There’s no need for a new party - we have the Lib Dems
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After talk of a possible split in the Labour Party our readers discuss the merits of a new political party.
Jane Merrick calls for a new centrist party to represent the moderate balance between social justice and recognition of the welfare state with an acceptance of a market economy. That is a pretty accurate summary of what the Liberal Democrats represent. So why is Merrick looking for new party? It already exists! The Lib Dems have been consistently anti-Brexit, they are the natural home for those who want the UK to remain a strong and influential member of the EU.
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The main issue overlooked which would kill off Jane Merrick's new party before it is even founded is that our outdated election system doesn't allow any breathing space for any new or small party to succeed.
First-past-the-post allows a single party with 36.9% of the votes (as in the 2015 general election) to get more than 50% of the seats, yet 100% of the power. Proportional representation would transform our political system by forcing parties to share power, to seek cross-party comprises and work together for the common good. Time to make votes match seats in parliament.
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René Bach, Twickenham
Michael White's column is my 'go to first' option when TNE arrives, so as a democracy campaigner as well as a dedicated Remainer, I was sad to see him say in issue #129: 'Where the 'breaking the mould' party splitters and constitutional reformers go wrong (yet again) is in thinking that a smash that leads to a new centre party, PR voting plus Lords reform, would provide a clear way out of Britain's doldrums.'
It is a mistake to align party splitters with constitutional reformers. Yes there may be some overlap but there must be many more of us in only one of those camps. Which is where I am.
The Brexit process has certainly shown up the deficits in our democratic structures: Both government and opposition insist that an 'advisory' referendum's narrow outcome is binding even when a subsequent general election refuses to provide the mandate that the prime minister declares she needs – and isn't that also the will of the people?
Then there are leaders who have no compunction about putting party interests before the country's; insist that it is legitimate to continue with a voting system that does not deliver a parliament that reflects the views of the electorate; have no plans to change the second chamber; show no interest in correcting the malign influence of dark money.
There is a huge way to go before our supposedly democratic processes demonstrate that we have indeed taken back control.
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