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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 08:09 PM
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Guardian UK: Dying days of the big parties
Dying days of the big parties
The voting system masks a fragmenting club of three. Calls for reform will go on, whoever wins

Vernon Bogdanor, Tuesday 22 September 2009

Parliamentary government, Disraeli insisted, depends upon party. How is it to work when the party system fragments? That is the challenge facing the three party leaders as the conference season continues. In the last general election, in 2005, just over three in five of us 62% actually voted. Of those who did bother to vote, one in 10 voted for parties other than the big three Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat by far the largest vote for "other parties" since 1945. That was before the expenses scandal. In the first post-expenses electoral test the European elections the three main parties gained just 60% of the vote. The combined vote for Ukip, the Greens and the BNP was just 0.5% less than that of the winning Conservatives, who gained only 28% of the vote.

The decline in electoral support for the major parties has become one of the central features of British politics. It has been accompanied by a collapse in party membership. The Conservatives, despite coming first in the local elections and the European elections and their strong position in the polls, have lost nearly a quarter of their members since December 2005. Just 145,000 now belong to the party as compared with one and a half million in 1975, when Margaret Thatcher became leader.

Labour is faring no better. In 1996, a year before its landslide general election victory, it had 400,000 members. Now there are just 150,000. Fifty years ago, one in 11 of us belonged to a party. Now, it is just one in 88. This decline in party membership is probably greatest among young people, and that is also the group least likely to vote. Generational change is fuelling scepticism towards the orthodoxies of tribal politics. The major parties, as mass organisations, are dying on their feet.

The expenses scandal is likely to increase support for minor parties and independents. Previous scandals Profumo in the 1960s, sleaze in the 1990s damaged only the governing party. This one casts doubt on the integrity of the whole political class. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at:

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T_i_B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 02:01 AM
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1. It's not the voting system that's the problem over here
Edited on Thu Sep-24-09 02:02 AM by T_i_B
The problem lies with venal, careerist politicians who seem more interested with looking out for themselves then their constituents.

Changing from first past the post to PR will not change that as it will not increase the checks and balances MP's are subject to. It will merely cause them to change electoral tactics slightly.

P.S I was also going to point out that the ghastly Bob Spink is UKIP but I checked Wikipedia and found the following

He resigned the Conservative whip in March 2008, and in April 2008 he defected to the United Kingdom Independence Party, becoming that party's first and only MP. In November 2008 he was redesignated as an Independent, on the grounds that UKIP had no 'whip'<1> and has since denied joining UKIP.
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 10:11 AM
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2. it's difficult to be all things to all people...
and the general voter more often than not looks for simple answers to complext political issues...that is one reason i think why hardline, single-issue, always-stay-on-message groups (i.e., anti-tax, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, etc) are gaining popularity...
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T_i_B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 02:13 AM
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3. Well politicians keep trying to be all things to all people
And the end result usually ends up being that they end up being nothing to nobody.

The Lib Dem conference this week was a classic example of this. It's time that UK politicians moved on from 1997. Everyone else has.
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