Conservatives should embrace electoral reform

On the 23rd June 2016, the British electorate voted to leave the European Union. Contrary to what some opponents say, this was not a freak accident or a moment of mass hysteria; it was a patriotic and anti-establishment distress signal sent from the silent majority to the ruling class.

After all, every recent poll and survey shows ordinary Britons to be decisively more right-wing than their elected representatives. New grammar schools, controls on immigration, a ban on the burka and Amber Rudd’s plans to “name and shame” businesses that employ ‘too many’ migrants are all supported by the citizenry. What’s more, these findings are bolstered by an in-depth study orchestrated by Opinium, which assigns a bulk of the populace into two conservative “tribes”.

However, our officialdom remains cumbersome, unaccountable, pro-EU and PC. Our voting system is non-proportional; candidates are self-selecting; too much power is centralised in Whitehall and, through these means, the status-quo is immortalised.

It is time to dismantle our antiquated framework and replace it with a grassroots democracy, whereby decision-making is delegated to regions and – where practical – communities and neighbourhoods. For the conservative voice to get a fair hearing, we need plebiscites, open primaries, local assemblies and other Swiss-style reforms that leapfrog our national parliament.

Let’s face it: if we had relied on our national parliament then Brexit would never have happened. Fewer than a quarter of our MP’s campaigned for an EU withdrawal, which although shameful and embarrassing, isn’t all that surprising. Referendums – unaffected by crooks and lobbyists – are a necessity if the true will of the people is to be ratified.

In addition, candidates ought to be selected by their constituents, not by party officials. With open primaries, interlopers will be flushed out during the hustings, and non-Tories that don’t hold any conservative or libertarian values won’t end up standing for the Conservative Party (perish the thought).

Throw proportional representation, recall powers and ballot initiatives into the bargain and you will have a truly fair and reflective government, although oddly enough this does pose its problems. We’ll need a British Bill of Rights to thwart the ‘tyranny of the majority’, and devolution will restrict the reach of unwanted collectivism. Many of us find the Home Secretary’s plans both grubby and intrusive, and whilst the cultural norm is to show our faces in public, enforcing it would be profoundly illiberal. Nonetheless, some disagree, and at least the imposition would be localised.

Other common gripes with electoral reform really do not stand to reason. Yes, wholesale change isn’t particularly ‘conservative’, but neither is our incumbency. As it stands, Phillip Hammond (a Remainer) is going to subject the nation to Keynesian economics; Theresa May (another Remainer) will find her selective education hopes opposed by Tory backbenchers (also Remainers, probably); the leader of the Opposition is a Remainer who makes “friends” with terrorists; and yet more Remainers in the Commons are uniting to block the Brexit vote. Mark my words: we will not burst the Westminster bubble without a constitutional revolution; a revolution that we started with Brexit, and one that we now must finish.


The Great British Taxpayer is a political blogger 

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty