A cross party alliance on Electoral Reform – minus NOTA?!

Much is being made in alternative and more progressive mainstream media of the cross party electoral reform alliance that appears to be forming. Clearly, this has implications for our None of the Above (NOTA) campaign. So, in the spirit of solidarity and open debate, here’s my thoughts on the matter.

I believe this alliance to be a long overdue step in the right direction. However, the focus of the alliance appears to be firmly on getting Proportional Representation in place by 2021 – after the next election.

As things stand, by 2020 the Conservatives will most likely have rigged the game even more in their favour via boundary changes and in doing so further cemented their position. As undemocratic and dishonest as this is, it is entirely possible to do this in our current system. As such, it is likely that the current government could remain in power, even in the face of widespread, nationwide opposition after the 2020 election.

The government of the day, even one with a weak majority, still always has a virtual monopoly on the power to pass legislation. Or not pass it, as the case may be. And in the case of PR, the fact remains that, as desirable as it may be, it can still always be argued by its opponents that it is a non-essential democratic ‘optional extra’ and that the current system is ‘democratic enough’, given that our parliamentary system hinges on seat share, not vote share, regardless of the voting system used.

All the while that is the case, I fail to see how PR is achievable. I keep reading that this cross party alliance will lead to PR, even if the government of the day is vehemently opposed to it. How so? I’m happy to be proved wrong on this. If there is a way, that the incumbent government would be powerless to stop, I’d very much like to know what it is.

Either way, a formal NOTA option remains achievable before 2020, with enough understanding and support for it, as it remains essential in any true democracy to be able to formally withhold consent, and is therefore impossible to argue against without arguing against democracy itself. For this reason, with or without PR, NOTA must be there. If, as I suspect, PR remains unachievable in reality, regardless of how much support there is for it (for the reasons stated above), then NOTA would remain the logical starting point.

With that in mind, it would make lots of sense in my view if this cross party alliance began looking into the need for NOTA and considered making it a stated goal alongside their long term plan for PR. I, and I’m sure others from NOTA UK, would be more than happy to advise and facilitate in this regard.

The Green Party of England & Wales is the only party currently who has acknowledged the need for NOTA and adopted an appropriate policy towards it. I believe this cross party alliance presents an opportunity for us to build on that progress and will be contacting members of the alliance in due course to see where they stand on the issue.

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
14/02/16

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2 thoughts on “A cross party alliance on Electoral Reform – minus NOTA?!

  1. Klina Jordan February 14, 2016 at 17:51 Reply

    The PR Alliance is about… PR. You are of course more than welcome to contact whoever you want about NOTA, which as you know, I think is a good idea too 🙂 I don’t however believe that logically we need NOTA before we can get PR. Is that what happened in New Zealand? The public want PR. Our target of PR by 2021 is because the challenge of overcoming a Tory majority is a great one, although not necessarily impossible. If all the opposition parties put PR in their manifestos as an alliance, and between them get a majority in 2020, they will have a mandate to bring in PR. On a different topic, why NOTA rather than RON? The Green Party use RON.

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    • theapathymyth February 15, 2016 at 11:42 Reply

      So the plan hinges entirely on kicking out the Tories in 2020 and Labour keeping to their word on PR. Ok…

      Firstly, for the reasons stated, kicking the Tories out in 2020 looks nigh on impossible as things stand. Secondly, PR has much opposition within the Labour party so their commitment to it if they were to get in is by no means guaranteed. For these reasons, PR by 2021 seems to me to be no more achievable than it has ever been.

      By contrast, NOTA is achievable, for the reasons stated above and at length throughout this website. It should therefore be the priority, at the very least it should be on an equal footing with PR for all reformists. Reform comes in incremental stages, not all at once. It makes no sense to ignore an achievable reform that could open the door to further reforms in favour of a considerably less achievable one.

      Outside the membership of political organisations, RON is needlessly jargonistic and always needs explaining to the layman. Whereas NOTA is self-explanatory, straightforward and unambiguous. We were not consulted on the formation of the green party policy, which is NOTA in practice, had we been we would have pushed for more specific wording. This is something we intend to address when party policy next comes up for debate.

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