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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Electoral reform revisited

Personally, I found the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments on the UK coalition today to be quite predictable. What was puzzling though was his claim that the government is forcing through "radical policies for which no one voted".

That is the problem with coalition government of course, things are not clear-cut when it comes to assessing their mandate, though it has to be said that the combined vote of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats exceeds 50% of those voting.

In a representative democracy based on an unfair electoral system it is often difficult to identify how any government has secured a mandate for a particular policy. Labour for example, introduced tuition fees and top-up fees despite explicitly ruling them out in their manifesto and they were a single party government with a Parliamentary majority.

The fact is that governments have to react to events and often their actions have not been predicted in their manifestos simply because they were unaware as to how forces outside their control would develop after they took power.

More fundamentally, where was Rowan Williams during Tony Blair's government? In 2005 Labour won 35.2% of the vote, amounting to just 21% of the 44 million people eligible to vote, and yet Tony Blair commanded 55% of the seats in the House of Commons. If there was ever a case of a government forcing through changes that people did not vote for then that was it.

I am afraid it is a case of 'move along, there is nothing to see here'. The Archbishop of Canterbury would be better advised to restrict his comments to the policies themselves rather than get embroiled in a debate on mandates. It really is not as straightforward as he implies.
Rowan Williams is making a category error - voting is about electing people, not policies. Of course, those people usually make promises on particular policies and not all of those promises will be achieved or achievable, and that applies to all parties.
Quite Interestingly: the Guardian's headline was Rowan Williams: No one voted for coalition policies.

Strangely enough, no-one voted for Rowan Williams to take Ermin.
Imho Rowan Williams is a 'category error' to whatever extent his own actions undermined his own church. Chris Wood
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