Many believe Boris Johnson is modelling his style on Conservative icon Winston Churchill. But one campaign group – having been excluded from the 2019 Tory conference – has used Churchill’s words to make an important point about Johnson and his party.
Make Votes Matter (MVM) campaigns for a system of Proportional Representation in UK general elections. This means “any voting system in which the share of seats a party wins matches the share of votes it receives”. And in a cutting critique, the group presented a theory about why the Conservatives didn’t want it at their conference this year:
In 1931, Winston Churchill said Proportional Representation is "incomparably the fairest, most scientific and… best in the public interest".
— Make Votes Matter #MVM (@MakeVotesMatter) September 29, 2019
Churchill, of course, is no progressive hero. But on this occasion, he was right.
The current voting system is unfair. That’s probably why Tories like it so much.
MVM co-founder Klina Jordan previously spoke to The Canary about Britain’s desperate need for Proportional Representation. She said there’s significant evidence that the system is fairer for voters (and parties) and “results in better social, environmental, and economic outcomes”. Countries with such a voting system, meanwhile, tend to be more equal societies with better representation of minority communities. And it even results in less war.
A recent report co-authored by MVM also stressed that the UK’s current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system has “a pronounced conservative bias”. And the report’s author explained that it “consistently skews politics to the right and drives up economic and social inequality”. In “countries with more proportional systems”, meanwhile, the report insisted that there are more “egalitarian, compassionate” outcomes.
It’s all about preserving power
Johnson’s government is currently taking some Labour policies and watering them down, trying to convince voters that it’s more progressive than it is. But as shadow chancellor John McDonnell has pointed out:
the Tories have checked what are the top three or four issues in the polls, and they’ve cynically judged how little money they have to throw around to try and neutralise those issues and the concerns of people.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed on Twitter:
Tory strategy is genius. Close 100 things & trust media not to report. Then open 10 things & rely on the media to provide wall to wall coverage. You’ve made 90% cuts but voters think you’ve announced a 10% increase in investment. Hospitals Sure Start, Youth Centres, Fire Stations
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) October 1, 2019
Pretty much everything you need to know about the Tories, right here. https://t.co/qwOsdFG9cR
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) October 1, 2019
Tory conference today promising to spend billions and billions on a range of public services that they spent years&years cutting with their shocking failed austerity agenda. Most of the promises on spending are not costed and it will take 5 years to implement. A Tory mirage 👎
— Angela Rayner 🌈 (@AngelaRayner) September 30, 2019
Conservative Party Conference 2019 summary:
“You know how we’ve spent this last decade totally fucking you over?
Well we’re gonna stop that now.
Yeah, we know we said that the past two elections, but we mean it this time.
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) September 30, 2019
In reality, Johnson is about as Thatcherite as it gets. Not only has he been a faithful supporter of the most callous Tory-led governments in living memory, but he’s now leading a government which is even further to the right. He’s also stirring the far right into action with aggressive warlike terminology; and he’s failing to deal with his party’s Islamophobia crisis. This all comes at a time when “the number of right-wing extremists in custody under terror laws last year increased to the highest level on record”.
So ignore Johnson’s meagre promises. Because his government is toxic. And it’s not going to bring any meaningful progress to Britain. His party’s apparent opposition to making Britain’s voting system fairer, meanwhile, is yet another example of just how little interest it has in truly improving people’s lives.
Featured image via YouTube – The Independent
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