This interview on the BBC’s “Daily Politics” programme with former Labour cabinet minister & now No2AV frontliner David Blunkett was bought to our attention by Anthony Butcher on his I Support AV website recently. Alongside the usual bluster & false rhetoric about minority party voters getting more than one vote (with the usual misleading & tiresome use of the BNP to scare the undecided away from genuine reform), & also a comment intended to make himself look like someone who wants greater voting reform despite his real stance of being pro FPTP, the interview sheds some light on the true attitude & thought-process of those who have done well out of the broken First Past the Post system, & who desperately want to keep it.
You can view it on the BBC News website here.
The most revealing part is about 2 minutes in. The interviewer, Jo Coburn, tackles him on the supposed fairness of FPTP, & his answer is actually quite startling-
Jo Coburn: The Labour party won the 2005 election with just 36% of the vote, which translated into 57% of the seats, how is that fair and representative?
David Blunkett: Well I think that the nation got what the nation really wanted at that time and they still wanted a Labour Government after eight very successful years. In 2010 the nation clearly no longer wanted Labour in power and they got what they wanted…. I think that system has stood us in very good stead. It has reflected the will of the nation over and over again. On this occasion it has reflected the will of the nation to end up with a coalition.
To me, Blunkett’s view of this situation could politely be at best described as incredibly & single-mindedly loyal to his party’s interests. Put plainly though, his views are irrational & reek of pure, naked self-interest in the name of his party. The 2005 election result did not reflect the will of the voting public, for the simple statistical fact that only 36% of the electorate voted for the party that won the majority of seats to claim overall victory. As Anthony Butcher points out-
Such is the mindset of an establishment politician; 35.3% of the national vote is “the will of the nation”. Never mind the 64.7% of people, the majority, who voted for something else.
But how many people really changed their minds from 2005 to 2010? The Labour vote dropped by 6.3% and the Conservative vote rose by 3.8%. According to the No campaign, a six percent swing represents the ‘will of the nation’.
This is the same argument that they use to support FPTP at a local level. If an MP is elected, like Phil Woolas, on 32.9% of the vote, then that must be the will of the constituency. Forget the fact that more than two thirds of people voted for someone else.
It seems that our establishment politicians and the NO2AV campaign have simply forgotten the meaning of democracy. They no longer understand the principle of a majority. They have been elected for so long under our ‘plurality’ system that they have confused this with having popular support.
Blunkett finishes the clip with the quote used in the title for this piece- it’s seems that even though he admits that FPTP the post is a “strange, almost mystical” way to run elections, we should keep it because he thinks it works. It might have worked in his interests, but the results of at least the past 2 elections & especially 2010 tell a quite different & rather unfair story to the rest of us.
You can read Anthony Butcher’s article here.