Wednesday, January 30, 2013


While the UK prides itself as being a birthplace of parliamentary democracy, its democratic structure is in fact utterly backward. First, there's the matter of its unfair electoral system, which sees parties gain absolute power on as little as 35% of the vote. Then there's the question of electoral boundaries - they have no requirement for equal sized electorates. Which means that while they have "one person, one vote", the votes of some are worth decidedly more than others.

The current conservative government had promised to do something about this, with a proposal for an immediate review of electoral boundaries, shrinking the House of Commons to 600 members and ensuring equal-sized electorates. That proposal has now been defeated, with the Liberal Democrats siding with Labour to vote it down. Why? As revenge for the Tories refusing to back a fully elected House of Lords.

None of the parties come out of this looking very good. While reform would result in a fairer, more democratic system, the Tories only proposed it because it would result in electoral advantage to themselves. Labour opposed it for the same reason. And the LibDems, who had originally supported it on principle, voted it down simply out of anger at their coalition partners. Which I guess show show much their "principles" are worth. But in addition to being a display of the grubbier, more despicable side of British politics, it also exposes a very unpleasant truth: that Britain's democracy seems to be essentially unreformable by democratic means. And that is a very dangerous situation for a supposed democracy to be in.