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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why should we expect fairness from an unfair system?

There has been a lot of publicity today of claims by a race equality campaigner that the lack of black and Asian MPs in Wales is a "huge problem" which political parties need to take seriously.

The BBC report that none of the 10 ethnic minority candidates standing in Wales for one of the four parties with MPs at Westminster is in a seat where their party came first or second in 2010 and that no black or Asian MP has ever been elected in Wales:

The candidates from a BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) background include five Lib Dems, three Conservatives, two Plaid Cymru and none from Labour. UKIP refused to provide details.

The ratio of BAME candidates - one in 16 - is slightly better than the one in 20 of the Welsh population of BAME heritage recorded by the 2011 Census

But Mr Singh said BAME candidates should be given more winnable seats.

"Wales is a multicultural, multiracial country and we need inclusiveness," he said.

This is of course hugely concerning and there is much more that we can do including training and support. I am not though in favour of quotas of any kind as people need to be selected for seats on their own merits.

The question though is why should we be surprised? Putting aside the training and support issue, we are operating within a basically unfair system in which many MPs are elected with less than 50% of those voting and outcomes do not reflect the way people vote.

A proportional system can favour independents and minorities as well as ensuring that we get the Parliament we wanted at the ballot box. After all, why would anybody expect an unfair system to produce a fair outcome?
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