds its fair quota through direct election in which case that party would not have any list members allocated. Having decided the number of list seats each party is entitled to the list members should be chosen based on the number of votes they actually received. Allowing party administrators to cherry pick list members would be undemocratic. This may seem complex but mathematically it is very simple and very fair. Every vote would count giving a parliament which more closely reflects the will of the electorate. The scourge of “tactical voting” to keep someone you don’t like out removed allowing everyone to vote for the candidate they wanted. Even though many of us may never vote for our directly elected MP we would know that our votes count in the make up of the balanced list. Low electoral turnout has for many years been a worrying factor, the current system contributes to this.
Turnout in the EU referendum was higher than normal but the manner in which the campaign was conducted filled with a combination of fear and mis-information. Even the most aware of us found it very hard to make a genuinely informed decision. A very important decision made under inappropriate circumstances which we now have to live with. The fall out from the referendum has led to both Conservative and Labour parties being in a state of crisis with neither party fit to govern leaving a dangerous vacuum at the top.
In conclusion their must be a fairer voting system, less arrogance from leaders in the UK and Europe, an end to short term think in government and boardrooms. A second EU referendum should not be ruled out.
Merseymog Wed 29-Jun-16 12:21:24
Anya Wed 29-Jun-16 12:35:34
Anya Wed 29-Jun-16 12:37:01
Luckygirl Wed 29-Jun-16 12:47:34
M0nica Wed 29-Jun-16 13:15:55