Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Last Past the Post

My two bits’ worth in the Mixed Member Proportional debate would have been that it MMP isn’t perfect and needs some adjusting in obvious areas. But I am gratified that there is no strong support for the suggestion of returning to First Past the Post.
Up until MMP came in, I never cast a meaningful vote in my life. I was always in electorates where there was no way that my vote was going to change anything. In rural electorates my vote would never have got my candidate past the post and in urban electorates my vote would have contributed only to the overweening sense of importance that some high-majority partliamentarians displayed.
It was on such a nominal event that I took Paul, aged ten, into the booth with me, and let him vote; he’d studied the issues at school and his vote didn’t change anything more than mine would have.
In those days it only mattered to vote if you were in a marginal electorate. Those were the voters who swept governments in and out. Sometimes a swing of a handful of percentage points in key electorates across the country made a huge change in the balance of parliament. Often we lost skilled and experienced politicians in the carnage.
In the 1970s I proposed on radio a reform which turned out to be almost exactly what we got in MMP a good few years later. I still think mine was better, but then - and now - anything would be better than going back to FFP.

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