Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Let's look on the bright side

Naturally I am gobsmacked by the past 48 hours, like everyone else. But whatever else about all this, there are some good things:

(1) The Heathrow third runway is definitely off. LibDems and Tories both said they were against it before the election, and the new govt confirms it now on its very first day. They couldn't possibly go back on this. This alone is a great cause for celebration.

(2) Fixed-term parliaments is a huge step forward. This isn't just a recent LibDem demand. Radicals have been campaigning for this for centuries. No longer will the incumbent PM be able to rig the election date to suit his or her short-term party advantage.

(3) As has been widely noted, the Alternative Vote is not designed to be a proportional system (it can't be, because it retains the single-member constituency). But it is a preferential system, so the elector does get a bit more power. Above all, voters need no longer try to second-guess how everybody else in a particular constituency might be voting. Under such a system, we can at least stop worrying about tactical voting (provided the system is properly explained to people). Also, once people have got used to numbering candidates in order of preference, it lends itself to easy conversion to STV at a later stage -- you just have to combine groups of constituencies together.

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