Tuesday, 28 June 2016

As usual, minorities will suffer as our democracy is compromised

Brexit will have many consequences, few of them good for the people of this country or of Europe. Whichever consequence one looks at, it will be the result of a referendum sought only by UKIP but offered gratuitously by David Cameron seeking an answer to a simple question yet with no explanation as to what policies would lie behind the change option, least of all how the interests of people affected would be taken into account. We are said to live in a representative democracy, in which parliament is sovereign, with elected members there to speak for their electorate. These should have decided on the issue on our behalf. We now see the result of by-passing our system of governance.

The great failing of UK's first-past-the-post election system is that there are always millions of citizens whose views have no outlet. MPs are supposed to be the member for all constituents and often are - except when it comes to applying their party policy as priority. So in any non-marginal, the safely incumbent party can ignore the viewpoints or concerns of those who do not vote for them, leaving millions disenfranchised. If the ruling party decides to hit the interests of disabled people, what recourse will the latter have if their MP belongs to that party?  After Brexit, how will universities, farmers, construction businesses, hospitals, find or reassure staff, when the government exists to implement tighter immigration controls? Who will speak up for creative talent or manufacturers whose international markets will be shut down?

Now, the last opportunity for those who live in politically hostile constituencies to have a meaningful vote - elections to the European Parliament, in which everyone's vote has counted under the list system - will be closed forever. It is surely time in these circumstances to review the electoral system for post-Brexit Britain, to enfranchise everyone and deliver a more inclusive democracy. Meanwhile, for Labour supporters living in non-Labour rural and coastal communities, Labour Coast and Country offers one cross-boundary network in which to have a voice.

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