It has been a rollercoaster of a week for me. I genuinely feel like I haven’t had a day to just sit and think about the enormity of the task I have set myself, namely to become a Member of Parliament, but here we are.
It might make sense to talk about why I have set that as a goal. Years ago, I would have considered myself a political apathist, really not caring who was in charge because everything seemed to tick along regardless. In hindsight, this was an incredibly privileged position where I didn’t have to worry about benefits being cut for austerity reasons and didn’t yet have any real dependence on services like the NHS. In short, I was pretty unthinking. Not selfish – but not really considering the needs of others purely through ignorance.
Looking back, I think this is not only commonplace, but also a design feature of our current electoral system. Under First Past The Post (FPTP), the vast majority of votes are wasted. Vote for a losing candidate and you might as well not have turned up to the polling station – that one is obvious. However, what about votes for the winning candidate? Well, any excess votes over what they need to win are also wasted. So in essence, the only votes that matter are the ones that push one candidate ahead of second place, and arguably that means that only one vote actually carries any weight under the current system.
Worse yet, this system has a knock-on effect of generating an effective two-party state. Indeed, the basis of our government is that power is wielded solely by one party (or a coalition) until the system listed here results in a swing to the other large party, at which point all the power immediate transfers over to a new set of politicians. Because of this, we generally see successive governments spending inordinate amounts of time simply unwinding what their predecessors did, and the adversarial nature of this system makes long-term compromise on key issues very difficult indeed.
It is for this reason that I firmly believe that the UK needs a form of Proportional Representation desperately. Under PR, we would have genuine representation of the electorate at Westminster, while the current system generates less representation than simply picking 650 people at random from the electoral roll. Under PR, politicians would need to get used to the idea that compromise and collaboration would need to be the norm, as majority governments would become increasingly uncommon. In short, under PR we would have an actual, functioning democracy.
This has been a fairly lengthy diversion from talking about why I decided to get involved in politics, but it hopefully shows where the idea came from. In other blog posts I will talk at length about specific subjects, but invariably it will always boil down to these core messages:
Everything else is, to me, linked to one or more of those core concepts. I am also a huge fan of a philosophical morality concept known as the “veil of ignorance” when it comes to considering policies, in that I try to assume that I could be anyone when thinking about an issue.
I believe that the current government has fundamentally breached all three of these core principles, and as such I see it as my duty to stand against them and fight for a better UK.