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Newsnight

Would a hung parliament be good for Britain?

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Sep 06, 12:02 PM

short_203.jpgFormer Cabinet minister Clare Short has said she will step down as a Labour candidate at the next General Election.

Writing in Thursday’s Independent, she revealed that she had reached a stage where she was “profoundly ashamed of the Government” and that she believed the Labour Party had lost its way.

She concluded that “the key to the change we need is a hung parliament which will bring in electoral reform”, a recommendation that has put her in the firing line of the Chief Whip.

So, would a hung parliament be a good thing for democracy? Would it add a “plurality of voices and power centres in the Commons” and thus change British politics profoundly as Clare Short suggests? Is it even possible to campaign for a hung parliament?

Tell us what you think...

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:54 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Owen Blacker wrote:

I completely agree with Clare Short. I'm not sure whether New Labour has misled us or whether we misunderstood what they were about but, as a left-winger who remembers thinking that things really could only get better, I'm profoundly disappointed with and disillusioned by the government we've had since 1997.

I think a move towards the Single Transferable Vote would make a big difference to the dynamics of politics in the UK and, whilst I can understand fears that it could lead to reenacting the mid-1990s, where John Major was in office but the Ulster Unionists were apparently in power, I don't think that situation is quite so likely to recur, particularly if the two-party system finally dies its long-overdue death.

  • 2.
  • At 12:54 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jan Tomasson wrote:

I agree, i think there should be a hung parliament, things will only improve. Whilst at it hang all the politicians too, which, I'm sure, will do wonders for the country!

  • 3.
  • At 12:54 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Laurence Hodge wrote:

1) No;
2) No and hence no;
3) No.

  • 4.
  • At 12:55 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Raydon BERRY wrote:

I think that a hung parliament would be a very good thing for the UK, but one would not be enough - the 2 main parties would each try to sit it out until they got a majority. So, my answer is actually, NO, a single hung parliament might help a little, but we would need three or four before the parties could be persuaded to make the necessary electoral reforms.

  • 5.
  • At 12:55 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • tonyms wrote:

unfortunately clare short thinks she knows what we all want, a typical patronising politician. if she is so ashamed of the government she should actively work to change their policies, and persuade all of us that what she thinks is correct. the reality is that most of us profoundly disagree with clare short's views.

  • 6.
  • At 12:58 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Alex Marshall wrote:

We were promised electoral reform and then Labour / Blair reneged on it. They'd do so again, promise electoral reform that is, if they thought it would get votes and then renege once more.

  • 7.
  • At 12:59 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Debbie wrote:

We have now reached the point where it is neither healthy nor productive for a single party to lead this country. The decreasing number of voters and increasing sense of disillusionment reflects the fact that to the average person in this country, the government exists, in the main, to exercise its own agenda with no reference to the needs or wants of the common man.

The fact that this agenda bears little resemblance to that on which voters were asked to vote intensifies the feeling of powerlessness in the British Public.

A hung parliament, as the only shared power option, is vital if the connection between Government and Governed is to be restored and if the new generation of voters are to value and use their demoratic right.

A hung parliament would negate the increasing power of personality and reduce the perception that politicians have that they have some right to inherit the leadership of this country.

  • 8.
  • At 01:00 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Flower wrote:

It is a wonderful image, but I think we should try to move on from brutal retribution and stick with the ballot box for now.

  • 9.
  • At 01:01 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ross Connell wrote:

Only if Gordon Brown leads the Labour queue to the gibbet.

  • 10.
  • At 01:02 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

Well done Claire Short, a hung parliament is exactly what we need to get this country on an even keel, what a pity she is retiring
Doreen Richards

I think there is no doubt that the present system puts too much power in the hands of the government.

A hung parliament can put too much power in the hands of the party holding the balance however.

The question is whether there is a taste among the public for the more balanced coalition governments that a switch in voting system would bring?

  • 12.
  • At 01:02 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jim Campbell wrote:

If only we could take the PARTY politics out of politics and go for a coalition government, governing for the benefit of the country and not the party. We did it in time of war and we are continually being advised that we are at war (with terrorism)so why not now? No party,gender or religion have the monopoly on most suitable candidates so why not remove the blinkers and elect the very best? Am I being naieve or is honesty unacceptable in our PC society? Jim.

  • 13.
  • At 01:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ruth worrall wrote:

Dear Newsnight,
Considering Clare Short betrayed her principals when the chips were down, I think her views are given far too much prominence in the media.
Clare Short is clearly driven by revenge and hatred of Tony Blair for exposing her vulnerability when it came to choosing between principals and power – power which, I might add, would have been denied her and the rest of the Labour party for ever if people like Clare Short were leading the party.
Let us hear no more of Clare short.

  • 14.
  • At 01:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tim Bale wrote:

A hung parliament - and the possibility of one - could be good if it obliges the Labour and Conservative Parties to at least open their minds to the possibility of PR.

This may happen sooner rather than later in Labour's case if it continues to perform poorly in the polls. The Conservatives, however, probably won't entertain the idea - at least publicly - until some kind of reform is the price they have to pay for going into government, either as a minority of with the Lib Dems.

Now, I'm not saying that we should have PR, just that it would be good to have a more balanced debate about the pros and cons. At the moment, we have, on the one hand, a coalition of the needy (the Lib Dems and other smaller parties) and the nerdy against diehard opponents who trot out the same old 'continental' examples that supposedly show why it would be utter madness to change.

Whether the wheeling or dealing that would go on in a hung parliament would actually produce that balanced debate, given what would be at stake in such a high-pressure scenario is another matter!

The thing to remember, of course, that there is PR and there is PR. For what it's worth, the consensus among my fellow political scientists - judging from recent research - is that PR is a good thing and MMP (a la NZ and Germany) is probably the best version.

The other thing to remember is that voters vote differently under different systems so it's very difficult to predict how the present lineup of parties would do under PR, except to say they would almost certainly be joined by the Greens and UKIP and/or the BNP.

  • 15.
  • At 01:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jeremy Wilson wrote:

Surely this is what the people are crying out for, and it may be the possibility of this situation that might bring back the disillusioned who don't feel they have a voice. How can it be right that a party that achieves only 40%(?)of the votes can have overall control over policies.

Jeremy Wilson

  • 16.
  • At 01:04 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • jane gould wrote:

If we really want to open a meaningful debate on this subject, I think it is high time that this country seriously considered adopting an electoral model along the lines of the US. Like it or not. The electorate votes increasingly for a Prime Minister as opposed to a Political party. Call me mean-spirited, but I believe that two terms of Prime Ministerial Office is enough for anyone, if they are to avoid the humiliating exhibition that we are witnessing at present. So painfully and shamefully reminiscent of 1990 debacle which unseated Margaret Thatcher. How much better for the image of politics and mor importantly, the business of Government, if a Prime Minister were constitutionally forced to step aside after two terms. How much better for the Parties, as new blood (and possibly even the odd brain cell) was introduced.
There are no easy answers; but it would be good to have the debate.

  • 17.
  • At 01:05 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John Sutherland wrote:

I admire the stand Clare Short has always made. I'm not enthusiastic about a hung parliment. Dollars to Donuts it would consist of New Labour & the Lib/Dems. The Lib/Dems are so desperate to get into some form of power, already they have been guilty of cosying up to New Labour to keep the Tories out at any cost. I certainly doubt if I could support Ming & Co, the end result will be more of the same.
I still very much doubt if G.Brown will eventually be coronated. I certainly can not see my way of supporting him. Labour promised to end all the means testing. Under Brown it has got worse. Brown is a control freak. Time will certainly show if he indeed is this wonderful & prudent chancellor they all boast about. God help us if he does become PM.

  • 18.
  • At 01:06 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Turner wrote:

Whilst hung parliaments can result in weakness and an inability to progress the less palateable elements of any legislative programme, British politics is now so sterile and power so certralised that something has got to change if our democracy is not to be even more severely compromised. Governments of whichever colour must be held to account and whilst Ms Short's proposal has significant drawbacks, it is good to hear that someone as respected as she is offering an alternative.

  • 19.
  • At 01:07 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Mario wrote:

I really thinks she's lost the plot and the sooner SHE leaves and not Tony Blair, the better. I find her forever-glum expression and constant whining a complete turnoff.

  • 20.
  • At 01:07 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tim Kirk wrote:

Yes.

Anything that forces a government to have to talk things through, to be made to examine possibly flaws in legislation, rather than just say 'we have a majority so we can do what we want' ahs to be a good thing. Parliament is after all supposed to somewhere where our representives parley - not where they simply line up in party factions and do what their leaders say.

Defending plans against real opposition (ie - one that can stop the plans) and having to cause some other people to support your ideas is surely a way of seeing that a more pragmatic and less dogmatic course of action is taken. Doing things because you want them to work rather than because you can justify how they will work is not a good idea, and there is far to much dogmatic and soundbite legislation these days.

I think that rather than campaign for a hung parliament there is a possibly for a large number of independent candidates to stand under a 'none of the above' banner. They would have one thing they would be united in - electoral reform - and would otherwise stand for their own beliefs and to represent their own constituents. No central office, no party whip.

In addition, with the internet and mass communication these days it would be possible for every MP to make a public statement after each vote explaining why they voted the way they did - that way the people would have some idea whether they were really being represented.

None of this would be perfect, but it would most likely greatly reduce the chance of anyone in government pushing something through without at least being able to justify to a lot of people whose continued position as MPs would rely on sufficient of their constituents understanding why they have voted the way they have on whatever issues the constituents consider most important. It would also likely reduce the chance of extremist policies in any direction coming into being.

  • 21.
  • At 01:09 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Thompson wrote:

I wished Claire had stepped down at the time Robin Cook did - that would have put greater pressure on Blair, and great respect from the public. Instead holding on - she's looked weakened.

Three party politics is a good way forward, better still, proportional representation. Claire's observation of media initiated policy development is spot on. It's a shame a Gov with such a majority has never had the courage to revolutionise a 21st Centuary Britain.

  • 22.
  • At 01:09 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tom Ratcliff wrote:

Probably not a bad idea, just so long as Claire Short shuts up and leaves us all alone. Or maybe she could move to Iraq.

  • 23.
  • At 01:09 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John wrote:

Amazing that it should take so long to come to this conclusion. Not only would it benefit ALL the parties, big or small, it would fulfil that manifesto pledge about electoral reform.
Remember the Jenkins Commission anyone? Still sitting there.
Why doesn't Clare Short join the Lib Dems? She's against the war, as they have been for years, and she is pro-electoral reform, which they alone have kept semi-alive as a political issue.
Time to put that first past the post nonsense in the bin as with so many constitutional anachronisms.
People may huff and puff, but plenty of countries, from Scotland to most of Europe, seem to be capable of running their affairs while still serving the MAJORITY of the voting population.

  • 24.
  • At 01:10 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • chris wrote:

I admire the women big time !

  • 25.
  • At 01:11 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David wrote:

I feel so profoundly sad that so many of the 'real' Labour people have now died or been forced by their conscience to resign.
Oh, the hopes well all had in 1997. It is so depressing.
So yes, let's try a hung parliament, it cannot be any worse than what we have at the moment.

  • 26.
  • At 01:12 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

It is difficult to imagine any good reason for promoting the notion of a 'hung parliament'.
Hung parliaments produce:
* lowest common denominator policies
* either (small c) conservative coalitions which are unable to provide either leadership or respond to the changing world, or coalitions which are always in hock to the extremes on the spectrum (eg Israel, Serbia).

If she hasn't looked around the world to find out why this is such a bad idea, she may just wish to look at comparative UK local authority performance, where she will discover that NOC (hung) councils are disproportionately represented in the least lowest-performing groups, tend to have the least public satisfaction.

  • 27.
  • At 01:13 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jon Nott wrote:

It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to campaign for a hung parliament - there are simply too many variables. But by launching her campaign, Clare Short has put a fair voting system back on the agenda.

Short is absolutely right in her analysis that parliament is weakened by the fact that it is so unrepresentative of the population. A fair voting system and an elected upper house would strengthen parliament and facilitate holding the government to account.

A representative commons would most likely result in a progressive centre-left government - far more in Labour's long-term interests than a spell in opposition. The only question is whether MPs can stop thinking short-term and put the interests of the country ahead of their personal desires to keep their safe seats.

  • 28.
  • At 01:13 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • barstep wrote:

A hung parliament brought about to satisfy Claire Short's desire to damage Tonay Blair won't achieve anything.
In general, hung parliaments hang around for only a short time until one of the main parties can force an election to gain an overall majority. It's unlikely to bring about reform of any kind.
If we want electoral reform then one of the main parties will have to promise to bring it about - preferably one that hasn't been tainted by the tantrums of a resigning MP.

  • 29.
  • At 01:13 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Symes wrote:

Claire Short thinks a 3rd party grouping involving the Greens might help to address the current malaise with how we are governed. I would like to see a Grey / Green alliance based on shared principles of Sustainability - not just a sustainable environment but a sustainable old age. The demographics of an ageing (Baby Boomer) population faced with a "Grey Pound" inflation of late 1970's levels living on fixed incomes and for example looking around for NHS dentists (to avoid higher than expected healthcare costs) might make the timing right. After all it was about 100 years ago that an up and coming Labour Party took advantage of the ruling party splits - also at a time when Peerages were claimed to be sold to fund political parties - to establish themselves as a new force for change.

  • 30.
  • At 01:14 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Bob Milton wrote:

Does she think it is a sinking ship?

  • 31.
  • At 01:14 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Frank Helbo wrote:

It would be at god thing with an electoreal reform. Then Great Britain kan have an electorial system like the rest off Europe. It is not fair, that at party getting 35-40 procent of the votes can run a governement in a country - without the support of the electorial.

  • 32.
  • At 01:15 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • JohnB wrote:

Tonyms accuses Clare Short of being patronising, and then proceeds to say 'most of us profoundly disagree with clare short's views', when he can have no idea what most of us think.
This makes him sound like just a politician.

  • 33.
  • At 01:16 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Kevin Nolan wrote:

I take it Clare Short favours a hung Parliament because it could lead to the introduction of PR and therefore a greater possibility of coalition Govts in Britain. [Incidentally, that means she and the new head of UKIP are in agreement on one thing at least - PR].

To my eyes the results of British elections seem very strange; whopping great seat majorities on the basis of a relatively small majority of the popular vote. Ireland and many other European States have had PR for decades and seem to be doing OK with it. It’s not clear to me why it wouldn’t also be successful for the UK. I don’t think the argument that a clear-cut decision is always best holds water –it might be clear-cut and disastrous! Neither do I accept that the UK electorate can grapple only with voting between three parties’ manifestos and wouldn’t put up with the prospect of agreed programmes for Govt being hammered out after elections. Voters should have the greatest range of options open to them that have some realistic prospect of being implemented. Their collective wisdom in relation to those options has a better chance of being acted upon under PR than under 'first past the post'.

  • 34.
  • At 01:16 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Simon J George wrote:

First Past The Post is best;

Reasons

1) Minoity parties are discouraged

So yes the Greens are under represented, but so is the BNP, (and one could imagine extreme islamist groups gaining representation on a PR basis)

2) Majority parties are required to cater for the widest possible range of the electorate.

"the battle for the centre ground" is actually about Labour/Tories/Libs looking for a consensus which is has been a a key factor in the UK's long term political stability for the last 300 years.

Under PR and therefore a hung parliament, it is possible that minority parties may well be represented in parliament but NEVER have power, which discourages any search of consensus or compromise.

  • 35.
  • At 01:16 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ben Duncan wrote:

Of course a hung parliament would be good for Britain as it would limit the power of Government to ignore public opinion beween elections - as Blair has repeatedly, on foundation hospitals, going to war in Iraq and staying silent in the face of the recent slaughter of civilians in Lebanon and Israel.

If Clare Short wants to help deliver one she should get re-elected as a Labour MP and then defect to a party with fewer MPs when she gets to Westminster.

  • 36.
  • At 01:17 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Michael Jarvis wrote:

Any debate which seeks to resolve the question of how a parliament may be more representative of the wishes of the poeple at large is to be welcomed. There are graphic illustrations as to how the 'peoples' wishes are ignored (invasion of Iraq, Countryside Alliance et al).

What is impossible, though, is to campaign for a hung parliament. There is no way, even if one's campaign atrracted sympathy, for the average voter to know that any particular voting stance would be likely to promote such an eventuality.

Those who are sympathetic should campaign vigorously for proportional representation, and a commitment that any manifesto pledge regarding it would be honoured.

  • 37.
  • At 01:18 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Rach wrote:

Not only has the labour party lost it's way, so has the rest of politics. I agree totally a hung parliament is exactly what we need to remind us all what democracy is supposed to be all about.
As to tonyms comment: You have got to be kidding! AFAICS Clare Short has proved herself the only one with the guts to speak out for democracy amid all the career politicians who are too concerned about their jobs to really speak for their constituents. I'm not one of her constituents, but if I was I'd be seriously concerned about losing her voice in parliament.

  • 38.
  • At 01:18 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Timothy wrote:

If Claire short is so disgusted with her party's policy why wait until the next general election to resign. Maybe the delays because she knows that she wont be re-elected next time?

  • 39.
  • At 01:19 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Nick Lawton wrote:

I am one of the many who do not vote in this country. Its partially because where I grew up in Liverpool (Walton - Eric Heffer's old seat) Labour always won the seat - but lost the general election.

My desire for the a change of government was never recognised because the fate of British governments is decided by a selective few of the population, in select parts of cities or towns. No doubt people with a certain amount of money and are likely homeowners.

So yeah, I'm a proportional represention fan. I would bang on about it, if the topic ever came up in parties, for hours - but thats cos I like the sound of my own voice.

But even if we did have PR, we would still have an elected dictatorship. Sure they pay attention to public opinion - although that attention wavers the longer it is to the next election. And yeah Governments have to make 'tough' choices. But its amazing how these tough choices never get debated from Parliament and the sheep who work there, who are whipped into voting the correct way.

But then I suppose I should have read the manifesto..... Jez can you imagine any other boring way of spending your afternoon??

So Hung parliament? I think a parliament which is an accurate representation of the country first, is more important. But decision making for everyone is always going to be bollocks in this country, until one of those sheep actually turns out to be selfless.

You know, Dr Who would bring down Tony Blair's Govt in 3 hrs if he was real :(

  • 40.
  • At 01:19 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • J Cassidy wrote:

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with Claire Short. This government has demonstrated how a majority rule party system simply isn't working.

But what would a 'working' democracy be?

I suggest that it is one in which every adult individual has a voice that can be represented either personally or by another.

The concerns of the individual are accessed and discussed by those directly involved using forums for the very local to national and international parliament for issues that effect the wider community.

At the moment most decisions that are taken allow certain individuals to maintain power and influence. They beleive that they are more capable and than the general populace. So they build into the 'benificial' rulings mechanisms for them to make the next decision.

It may be more complex, and it could take a while to realise, but a better society more capable of really interacting could then develop.

A hung parliament in our system would produce a government for which no one voter had voted -- a formal or informal coalition between either Labour or the Tories, whichever bids the higher for the favour of the LibDems, with whichever of the big two had won more seats starting at an advantage. Either way the LibDems would be the junior partners in the government or else would have the whip hand over the party in power, able to throw it out at any moment and replace it by the other if the party in office behaved in a way not to the LibDems' liking. Ming Campbell as LibDem leader is already (I suspect) re-positioning his party in such a way as to enable it to team up with either Labour or the Tories, whichever of them offers proportional representation in exchange for the keys to No. 10. Sir Ming would, I'm sure, feel happy as Foreign Secretary in either a Cameron government, perhaps the likeliest outcome of a hung parliament, or in a Labour government under [?] Gordon Brown.

Luckily there's no way to "campaign for a hung parliament" as Clare Short is planning to do. She must be off her trolley, which is a pity after her belated but principled resignation over Iraq. She should hang on in the hope of returning to the Cabinet in a Brown government. Any post-Blair Labour government needs someone like her with guts.

  • 42.
  • At 01:21 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • L Allsop wrote:

If I believed that a hung parliament would mean a coming together of the best thinking and best policies from each party and that the different groups would refrain from spoiling tactics and petty in-fighting then I would support it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately I suspect I will be supporting 'none of the above' for a long time yet before the whole country is disengaged from party politics and finally some bright new thing sees the gap in the market!

  • 43.
  • At 01:23 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • sean kendrew wrote:

I wholeheartedly agree with a hung parliament. I'd hang the lot of 'em.

  • 44.
  • At 01:24 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Alun Davies wrote:

Clare Short has the benefit of a big salary and a ministerial pension.

Unfortunatly she also pretty stupid. As any 5th former will tell her - the UK is a democracy where 659 individual constituencies elect MPs. No self-appointed Machiavelli can impose a pre-determined result on those constituencies and our parliament.

Perhaps she should lead by example, resign her seat and fight a by-election.

  • 45.
  • At 01:24 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Bernard wrote:

In theory yes, though in principal I am against capital punishment!

  • 46.
  • At 01:24 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tony Munro wrote:

Isn't this just Clare being Clare?

  • 47.
  • At 01:26 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Michael Shields wrote:

Hung parliament = weak government. Small parties have too much influence

  • 48.
  • At 01:27 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jamie Taylor wrote:

This is Rubbish and nonsense. This country has done very well for centuries using our current system of 'elected dictatorship' and it doesn't need the ministrations of failed politicians to remedy it. Clare Short is just peeved that her and her political mates in the Labour party didn't manage to get their own way; they've managed to sulk, scheme, snipe and sabotage the work of the party and its leadership for years since their agenda was put on the back burner and they've all mostly been sacked from government for ineptitude and have been albeit some infamy been thoroughly ignored for it by their own government and the people of Britain. Now that their game is up with the probable election of their spiritual leader Gordon Brown and the realisation that there is little possibility of the return of the old red-flag agenda she wants to turn the clock back to what she regards as the halcyon days of Labour - in opposition but true to traditional ideals. Are we really to take seriously the idea that she wants to stop the world and re-engineer the whole system of government so that it would fall into line with the ethos and ethics of herself and her traitorous friends?! Fortunately it seems for both the country and the party the political agenda of both her and her fellows has been thoroughly kicked into touch. Long may it stay there and they all continue their descent into that political oblivion reserved for wannabees, traitors and political luddites.

  • 49.
  • At 01:28 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Jones wrote:

Unfortunatley I fear that this debate has been started by Clare Short based on a severe case of "Sour Grapes". Had her political career not been hit to hard by speaking out against her own government I am sure she would have a very different position on the subject.

The best way to establish change is to try to influence your own party policies to align them with core values, beliefs and the needs of the nation.

  • 50.
  • At 01:29 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Dave-o wrote:

What we need is proportional representation. Surely, it is the only fair way for any government’s members to win an election and take up the running of the country.

Poetically, there’s a problem: the reds and blues have too much to lose.

  • 51.
  • At 01:31 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Clifton wrote:

Right or wrong something needs to be done. People are so misrable in this country because they are just not listened to. A normal person cannot seem to get even close to driving a debate and getting a change. How many people in the UK want a proper chance to voice their opinion on the EU?

  • 52.
  • At 01:32 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Knight wrote:

As others have indicated a 'hung' Parliament might seem an attractive alternative to an over-powerful Government and/or an over-weak opposition. However, in reality, and in the context of a broader historical view, this has never been a sustainable position. For better or worse - usually for better - the British two party system (which is in reality what it is designed to be) has worked and does work well, allowing considered policies to be enacted. Whether or not we "like" such decisions is of course another matter, but which the five year mandate controls.

  • 53.
  • At 01:32 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • nick wrote:

I think a hung parliment is an excellent idea. why not send all of them to the tower of London?
In reality, all we need is either a change in labours leadership, or alternatively, a new party in power. Clare Short as much as I like her as a human being, seems to ahve an agenda that is all her own, i don't think she is being enitrely rational about this.

Immediately after Clare resigns, the rest of them should as well, and then we might get a Parliament we need, rather than none we deserve!

  • 55.
  • At 01:34 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Charles Jackson wrote:

We have experienced two hung parliaments. The first in the 74s with the Lib/Lab Pact. This was a mess and a disgrace to decent minded people. The second was when the Ulster Unionists propped up John Major.That could hardly be rated a success.
Perhaps it would be a better idea to hang the politicians

  • 56.
  • At 01:35 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Edward Thomas wrote:

Old Labour (and particularly people like Claire Short) would never have had a prayer of persuading Mittel Engeland to vote for them without Tory Blair being in place to reassure the lumpen petit-bourgeoisie that ANYTHING would be better than the continuation of John Major and the "Stupid Party" as the party of government.

Now the Labour recidivists have chosen to call themselves "Real" Labour.

If the Tories were not living up to their reputation of being utterly useless and David Cameron not more Lib-Dem than the Lib-Dems, New Labour would be a shoo-in. In the meantime the New Labourites should win again under heir presumptive Gordon Brown -judging by his steadfast position openly stated today on Sky News of wholly supporting the Blair project.

  • 57.
  • At 01:36 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Mark Unsworth wrote:

Clare Short is right although I have in the past rather been suspicious of her motives. Something does have to be done to remove the dead hand of history on the democratic process in this country. We rely too much on politicians to do the 'right thing' and to keep their word without any checks on their powers. Blair has given ample proof that we do have an elected dictatorship. The prime minister can indeed, because of the crown prerogative, quite literally do as he pleases. With a compliant and spinless parliament there is nothing to stop him. A hung parliament might force some reform. It might be a beginning.

  • 58.
  • At 01:37 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Gerard Flannery wrote:

I don't think a hung Parliament is the answer.Things like that are neither one thing or the other.As for
what was once Labour i will be glad
to see them gone.I live in the North
East and WAS a lifelong Labour suppor
~ter,after Blairs lies and wars created purely for greed,i no longer
feel inclined as i once did.[in fact
i haven't voted since 1997]Cameron
made a brilliant speech the other day
and i think from now on i will vote
with my head instead of my heart.Blair has killed Labour,Brown
will not take over for long,if at all.

  • 59.
  • At 01:37 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Holman wrote:

I agree with Clare Short that electoral reform is needed, but do not believe that there is any meaningful way in which one can campaign for a hung parliament.

As others have pointed out, Labour have more than once promised electoral reform and reneged. In this respect, the Tories would do just the same.

The answer for Clare should be to cross the floor and join the LibDems, the only national party who have been campaigning for PR for decades and who have proved in Scotland that coalition government can be made to work.

  • 60.
  • At 01:38 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tom Burley wrote:

I think Claire is a very talented person - strong and independently minded, and she has achieved so much already. I believe she has best served the country by expressing her views and working inside the Cabinet as well as accepting the disipline of Cabinet responsibility which, unfortunately, she felt she could do no longer.
Now the BUT - sadly, this time I think she has simply lost the plot and just hasn't thought it through - unless her objective is to wallow in political indecisiveness and to deliver this country into, what may be for her, a paradise of squeaky squabbley and WEAK government. She may want this but I think it is irresponsible - it is not for me nor I suspect our country!

  • 61.
  • At 01:38 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jim B wrote:

Claire Short has seen first hand how damaging the power of British Prime Minister is. The PM decides the Cabinet & the agenda. They also have the power to send a country to war. 'Back me or we'll lose power.' Good for swift decisions, but subject to the view of the person.

Proportional representation fits a modern society where we can all easily find out about issues & express our views. Most people in the country have strong views about elements of how the country is run. Much better to enable them to choose a candidate that reflects that rather than restricting choice to a bag of policies.

  • 62.
  • At 01:38 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • walter plant wrote:

I think it would be a good thing,my only proviso,would be that the Labour Party had a majority big enough to have a Labour Prime Minister,say an overall of about five.Idealy,a parliament such as during the second world war.

  • 63.
  • At 01:41 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tom Broderick wrote:

I can sympathize with Ms Short and I strongly feel that the country would be better off with a more balanced parliament which would ensue if we had a fairer system than first past the post.

I remember before the '97 election Blair saying much the same thing, but given his two subsequent whopping majorities he backed off from the idea (surprise surrpise!).

So, yes, if a hung parliament brings about a better electoral system then I would be all for it.

Its a pity that our system of government brings about large majorities. Thatcher's and Blair's majorities enabled them to carry out very controversial and disasterous policy decisions such as the Poll Tax and the Iraq War that we could have avoided had parliament actually reflected the country. What's more, a more balanced parliament, unlike a goverment, can more readily reflect changes in opinion and make it easier to force a government to put things right when policies start to go wrong. PMs often regard back-tracking as a sign of weakness either in their character or in their original decisions and therefore are prone resist such moves.


  • 64.
  • At 01:43 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • D Knopfler wrote:

It's obvious that Cameron will easily be positioned to do a deal with the Liberals and vice versa if he needs to - either way Gordon Brown might he as well retire along with Blair as only a landslide Labour victory could prevent it, and that's never going to happen, particularly after a decade of non-labourite legislation and a foreign policy train wrecks like Iraq.

  • 65.
  • At 01:43 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • james wishart wrote:

It sounds like a dull manifesto item but a fairer voting system is the best way to revive our democracy and should be top of the political agenda.

  • 66.
  • At 01:44 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

A hung parliament would certainly be a good thing if the smaller parties were ready for it. I think that if the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens and possibly the SDLP could agree in advance to form a grand alliance with the specific purpose of achieving a hung parliament and breaking the two party system by demanding PR as the price for their support, then they could be onto something.

What we do not need is for the election to take place first and for lots of scrambling around to form an administration afterwards with deals behind closed doors.

Whether such an alliance would be credible when the Scottish Lib Dems have been proping up the Labour administration in Edinburgh for so long is another question. Perhaps the time for this debate is after the Scottish Assembly elections next spring when that unholy alliance may no longer be relevant.

For now, the idea that such an alliance could lead to the next election being won or lost by tactical voting is an intriguing one.

  • 67.
  • At 01:48 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Clive G wrote:

The current "first past the post system" is not working well, demonstrated so clearly by the present Government.

Clare Short has in effect put the cat amongst the pigeons - and I hope to good effect if it is discussed seriously.

Perhaps we are at the time for a "hung parliament" or proportional representation.

  • 68.
  • At 01:49 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

I totally agree that a hung Parliament would do wonders for our country and politics in general.
However, I hope that it's not just the Labour MP's but also applies to the Tory's.
Also, just think of the work it would provide for all those out of work carpenters in building all those scaffolds.
As for Clair Short I lost any respect for her years ago when she was supposed to join her Labour associate, the late lamented Robin Cook, in resigning. She obviously was hoping for better things from Tony. But that was not to be. As it's said, beware a woman scorned.

  • 69.
  • At 01:55 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Simon Andrew wrote:

Best news I heard today, Claire Short leaving.

Shame the rest of the "looney left" in the Labour party don't follows her.

  • 70.
  • At 01:55 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Chris G wrote:

I was never much of a Rob Cook fan till he made his antiwar resignation speech in the Commons - and he has been proved right many times over.

It's his sort that provided the natural "checks & balances" in the system that are so missing now...

a hung Parliament maybe, but an accountable & listening government (and Prime Minister) certainly...

  • 71.
  • At 01:55 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • geva blackett wrote:

I completely agree with Ms Short's sentiments about this government but cannot agree that a hung parliament would do us any good at all.

Why? Because here in Scotland we have a coalition which allows the Lib Dems to claim the credit for any 'good' things (can't actually think of anything good but they claim it all the time anyway) and then they blame Labour for all the bad things.

A hung parliament at Westminster would allow the Lib Dems to do exactly the same and con the voters into voting for them - but what do they actually stand for...? If you live in a Conservative area - they stand for conservative value; if you live in a labour area, they claim to stand for labour values.

We need a government (both at Westminster and at Holyrood) who has clear ideas on foreign policy, on immigration, to sort out the education mess, the NHS debacle etc etc and they need the mandate to do it!

  • 72.
  • At 01:57 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Sara Peterson wrote:

A hung parliament could give British Democracy the stimulus it needs to revive itself after years of decline. And if this leads to proportional representation atlast, then politics will be healthier and MPs more representative of the people who elect them.

As for Clare Short's career in parliament: it would be impossible for her to stand for Labour again, and her majority suggests she may just lose if she were to stand as an Independent. A defection to the Liberal Democrats perhaps ? I'd guess that the Lib Dems would feel an endorsement from a prominent leftwinger might scare the bright sparks on the right. So it sounds like a media career to me.

  • 73.
  • At 01:59 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jon Nott wrote:

Simon George is quite wrong.

Under First Past the Post the large parties cater not to the interests of "the widest possible range of the electorate" but to the interests of a very small minority (well under half a million) who are swing voters in marginal constituencies.

The broad coalitions which make up Labour and Conservatives (and to a lesser extent LibDems) must unite behind policies that are popular with this minority rather than representing the majority of the population.

A fair voting system would break up these coalitions and replace them with transparent coalitions based on the views of the electorate.

  • 74.
  • At 02:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Shinn wrote:

No.

No enterprise ever reached it full potential through weak leadership.

  • 75.
  • At 02:10 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • gerry clarke wrote:

great idea. gives the best of all worlds, left, right and centre!

  • 76.
  • At 02:20 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ernest Philip Hutton wrote:

I agree with Clare Short, I think labour has completely lost it's way & that a hung parliament could only be a good thing for the country

  • 77.
  • At 02:24 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Martin wrote:

I think we need oversight in politics in this country. All polititians should be limited to serving 2 fixed 4 year terms. The call for a hung parliament comes about because there is so little difference between the parties and neither of them offer the policies that people actually want. I think a huge number of people like me and most people I know feel disenfranchised because all three main parties are moving ever further away from the kind of things that we want to see happen here. Even if some minority parties are nearer to offering what we want we know they will not be elected so what's the point and so the none of the above vote goes up all the time.

  • 78.
  • At 02:25 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jackie Domingo wrote:

No,a Hung Parliament would not be good, we need a clear and decisive regime, not the back-biting / in-fighting turmoil of the present Labour government. I am still hoping for a Conservative Government in the very near future, based on Labour being ousted with the country having a no-confidence vote to remove them. If we have to be stuck with them for awhile, it is hoped that Gordon Brown will not just walk unchallenged into No 10, but lose to John Reid, as at least he has some conviction to the needs of Britain and the British.

  • 79.
  • At 02:27 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Leo Aliferis wrote:

If our soldiers are fighting and dying to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan then it's about time we had it here too !

This'first past the post' system is a travesty of democracy designed to artificially insure that a specific political party gets control of Parliament whilst not actually having a mandate from the people !

How long has it been since a political party was really 'popular' ? Instead of concensus parties have rammed their policies down the populations throats under the pretext of having the 'go ahead' from the voters !

  • 80.
  • At 02:28 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • laurence cooper wrote:

We desperately need an alternative to the current situation. Single handedly, Tony Blair and his cronies have managed to disenfranchise the entire population of this country. Currently, elections are a farce, giving the impression that we can actually make a difference by voting for politician A or not voting for politician B. Electoral turnouts show that most of the electorate feel this as well. If a hung parliament would give the change and reform we need, then why not?

  • 81.
  • At 02:33 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Keith Stuart-Smith wrote:


A hung parliament? NO! Absolutely not as it would enble a minority party have the balance of power and this cannot be democratic! Miss Short has frequently had crazy ideas in the past and this is another one.

  • 82.
  • At 02:33 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Simon Gerrard wrote:

Yes, this country is desperate for a Hung Parliament because something has to happen to the political class to remind them that this is our country, not theirs. This government, like no other I can ever remember has abused the power we handed them, something no political party could afford to do in a Hung Parliament situation.
Give Britain back to its people!

  • 83.
  • At 02:33 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • MICK FENNER. wrote:

Hello I do not think this is something to decide now without the enlightened give us the pros and cons.
If brought about then local elections should possibly be a none party election as this has nothing to do with party politics and would help us to decide the best person.

  • 84.
  • At 02:36 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Michael Ashby wrote:

Something needs to happen to restore interest and ultimately faith in our leadership systems- our 'democracy'. I am not sure a hung parliament will give us that but any shake up from the status quo will be a step in the right direction. We could do so much better with the resources we have and the (waning) influence we have in the world. We all need to make small changes in the way we live our lives and I am not sure that there is enough commiment for that. Historically us Brits prefer to stand back and bemoan the state of things rather than take real action - The beauty and shame also about the freedom of speech we enjoy is that we manage to get out our anger by verbalising it and therefore no longer feel the need to ACT for change to bring on the revolution!

  • 85.
  • At 02:44 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Barbara Kendall-Davies wrote:

Claire Short is a courageous woman. Anything that brings Cabinet and Parliamentary government back on track would be an improvement for the UK.
Tony Blair modelled himself on Thatcher and is suffering the same fate. David Cameron should beware of modelling himself on Blair. The UK has had enough of "show-biz personalities" and is ready for politicians with wisdom and vision.
Is Nigel Farrage the coming man?!

  • 86.
  • At 02:45 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • jeff ettridge wrote:

I think a hung Parliament would not only be a wonderful solution to the present mess that this country now finds itself in. It would give the rope makers a chance to display the quality of a British product while clearing a backlog of "Many dark actors playing games".This would create a National[BRITISH] holiday with the people making the insane calls of judgement[ideas for television programmes could be selected at random in keeping with the usual government procedure]The only problem that may prevent this going ahead is the strength of the rope produced -is it strong enough? We did try to carve statute of Mr Blair,but we couldn't find a piece of wood thick enough.Your'e bound to get noticed if you hang around long enough

  • 87.
  • At 02:47 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Emma Burnell wrote:

I don't think either a hung parliament or PR are going to help us solve the bigger issues of the day, on which we need strong leadership by a strong government.

However, I would support the abolition of the Whip, as a way of improving and engendering the level of parliamentary debate.

  • 88.
  • At 02:49 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Duncan Allan wrote:

I think Clare is right I would hang the Bloody Lot of them or bus them down to Beachy Head and Boot them off the cliffs. Which ever option is Cheaper for Taxpayer.

Good idea! Hang Congress, too, while you're at it. Or didn't you mean the "rope kind of hung?" tmc

  • 90.
  • At 02:50 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

C'mon guys & gals don't sell yourselves short(no pun intended) I admire Claire for her anti Blair stance & no nonsense dialogue... but a Hung Parliament?!!methinks there's some mischief being talked/thought up by Browneites & Short,(& remember she worked closely with GB in the early days )& they are really so desperate, so maybe!!...However lets get real,things can only go downhill for New Labour when Blair goes, for all his faults he's a statesman & the best sticking plaster they've ever had, & when the plaster comes off..the brothers will revert to Real Labour ... The Tories will romp home.

  • 91.
  • At 02:50 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Roland Gross wrote:

I thought the pre-Thatcher system of giving each side only four years worked really well. They spent most of that time solely undoing the previous Govts work so were in no danger of doing anything significant.

Maybe a hung parliament is the next best thing.

  • 92.
  • At 02:51 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • sid wrote:

Yes i do think that hung perliment is batter we have seen that when it came to the war on Iraq.it was blind flow the blind ,aspect for the libdems.

  • 93.
  • At 02:52 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Sean Mc Carthy wrote:

Blair/ The Labour Party would have greater problems now had there been a better opposition at the last General Election. Come back Lord Healy.

  • 94.
  • At 02:55 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Dave C wrote:

Parliament is only part of it. What we need is a social revolution. The country is too liberal. We need to go back to the drawing board.

  • 95.
  • At 02:59 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Brian Dukinfield wrote:

Claire Short is making the best contribution she has made so far to British politics by promising not to seek re-election - good on you, Claire!

As for coalition through the back door, consensus politics, proportional representation and political correctness - no thanks.

We need to go forwards not backwards (or most probably, remain stationary).

  • 96.
  • At 03:00 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Helen Kimble wrote:

A hung parliament is normally the worst of both worlds. Neither govt nor the opposition party can do aything that is strongly opposed by their rivals. Only lukewarm legislation, which both parties might have approved anyway, gets through; and very little gets done, except through acrimonious bargaining.

A coalition govt, such as the UK had during WW2, and is common in many European countries with proportional representation, might be the best option for our country now - but not be seen as such by any of the parties. I fear it would need a national emergency to knock their heads together.

In our circumstances, a hung parliament just wouldn't work, with the 2 main parties bitterly opposed - on principle rather than on practical grounds - even though their policies are almost indistinguishable.

The Lib Dems might enjoy it if they held the casting vote, so that they could pick and choose which bills to support and which to kill. But nobody would be really satisfied, especially not the divided electorate.

A Lab/Con coalition would be even more difficult to build. But a Lab/Lib-Dem coalition might just work, if the Lib Dems can recover their vigour and win a few more seats. They're against nuclear weapons and over-centralised government, for a start. They were always against the Iraq war, like the vast majority of the British people. They also share many views with Old Labour, which could play well with voters who are fed up with Tony and his costly "reforms" in health, education & transport and with New Labour's social policies that have failed to prevent further widening of the rich-poor income gap. To attack New Labour on these failings could be electorally popular. (But campaigning parties are more likely to stress their differences with others than their similarities.)

On Labour's part, a Lab/Lib-Dem coalition might well raise hackles with collective memories of Ramsay Macdonald's sell-out in the 1930s. Would it bring the unions on board? If tempted to vote Tory,they would need to be sharply reminded of the Thatcher-Tebbit anti-union policies that squeezed them nearly out of existence in the 80s and 90s.

It may be only a pipe dream, but surely we would be better off with a coalition that unites rather than a hung parliament that leaves parties free to quarrel in public and block vital legislation.

Helen Kimble


  • 97.
  • At 03:01 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

I for one did not vote for old labour I voted for the new variety. If the candidates, whoever they may be, standing for the leadership of the Labour party decide to change the direction of the country. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to have an election so the public themselves can decide. This is supposed to be a democracy after all.

Hopefully, if it does come to a hung parliament, Mr Cameron and Mr Campbell will find that they have more in common then they first thought. The Labour Party is, painfully, no longer a credible option for the future.

  • 98.
  • At 03:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • averil wrote:

Yes i agree ,there should be a hung parlament,The sooner the better.

  • 99.
  • At 03:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Martyn wrote:

The crucial fault has been that MPs now represent their parties to their constituencies, rather than telling their parties what their constituents think. Essentially, the Whips and Party machines are more powerful than the voters.

When you only have 2 (or maybe 2 and a half) major parties this is a major restriction on debate, and leads to "safe" politics aimed at offending the least number of people. It aslo leads to frankly rubbish policies in areas of long term challenge - like climate change or penisons policy.

Where I think PR would help is that it would lead us having more parties, and the public having a stronger say in which ones prospered. At the minute, you are really are left with almost not choice at all.

  • 100.
  • At 03:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

I certainly agree with her. We've seen far too much hubris from politicians over the last few years. Although as a hung parliament is the result of a myriad of votes and is quite finely balanced I am at a loss to understand how one can campaign for it.

  • 101.
  • At 03:11 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • tim wrote:

If after exhaustive analysis and debate a jury is 'hung', that's one thing (and, doubtless, a healthy manifestation of free world democratic principles at work). However, if a member of a jury goes into deliberations with the intention of holding-out for a hung jury and for that result-oriented purpose alone, then that's quite another.

If the question were posed in the context of our government here in the States, a "hung" Congress would most likely produce favorable results in terms of political shakedown & overhaul...however, a "hanged" Congress, in its inbred entirety, would be far more desirable.

  • 102.
  • At 03:14 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Norman Hopkins wrote:

While I agree with Clair Short's thinking, the practical difficulties in achieving a hung parliament are immense. It is essential that we keep to a left wing adgenda.

NO, a hung parliament would not be good for Britain.

All that would happen is secret sleazy deals would be made by the same Party interests. That makes democracy even worse; no one gets what they wanted. Nor would changing the voting system to PR help, it would actually manage to make it far worse.

Things are bad enough now with all parties catering to a tiny percentage of 'floating voters', mediocrity and inaction for fear of offending voters, on sensitive issues. Obviously we do need the boundaries redrawn to at least make the system we have fair, not a 10% bias in favor of Labour. But then Labour are totalitarian, so will not do the right thing.

Now change the system to selection for Parliament by lot, like a jury, that would rid us of professional politicians, and be real democracy!

At last somenoe with some sence and convictions. Clare Short is too be respected, which I am afraid you cannot say that about the rest of the Labour Government. Jacqui

  • 105.
  • At 03:28 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ted Brandon wrote:

Hung Parliament or no hung Parliament, there will be no true democracy until Parliament as the legislature asserts its dominance over the Executive

  • 106.
  • At 03:28 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Noel Dobson wrote:

I would think that hung parliaments are recipes for achieving nothing in particular.
It is evident that change is needed because no Prime Minister should be ever again allowed to commit this country to fighting another nation without the full authority of our Parliament. This should prevent lies like 'weapons of mass destruction' ever being used to deceive the nation again.

It would also need to be a free vote. Deciding to kill people and have your own troops killed should not be subject to party politics.

Important changes are best done like eating an elephant,just a bit at a time. Taking this power away from the Prime Minister would be a good way to start acieving some much needed change

  • 107.
  • At 03:36 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John L wrote:

You won't have noticed since BBC England stopped covering Scottish affairs after devolution, but we have a 'hung' parliament in Scotland. It has brought us some good things: no top-up fees, free personal care and travel for the elderly etc. and it has generally been more responsive to Scotland than a simple New Labour outpost would have been.

If things continue with the parties down there trying to focus down on the Daily Mail readers who hold the balance of power then it may be that we'd end up going for independence.

  • 108.
  • At 03:39 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Yates wrote:

What we need is a 'one-time' party.

This would consist of candidates standing on a mainfesto with some specific objectives - the main one being electoral reform - which, once achieved, would see the one-time party disbanded and the country given the chance to a meaningful vote.

The objective of the electoral reform would be to ensure that no candidate wins a seat until more than 50% of the electorate had selected the candidate.Besides electoral reform, the manifesto would include a range of 'common sense' items to include but not be limited to the following:

The exclusion of all non-English MPs from parliamentary votes that only concern England.

A major overhaul of, and reduction in numbers of, quangos.

Maximum empowerment to the Audit Commission to review and cut costs in all government departments.

Central and local government departments to publicly announce, and seek Audit Commission approval, for all 'cosmetic' expenditure such as redecoration, first class travel and other 'internal' items.

The annual publication of an 'easy to understand' Government income and expense report with:
- specific breakdowns for each and every department, including all external costs such as consultancies and IT projects.
- detailed figures for all quangos
- full EU contributions and receipts
- year on year comparisons.

A concerted effort to demand properly audited EU annual figures supported by a withholding of payments until achieved.

A countrywide water grid.

The re-nationalisation of all major utilities.

A set of meaningful conditions before anyone, apart from asylum seekers, would be allowed to move to this country - to include speaking English and having a worthwhile skill that provides a good chance of gaining employment.

Investment and incentives to get the carriage of goods back onto trains and off the roads.

Fully resourced and equipped armed forces.

No armed forces involvement in other counries unless under sanctioned by, or under the banner of, the UN.

The exclusion of a person's main residence in any inheritance tax calculation.

Forcing builders to ensure that, annually, 50% of their new buildings provide realistic opportunities for first time buyers.

Making any form of property or green belt 'squatting' illegal and giving police the power for immediate eviction.

The prevention of the sale, in 5 years time, of any motor vehicle that does not meet published CO2 emission levels and is not capable of achieving, say, 60 miles to the gallon in urban use.

The replacement of the Tax disc by a disc, issued by Insurance companies, containing both vehicle registration and insurance policy details.

  • 109.
  • At 03:46 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Colin Chamberlain wrote:

No. Who wants to start trading policies with the LIB-DEMS?

  • 110.
  • At 03:47 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Cllr Patrick Smith wrote:


I admire Clare Short`s refusal to cow tail and she speaks clearly,honestly and is in favour of more democracy in the UK and not less, as we still have a Govt elected with a mire 22.6% of the population,under `First Past the Post'!

Clare Short supports the STV version of PR and she would make a good Liberal Democrat!

Many young persons and ethnic minorities were tuned off in recent Local and General Elections and the excellent Power Commission is asking why?

We have a national government,that still allows,in some terms, almost tanatamount republican style presidentail power.The PM alone has presided and cajoled over foreign policy, in Iraq, in the absence of neither a War Powers Act, that would require a `consensus'vote in the Parliament, to declare war or commit troops abroad!

We must care more about how many represent the `unenfranchised or silent majority and in that task I support Clare`s views.

She should campaign for a wide debate on the key parts of the Power Report and PR and if it leads to a `Hung Parliamnt'-that is what the People of the UK will decree!

PR is more likely to lead to a greater degree of democractic fairness and less `bully-boy' politics!

  • 111.
  • At 03:51 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Robert Page wrote:

Forget the hung parliament. Hang the politicians.

  • 112.
  • At 03:51 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Syed Ali wrote:

I agree with clair Short. Any party with a big majority can become complacent as we experienced both with Thatcher Government and now with Tony Blair who acts like a President ignoring even his own MPs.

We live in a parliamentary democracy and as such power should not be concentrated in Downing Street as seems to be the case at the moment.

  • 113.
  • At 04:01 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • R Lockhart wrote:

Hung Parliaments only bring weak and ineffective Government, in so far that small or extremist parties have a disproportionate influence with the threat of disolving the governing coalition, the examples being Italy and Israel.

But then again acid baths or a strong hempen rope do have their attractions. Do the Home Office still retain the tables of drop for an execution. I have no problem in volunteering for the job.

Politicians in recent years have too little to do, not enough life experience, looking at all the ex- legal and local government incumbents of MPs postions. Politicians who wish to commit armed forces overseas need to see the consequences of their actions. Maybe is shoould be compulsary for a member of their family to be in the Armed Services.

The Federation of rope makers would welcome an increase in work for thieir members.

But at the end of the day are we not all commiting the act of Treason by calling for a hung parliament. I await the PC police with interest.

  • 114.
  • At 04:02 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Bill McIntosh wrote:

Thank God Claire Short is quitting. Good riddance. What a belly-aching do nothing waste of space! If only the BBC could resist giving her tonight's additional exposure. Last week's pathetic Newsnight edition with Kristy Wark was among the worst excuses for news television journalism in UK history. The BBC should be ashamed of using such light-weight wind bags, but that is what you get from having such little competition.
As for a hung parliament, whatever the composition, it will bear little similarity to the positions Claire waffles on about. Unlike her, it will need to act on matters.

  • 115.
  • At 04:05 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ron Bower wrote:

Coalition government is what is required.It got us throughthe last world war and worked then and will I think work again.

  • 116.
  • At 04:11 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • jonathan baggaley wrote:

Even if you hung the lot of them (would save on MPs pension bills), it would not make a jot of difference to the amount of badly drafted rules and regulations that would still continue to be imposed on the people of England. England is now governed by Europe with 41% (source - British Chamber of Commerce) of regulations originating there. Scotland and Wales parliaments have been hived off to appease the devolutionists but like England they too have only a limited level of power albeit with a massive capacity to spend our taxes.
In fact, I am not totally sure what we pay the MPs for any more particularly as their salaries are way over the top for the level of expertise they can offer compared to most commercial managers.
On reflection, perhaps the initial facetious comment was the right way to go after all.

  • 117.
  • At 04:17 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jason Kelly (Ayr) wrote:

I am a Labour supporter and a card carrying member. But what Claire Shorts comments prove is that some Far Left wingers and Union Leaders like BOB CROW, RMT. Want is to be in opposition. I am only 34 years old, so during the winter of discontent I was too young too understand. But what I do know is that the strikes of that year started the Tory party resurgance and 18 years of turmoil for this country. And that is what we are in danger of doing again. Only then will these idiots be happy. Then they can shout and blame everyone else. But instead they should work with the present Government and make life better for all of us. I dont want my party to be in opposition. The country would be on its knees again. All the investment we have seen in our public services in our communities would quickly be forgotten.
But if Claire Short is happy with a return to 3 million unemployed. The poor being even poorer, our hospitals closing instead of new ones being built or upgraded like just now, then she is self centered and her constituents and the rest of the country are better off without her. All this bickering just helps the tories and the well off. Its the poor who will suffer if they get back into Downing Street. So thanks Claire Short and Bob Crow. On your heads be it. At least you have the jobs and prospects to cope with a Tory government. But maybe you should think about the real people you are supposed to represent.

Jason Kelly
Ayr

  • 118.
  • At 04:18 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Nagaraj wrote:

Maybe not a hung parliament - that would lead to enormous wrangling over minor petty issues and nothing would ever get resolved.

It mught be better to have the present system with a majority government able to propose its legislative programme, but allow a free vote on bills.

Members' voting records would then better reflect their constituents' views

We might not have gone to war in Iraq if this had been the case.

  • 119.
  • At 04:23 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Phil Donelan wrote:

I aggree entirley with Clair Short.
"Parlimentry Goverment" is a great Idea.

  • 120.
  • At 04:39 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John Bell wrote:

I agree with Ms Short, we need a shake up of the political system in the UK if we want a modern democracy. I believe that people have turned away from being involved in the political process and that can only be a bad thing. This current 'New Labour' administration has done so much damage to the electorates trust and faith in the democratic process. I find it hard to believe that anyone other than the most faithfull party member can look forward to another invitation to vote New Labour back in to power even with GB at the helm.

  • 121.
  • At 04:40 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • William Kay wrote:

I used to think electoral reform to give Britian a system of Proportional Representation was a great idea. However, after living for 10 years in a country with PR (Norway), I've pretty much change my mind.

Voting is a complicated affair: you can cross out candidates, give two votes to another, add your own names to the list - yes, you vote for a party list, not a single representative.

The result: coalition governments which rarely last their full term and which can never implement the majority of their election promises. Why not? In order to form the coalition, each party has to drop certain policies and they may all then agree on something completely different.

Norwegians seem largely disillusioned with their governments, knowing that a coalition just means a government no-one is really satisfied with.

  • 122.
  • At 04:46 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Vezzutto wrote:

A hung parliament resulting in a series of compromises would be a disaster.

The only thing Ms. Short should be 'profoundly ashamed of ' is her own despicable, self-serving behaviour.

Westminster wil be well rid of her and her nauseating self-promotion.

  • 123.
  • At 04:46 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Smith wrote:

Mike Yates wants a situation where English matters are debated my English MP's.
I have some sympathy with this, except that when the shoe was on the other foot and English MP's quite happily voted on Scottish matters I didn't hear a single cry of support from England !!!

  • 124.
  • At 04:54 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John.Henry.Bullivant wrote:

PR or even a hung parliament would certainly be an advantage for the electorate by eliminating the fiasco we are now being subjected to as a result of the first past the post electoral system allowing one political party to rule dictatorially by excluding other parties views.The present Blair and wife problem of deciding to resign I feel, is their fear of losing all the goodies they appear to have milched through out their reign. In addition to fihding the cash to pay off the £3million mortgage they appartenly decided upon, and having to go back to basics.

  • 125.
  • At 05:00 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Bachchan wrote:

Well done Clair Short !!!!!!

  • 126.
  • At 05:03 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Duncan Allan wrote:

My 2nd Comment on this Caper

I do believe some of you people are missing the point. There are shall we say certain Gentlemen? in this country who think its OK to throw acid onto young girls faces, they also think its Ok to Kill their Daughters in the name of Honour ( I cant for the life of me think of where the honour is there ) They also believe its perfectly Ok to strap some Explosive substance to their bodies and Kill as many people as possible in this country. On the other hand we have 650 or so Ladies? & Gentlemen? in this country who think its perfectly OK to Tax the Indigenous people of this country up to the Hilt to House Feed Clothe and protect The Human rights of the above mentioned.

  • 127.
  • At 05:14 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Michael Harris wrote:

I am a lifelong Conservative and a Local Borough Councillor. I have spent the day, today with Councillors of all pursausions. Claire is not alone in her party! Active Labour people are equally ashamed. This wont bring about a hung parliament, it will bring a Conservative Government. Many 'Old Labour' with a scrap of morality will feel sad and relieved! Believe it or not I sympathise. I respect 'Old' Labour and despise 'New ' Labour as do many of its own members.

  • 128.
  • At 05:18 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Malcolm Clark wrote:

You can't campaign for a hung parliament - there is too much of a danger that people get an unwanted Conservative government by accident. But on other points Clare is correct. Labour needs to realise that electoral reform really is in its - and the country's - interests. In Scotland Labour - in coalition, under a PR system - has been able to push through much more radical, progressive policies and politics than at Westminster. Electoral reform would help re-energise many local Labour parties and activists - by making their campaigning and efforts matter and count to the result - and make the party stronger. Clare Short is right that the time is now. For - unless something is done -one day in the near future Labour might well wake up and regret not changing the system.

  • 129.
  • At 05:42 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ivor Marshall wrote:

Normally I would say a 'Hung' parliament was a bad thing however, we appear to be at war with almost everyone doing the U.N's job for them on the dictate of one person Tony Blair, many decisions on the verge of war crimes, it has to stop, in the circumstances a 'Hung' parliament could slow down the man who appears to be more interested in personal ego than the country at the same time allowing our whole political system to be overhauled, ALL parties leave a lot to be desired, England voted for a conservative government but got labour because of Scottish and Welsh voting patterns, a hung parliament may lead to a break up of the union but that's what the Welsh and Scots have wanted for years and now we the English want it al well.

A hung parliament would be fantastic.

Let the next Labour government, or Lib-Lab coalition, try to use Scottish and Welsh MPs to force through English domestic legislation at every session.

End of the Union.

  • 131.
  • At 06:08 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Peter A wrote:


This Debate is becoming a mass of differenrt issues :

1.Do we need a HUNG PARLIAMENT ...Not really ...but if it makes all our parties realise what a mess our so-called democracy & political systems have become ...possibly this will help in 2009 / 2010...

2.We do need a better system than first past the post ....it is outdated & undemocratic ...

3.We need to get away from our obsession from parties & focus more on policies & issues plus what we need as a state / nation

4.To curb Government / Executive plus abuse of power -we need fixed election dates ...eg First Thursday or weekend in May -no more choosing favoured periods plus a fixed two terms for any Prime Minister

5.We need an ELECTED SECOND CHAMBER on a different electoral basis to ensure revision of BAD LEGISLATION & ABUSE OF POWER

6.We must reduce numbers of MPs from 600 plus to 400 maximum plus 200 in second chamber ....far too many at present doing what ....?

7.We need to allow local electors to decide on local spending / local taxes & to curb waste rather than Cent Govt trying to dictate

If we do not change our existing undemocratic systems than we simply allow extermist elements from both Right & Left to dominate mainsteam life & politics ...we will certainly suffer under such a future ....

  • 132.
  • At 06:10 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John Bowles wrote:

A pity that a better than average, ( I would use the word great with caution ) MP, someone with integrity and prepared to say what the electorate voted her in to do is to retire. I wish she would stand as an independent.
I would welcome a hung parliament, being a Eurosceptic, we may get a referendum on our continued membership of the EU.
Remember, no person under the age of 47 has ever had a say on this

  • 133.
  • At 06:12 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Caroline wrote:

Clare Short is exactly right. A hung parliament is our only chance of electoral reform, and electoral reform is desperately needed. We cannot claim to live in a democracy when the reality is the only votes that count are those case in "marginal" seats.

I live in a Labour stronghold and have never voted Labour. My vote counts for nothing. And I am not alone in this: indeed the majority of the electorate live in "safe" seats.

No wonder there's such a low turnout at elections. We all know we're wasting our time.

  • 134.
  • At 06:25 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Alfred Boye wrote:

A Hung Parliament:

A silly idea which would allow a political tail to wag the political dog

People like Claire Short and these Labour idealists from the left, had no problem getting into bed with Tony Blair's ideology when it was electing her to Government, not many voices were raised against Blairism in 1997 that I can remember, when it brought Government to the "un-electable" Labour Party which seemed at the time, doomed to be in opposition forever, they even payed with the PR idea of the Liberals. Anyone remember the Lib-Lab Pact?

What would be better idea would be for an Electoral Manifesto to be construed and accepted as a Contract upon which a Party in Government could be sued, this would ensure adherence to terms and would keep politicians on their toes.

  • 135.
  • At 06:30 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Alfred Boye wrote:

Yes Contributor, Mr Major held on in Government with the Support of the NI Unionists.

1. Please remember the Tories are known as the Conservative and Unionist Party, would you have expected the NI Unionists to expel a Unionist Government in favour of a Socialist one in the form of old Labour and Neil Kinnock, who were anti-unionist and pro republican Sinn Fein?

2. As I have written in another posting, does anyone remember the Lib_lab pact which kept the Callaghan Government in Power?

Birds of a fether etc

  • 136.
  • At 06:34 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Ian Olive wrote:

I can totally understand Clare Short coming to the end of her piece of string. I'm amazed she has managed to last as long as she has with the disgraceful performance of the government of which she was once part, both at a personal level as well in terms of governing the country. She gets my vote as the best man the labour party never had. I love her to bits for he honesty and sheer guts to stand up to the bastards.

  • 137.
  • At 06:42 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Rick wrote:

Clare is a fine politician. I knew her in the mid 90's when I was on the executive of the RMT. I can't blame her for stepping down. Many of us have been betrayed by so-called new labour.

  • 138.
  • At 06:49 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Richard Holt wrote:

I don't think you should hang them all; just some.

  • 139.
  • At 06:50 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David London wrote:

Historically we needed MPs to represent the will of the people, to decide matters in our name because we could not all gather in one place, at one time, to decide law ourselves. That is the logic that lead to our Parliamentarian system.

Times have changed. Technology allows the potential for all citizens to directly participate in decision making. It is achievable through referenda. The issue is put, the opposing sides debate and the people decide the policy. The middlemen and women ie MPs, can for a great many issues, though not all, be removed.

Referendum is the ultimate and most direct voice of the nation. In this way The People could direct governemnt at any time, rather than having to await election time.

It obviates many of the problems resultant from both the first-past-the-post and proportional electoral systems. It is also the most decisive means of changing the political landscape as it achieves, at a stroke, the placing of the will of the nation back in its rightful place as the ultimate source of all power and law in this land.

  • 140.
  • At 06:51 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • richardson wrote:

Clare Short For Prime Minister

  • 141.
  • At 06:52 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Doug Sharp wrote:

Attagirl Clare. Give 'em Hell

  • 142.
  • At 06:53 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Shafique A Choudhary wrote:

Hung parliment is a best instrument against dictorship - what is wrong with it?

I support the arguments for electoral reform, which should include some meritocratic weighting to reflect one's achievements and contributions to society, plus a form of Proportional Representation (based on analysis of best results observed in other PR countries).

The trouble with most people is they think within tram lines. PR is no solution at all; some here with foreign experience have said how awful it is. So any electoral reform if any at all, needs to be real, not the farce of PR so beloved of party professional politicians.

A solution is permanent 'elections'. We should vote for a person, who publicises his/her policies/principals. That vote should be transferable at any time. Then rather like a stock market share price, only the top so many supported individuals get to be in Parliament. This removes the canker of parties. Also we can pick any individual that has a near complete set of matching ideas to our own, not being lumbered with a party manifesto that gives completely spurious support for obscure policy that few took any notice of when voting. When new issues come up, like the Iraq war, if the person you currently lodge your vote for is for it and you are not, you simply take your vote away and look for the next best match to your views who is against the Iraq war. Perhaps weekly checked, there would be a few MPs thrown out and others coming in. The government would then be more subject to Parliament; parties would cease to be in control. MPs voting against ‘their voters’ desires could be out in weeks. No secure place for 4 years whatever they do. Parliament elects ministers to offices, and can dismiss them to.

  • 145.
  • At 07:19 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David A wrote:

1. Yes
2. Perhaps
2. Probably not

I had rather hoped we might get a hung parliament in the mid 80s but it was not to be.
We just get the same old Tory stretch followed by a Labour stretch, then back to Tory, then Labour...God knows how much money is wasted on that facade posing as democracy. Meanwhile we're heading for facism by stealth; noone knows which party to vote for as they all seem so similar; the party faithfull gnash their teeth and wail in vain for what used to be and none of our politicians seem the least inclined to give the long suffering people of this country what they actually want!
Note I don't mention issues - (too many to list)or names (too unimportant to normal people - why give their inflated egos more publicity?)

  • 146.
  • At 07:28 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Sue wrote:

I don't normally agree with much that Clare Short says, but I firmly believe she's well on the right track with the Hung Parliament idea. There is far too much power in the hands of so few as things stand, so let's give it a try and spread it around. Put a real vote to the electorate in order to Test The Nation completely.

Well done Clare Short and those words have rarely come from me to go in her direction before, but in Short she's correct - so long as dear Gordon isn't at the helm!!!!

  • 147.
  • At 07:32 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Terry wrote:

Any suggestion by M/s Short couldn't possibly any good, for the U.K. or any one else. She's a complete loser.

  • 148.
  • At 07:38 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • bill kennedy wrote:

I agree with Clare.

  • 149.
  • At 07:49 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Peter Stitt wrote:

A hung Parliament would simply result in chaos and inactivity. The people that make up our population are a competitive "all or nothing" lot, certainly not a nation of compromisers.

Clare Short is just a very bitter woman who didn't know when to jump in order to retain a shred of credibility.

  • 150.
  • At 07:53 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Erin Makela wrote:

No, reform is needed, not a huge parliament

  • 151.
  • At 07:56 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Andrew Kitching wrote:

With Clare on this. FPTP concentrates power far too much (Blair and Thatcher have gone too far as a result of this system). STV NOW!

  • 152.
  • At 08:01 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John McIntyre wrote:

I have never agreed with Clare Short before she introduced this idea; nor would I have ever thought it possible that I would support anything but a decisive election outcome that would give us a strong government. However, having lived under de facto elected dictatorships for most of the past quarter of a century I find that a hung parliament would be the only way to restore sanity to this countrys' ruling elite. Our politicians, of all shades but particularly the current lot, are unfit for office. They serve only their paymasters and themselves. Each and everyone of them is sleazy.

  • 153.
  • At 08:02 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Stuart wrote:

With all parties keen to improve their female representation it is never going to be a well-hung parliament.

  • 154.
  • At 08:05 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Stuart wrote:

Whenever I go into a pub I hear people bemoaning the lack coalition government.

It is often the first thing people want to talk about.

Well done Ms Short for showing once again, how in touch with the public she is...

  • 155.
  • At 08:06 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John Riseley wrote:

I agree with Clare on the need for electoral reform. I’m not sure a hung Parliament (even if achievable except by accident) is the way to bring it about. More importantly, I suspect we are a long way from agreeing what form this change should take. Proportional representation might do more harm than good.

For that reason I would suggest trying a more modest reform, the introduction of preference voting within the present constituency system. That would allow people to vote for a new party or an Independent candidate (perhaps Clare herself) if they like them, without their vote being ‘wasted’ if not many other people turn out to be interested them. This would allow new ideas to come through, and force the old parties to adapt quickly to take up such ideas. It would allow us a choice on the many issues where the main parties are in agreement.

It would also allow one party to put up more than one candidate in the same constituency, perhaps a man and a woman, black and white or pro and anti on some issue dividing the party.

I agree that we can vote to get electoral reform even if none of the parties are proposing it. Those of us wanting reform should make it clear to the party in power that we will punish them at the next election if they haven’t introduced reform by then. For this we need to follow Clare’s example in putting this issue above party loyalty. This should not be so difficult. Party activists will naturally emphasise the difference between the parties, but in reality it is not usually that important which of them gets in.

A further reform I would suggest is for the new second chamber actually to be several separate chambers working in parallel, each with its own specialist policy area and each directly elected. We would then get to a vote on each policy area and not just on the whole package deal.

  • 156.
  • At 08:16 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

The issue of Electoral Reform is driven in no small measure by the fact that the government has an indecently large majority with less than 40% of the popular vote. It follows that Labour has a lot to loose from PR. The Tories, by contrast, would probably benefit. So it is far from a foregone conclusion that there would be an alliance between Labour and the Lib Dems in a hung parliament. If the Tories were prepared to deliver PR, I am sure the Lib Dems would take them very seriously indeed.

  • 157.
  • At 08:37 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Kevin Donnelly wrote:

Use a variation of the French model, in which any candidate to be elected must get over 50% of the votes cast. Failing that, the two candidates with the most votes have a final contest a week or two later.
Likewise the PM must also be directly elected in a similar procedure.
Finally, fixed term annual or bi-annual parliaments would reduce the electoral abuse inflicted on us the voters.

  • 158.
  • At 09:33 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Terri Robson wrote:

As a Canadian who thinks having a evenly distributed multi-party parliament would be a good thing,it can also lead to more corruption within.In this day and age of multi-culturism in almost every country there needs to be some kind of reform to address democracy in the election process. I am a firm believer in WORLD VOTE,where the effects of one countries policies interfere with other countries.This would mean a WORLD VOTE on such things as environment;health;education and the transparency of intelligence.It has been proven time and again that governments DO NOT actually respect the majority of the population.

  • 159.
  • At 10:22 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Dr Sibani Roy wrote:

I do not thing that Hung parliamemt is healthy for any government, it might lead to dissolving the parliament, care taker government and re-election. And who suffers? - public.

Unfortunately, while a hung parliament is possible, it is not possible to make it last long enough to have any beneficial effect. The first party to perceive that its poll rating has increased sufficiently will simply pick a popular issue on which to "stick" and force a new election. (See 1974 UK Elections for example)

The first reasonable step we can take towards true democracy is proportional representation, combined with a statutory election date (a la USA). This "forces" a hung parliament to stick together for at least four or five years. It also ensures that there is considerably more consistency between parliaments because, under PR, they'll never be that different.

The really important difference under a PR system is this. Today there is little significant practical difference between what either of the main parties yet, to hear them speak, you would think they were polar opposites.

Under PR, parties who are genuinely far apart are forced to find common ground.

Which do you think is healthier?

  • 161.
  • At 11:24 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Jack wrote:

I think that a hung parliament would only cause further stagnation in British politics. What we need is an entirely new government, ideally Conservative in my view, to start afresh with more energy, drive and enthusiasm than this Labour regime in decline.

  • 162.
  • At 11:29 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Shane wrote:

A hung paraliament is exactly what the people and the government need (no matter what the government say). I think that no one in this country has confidence in the government no matter what political party got elected. Despite what the media/politicans may say. A hung paraliament would widen the debate on the issues that really matter. Instead what we see is some matters in government put out of the public eye in a blink of an eye just because the majority has a biased view and sometimes refuse to accept that maybe they were wrong. A hung paraliament would allow people like us to make our voices really heard and also remind the government, Why they are there.

  • 163.
  • At 11:31 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • John wrote:

The two main parties make sure the debate about a new and fairer voting system is all about Lib Dem or other smaller parties getting some power.

The reality is this is about democracy and whether we will end up with parties in power with 30% then 20% then 10% of the votes (Labour is currently in power with 36% of the vote,) which would lead to social strife and I believe a breakdown in law and order in this country.

It is for the media to educate the public about other forms of voting, they can tell us what other countries do, they can do documentaries about what other countries think of our voting system, they can be asked why they gave up their first past the post system and how they came to the voting system they currently use and how it works, or doesn't, etc. As long as the BBC bases all it's political coverage inside Westminster and all about the personalities, it is maintaining the immoral status quo that will be to the detriment of this country.

A hung parliament doesn't go nearly far enough. What we need is a directly-elected PM and an independent parliament populated through sortition (jury-style random selection). Parliament cannot hold the executive to account while it is inextricably linked to it through the party-based parliamentary system.

  • 165.
  • At 11:37 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • James Lovejoy wrote:

A hung Parliament is now the only way for the Britsh public to become re-engaged in democracy and for the current apathetic malaise to be reversed. So many crucial issues involving considerable cross-party consensus are at stake. The most presing are tackling the environment, immigration from the EU and achieving the right balance between security and liberty. Our current adversarial and often confrontational system is the biggest turn-off for the overwhelming majority of the public and results from their exclusion fromt the debate (except on Newsnight and Radio 4 that is).

Furthermore, if a hung parliament did lead towards PR, then a PR system need not include fringe parties with often extremist viewpoints. A single tranferable vote system combined with a minimum share of the vote for representation in parliament would exclude the likes of BNP, UKIP and any others that choose to stand.
A PR system would also almost certainly mean we did not follow blindly on the shirtails of the USA for our foreign policy objectives which would be very desirable for the UK and the rest of the world.

Clare Short herself, of course, famously made enemies of absolutely everybody when she a) quit; b) unquit; c) quit again; as a self-styled stand against principle itself.

The idea of a hung parliament, however, is more attractive than its promoter.

We have a ruling party which has gone so far off the rails of good sense and moderation, it's no longer in sight of the tracks. We have a Conservative Party which purports to be all new, all listening and all moderation. I wrote to them a couple of weeks ago about the Iraq war, and they wrote back talking about the scourge of illegal immigrants - the same claptrap of their last 20 years. The LibDems... they wouldn't even put themselves in power!

  • 167.
  • At 11:51 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Tony Allison wrote:

I agree with Clair Short in her wish for a hung parliament. This would give breathing space away from the insidious pass the parcel of power from one major party to the other in the monstrous facade of a democracy that our system is. We need new paries with individuals that truly represent the aspirations of the people and who act with integrity and wisdom. As far removed from the self centred, power crazy control freaks of all major parties that we have allowed to dominate this country in the past.

  • 168.
  • At 11:58 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Abowork Ali wrote:

Democratically electing a party to govern is the only best mechanism we have on this little planet of ours. Politicians pretend they were elected to govern and the more they stay in power the more they get corrupted taking bribes directly or indirectly, in our case even selling parliamentary sites at the house of lords. The electorate from Palestinian to Europe or America does not vote in a government but vote out a corrupted government. In the 1980’s the Canadians wiped out the corrupted government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and returned a liberal government, only one conservative MP returned to parliament. Ironically the corrupt finance minister who took over was now voted out and the Tories once again took power in Canada. I am afraid whether we like it or not history may repeat itself in Britain?

  • 169.
  • At 12:03 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Bill wrote:

You can say what you like about Claire Short but at least what she says seems to come from the heart. Not only that but she doesn't need to be seen holding a mug to give it greater effect. I won't say who I'm thinking of!

  • 170.
  • At 12:38 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Hugh Waldock wrote:

I don´t necessarialy agree with people saying the BNP will be represented. For example under the German system of PR parties must achieve 5% of the vote to have their party share represented in Parliament. The German neo-nazi party the NPD has so far never achieved this on a national scale so there is relatively little fear of the BNP muscleing in on Westminster, UKIP and the alliance of socialist parties like Socialist Labour may have a chance however and if they were both represented, this wouldn´t be a bad thing for having a broader debate on the sorts of Ideals we stand for as a nation.

People would learn therefore not to judge people like Clare Short on the way she looks, her grim expression whether she looks sexy or not ,but on her policies and ideas. People like her are BADLY needed in politics becuase politicians never think idealistically any more they only ever care about their own dammed careers, that is the problem. All smiles and no farts and you might get to be PM!! That is no way to run a country or political party I agree with her.

I´m for PR and if a hung parliament is a way into that then good. One disadvantage of PR is that things can go round in circles and very little gets changed when it needs to be changed. Germany being a case in point again. The upside of the same coin is that it does create relative stability in law which is badly needed after Blair´s insistance on constant change in areas such as education.

  • 171.
  • At 12:41 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Tudor Pole wrote:

Dear Sirs,

I think Claire Short is right, a hung Parliament is the best thing that could happen at the next election. Maybe then politicians would begin to respect the wishes of the people more than they do. I think a big majority is a bad thing for any party to have, they become arrogant. If we had a hung parliament we would not be in the mess we find ourselves in the Middle East because we would never have gone to war with Iraq in the first place.

My advice to Claie Short would be to get off the Labour benches before she is thrown off and to join the opposition.

Yours faithfully

Tudor Pole.

  • 172.
  • At 12:54 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

What a pity Clare Short only found the courage to speak out as soon as she found herself out of a job! This lot (of which she was one) has well and truly led a gullible electorate up the garden path since '97. I wish a few more would now come clean and rescue us from her old pal Mr Brown!

  • 173.
  • At 12:57 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Chris W wrote:

Clare Short is completely right. I'm a Tory voter but perversely have a considerable respect for the honesty of some of those further to the Right and Left relative to the fudging of those desperate to crowd themselves into and others out of the Centre for purely electoral reasons.
The real criminal in all this is the ascendancy of the Party over individual members. MPs would do well to remember that they are selected by their local Association to represent constituents and not some central organisation.
Hopefully a hung parliament (not PR) would encourage members to thing about the matters on which they vote rather than simply be sheep for the Whips.

  • 174.
  • At 12:59 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • madeline waterer wrote:

So pleased to see so many people agreeing with comments made by Clare Short. I was beginning to despair that I was the only one agreeing with her especially after seeing all the interviews on tv today - why are members of the public (voters) never asked their views on political programmes so that it is more evenly balanced? All we ever see are the usual blair/brownites spouting their rehearsed rhetoric with not a backbone between them. The sooner the voting system is changed, the better it will be for everybody - it is ridiculous that labour kept power at the last election with only 30% of the vote (mainly north of England).

  • 175.
  • At 01:02 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • PR Advantages? wrote:

If Tony Blair had had the courage to get his cabinet to fulfil his promise to the country that he would bring in proportional representation, he would more than likely not be leaving his present post for a while yet. Reason: p.r. provides coalition government. (Hung parliaments are what you get when the 1st past the post system doesn't provide a clear majority.)

Think .... if Mr Blair had other parties in his government, the Friends of Gordon couldn't kick the PM out right now just because they wanted to. Tony Blair would be the prime minister representing ALL of the electorate and not just Labour. So the coalition partners could refuse to ditch him by out-voting Labour if they were concerned about political destabilisation or the route the country might take when he was gone.

But if you don't like that thought - consider this. Under p.r. the PM could have been prevented from entering Iraq or Afghanistan. He would have had the perfect, honest get-out to Bush - "My coalition partners have outvoted me." I don't suppose Blair would have liked it at the time, but that eventuality might have allowed him to outlast Thatcher,left him a cleaner legacy and changed the present position in Iraq & Afghanistan. You're thinking that wouldn't have happened since the Tories are always up for a fight and support the war(s) anyway. Yes, BUT, the balance of power might have brought different influences to bear on Tories at that time, or even just several delays, giving more thinking time to all. And the timetable set by the partners and changing public opionion over time would have meant that the coalition partners would change sides as time went on for different reasons - e.g. more or fewer troops / delay on sending armaments / withdraw agreement by a certain date.

Meanwhile TB could still do his international statesman thing, which he is SO good at. No, honestly, I am not being facetious. He is very good at representing the UK internationally. I'm neither Labour nor Tory, but I'll miss our PM and his brilliant presentational skills wherever and whenever there's a big international occasion. He stood out from most of the other leaders and personally I think Labour will now only win the next election because Cameron is such a vacuous, under-developed semi-clone of Blair. Brown won't do it for Labour on his own. The swing voter will recall Brown's Brutus-like treachery .... as he stood in the darkened silence, dagger concealed. Also, he's just too un-middle-English, if you get what I mean. Like me, actually, Scottish. (Yes I know TB is also Scottish, but HE doesn't SOUND lke it.)

Clare Short must know you can't campaign for a hung parliament. It just happens because no party has enough seats to secure a majority. So that would mean acting with other parties in a coalition kind of way NOW as elections approach to train the electorate who exactly they need to vote for! As if that wasn't bad enough, you've got to get the Westminster turkeys to vote for Christmas. Much as I'd like it to happen, I don't think so, Clare.

  • 176.
  • At 01:11 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Tudor Pole wrote:

Dear Sirs,

I'm new to this. Can you tell me which author you mean? How do you get your comment posted?

Tudor Pole

  • 177.
  • At 01:23 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • tushar sarkar wrote:

People in Britain have been conditioned to believe through extremely well organised propaganda machine that this country's social and political problems can be solved by mere structural reforms of its parliamentary system.

Britain's age-old democracy originating and developing from the anti-feudal struggle of the middle classes during 1640-60, has been administered through a system which has now become decadent and which does not respond to the requirements of a modern society in an entirely different world.

"The Civil War (of 1640-60) was a class war, in which the despotism of Charles I was defended by the reactionary forces of the established Church and conservative landlords. Parliament beat the King because it could appeal to the enthusiastic support of the trading and industrial classes in town and countryside, to the yeomen and progressive gentry, and to wider masses of the population whenever they were able by free discussion to understand what the struggle was really about." (The English Revolution, by Christopher Hill).

What we need today is a new political movement, which will replace this archaic parliament with something that will be really representative of the different social and political trends and which will be the vehicle to create a type of society for the first time in British history, which will not require colonialism and imperialism to serve the interests of a tiny greedy minority in our society.

It is tragic that even a socially conscious person of Claire Short's standing advocates such a ridiculously shallow and misguided panacea of a hung parliament to solve our basic problems!

  • 178.
  • At 02:15 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Not into electoral reform by the back door - 1st Past the Post damm fined system - warts n all - in the long run.

No real appetite for electoral reform outside certain fringe groups/ indiviudals & minority parties & their vested interests - its not a mass movement demand from the mainstream.

There is a difference between a hung parliament deliberately engineered & one that happens due to genuine voter indecision.

Always liked Clare Short & she has held high position & done here time as back bencher.

But not particularly enamoured of serving/ex politicians undermining the very system they benefited from, for their personal predilections. The system is there to be worked from the inside & influenced from by the outside - rather than a Guy Fawkes attempt to bring parliament down, so you can shape it according to your agenda.

Very weird that given the Labour position & new leadership positions up for grabs, Short does not believe she can positively influence things - but then again perhaps Short feels she has burnt her boats with the Labour party in the last couple of years - why will she get anymore success, even if she could push the 'plunger'.

Perhaps Clare Short is confusing the need for change with revenge :(

vikingar

  • 179.
  • At 02:36 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Brian Booth wrote:

The truth is it should not be necessary to have a hung parliament to bring in electoral reform.
I am of the opinion that both of th main parties should have had electoral reform in their manifestos before the last election if they really cared about democracy
I cannot really understand how the electorate still have faith in this none democratic first past the post system.
Hung parliament or not it will not be with my help. I have not voted for 10 years and I never will vote again until we have a democratic electoral system in England

I wonder why the BBC is characterising Claire Short's position as "advocating a hung parliament" when clearly what she is advocating is electoral reform.

Likewise the Labour party is looking at this through the wrong spectacles: they accuse her of wanting Labour candidates to lose their seats to allow for a hung parliament. I thought we all knew that they were going to lose them to the Tories anyway. Short is clearly advocating an alternative whereby the Tories won't get an absolute majority, and Labour will still have a role to play. For Gott's sake don't expell her: make this woman your leader!

  • 181.
  • At 05:02 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Miles Stewart wrote:

Is there anyone left who really believes that such a grossly disproportionate electoral system is something to cherish ?
The real problem is that the government so totally dominates the Commons. It is ironic that the unelected Lords are more (politically) representative and a vastly superior check on the Bushesque excesses this administration has sought to foist on us.

  • 182.
  • At 07:07 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • jai wrote:

Good

  • 183.
  • At 09:21 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • David Holman wrote:

The majority of the posts here seem to favour PR (as I do), but quite a few defend the existing plurality system without saying why. To me it is self-evident that, if nothing else, PR would persuade more people to vote so that we didn't have an elective dictatorship based on one divided party gaining the votes of less than 25% of the electorate. Have I missed something?

Can somebody please explain what benefits plurality voting actually brings?

Can anybody explain why we should not at least have MAJORITY voting like the French?

One of the early comments argues for a separation of the executive and the legislature, which certainly served the USA pretty well up to 2000. Would this not liberate MPs from the whips?

  • 184.
  • At 09:22 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Hardip_D wrote:

How can you campaign for a hung parliment? Makes no sense, we vote for our own MP.

I think Claire Short shows a whiff of 'sour grapes' with her comments. Having said that I have increasingly felt that left and right politics is a bit meaningless in terms of the key issues facing this country. And having lived in a country where PR is used (Ireland), I quite liked what it did for politics in that a wider range of political parties could flourish and so offer the electorate a real choice.

We need a political movement to campaign for PR, but they won't be Labour or Conservative who fear the unknown.

  • 185.
  • At 09:30 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • peter macnab wrote:


Electoral reform is always the cry from parties that cannt get the electorate to vote for them. Claire Short has fallen for the fallacy that party alliances are somehow a good thing - remember the Lib-Lab pact; the SDP- Lib alliance? The next government will be Tory unless labour grasps the nettle and gets Tony Blair out asap.

  • 186.
  • At 10:23 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Jennifer Watts wrote:

Hi Newsnight,
No, I do not think a hung parliament would not be the answer. It would attract so many arguments from different parties, that nothing would be resolved, in the long run. Coalition Parliaments, in both WW were accepted because it was needed, but did it necessarily work properly? Not Lloyd George & Winston Church,who were basically in charge and nobody really argued against them. Some-one should have against LG,who nearly lost the war by keeping troops from the front,in the last Spring Offensive by the Germans, which was very nearly successful, and caused a debacle for the 5th Army, who were understaffed over a very long period of the line,which they were obliged to hold. A hung parliament,when we have all these problems in the M.E. would just not work. One party in power,with enough votes to be credible, and one 'strong' opposition
to counteract. In this way we might have a resolution,not always to be tied to the apron strings of America, as Carter mentioned in last night's programme. He seemed quite amazed by why we always trotted behind the Americans - an interesting point to consider for another Newsnight programme! Jennifer

  • 187.
  • At 10:40 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Tania wrote:

Claire Short's touting of a hung Parliament is typical of her demonstrated inability to put her principles above power - how does keeping New Labour in any form of government demonstrate public disillusionment with the war and the peerages for cash scandal. More generally it is a depressing proposition that a coalition government - normally associated with legislative stalemate and disproprtionate power to minority interests - is being portrayed as reinvigorating ... in fact it would demonstrate how close all the parties are happy to become and reinforces the politics of personality as MPs who care little for principle endeavour to nestle in the corridors of compromise. As for preempting a proportional representation voting system - it would be more likely to demonstrate the worst case scenario of PR - the very scenario supporters of the current voting system evoke to maintain the status quo.

  • 188.
  • At 10:55 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • mike wrote:

Yes, a possible outcome of a 'hung parliament'at the next general election could be a positive step forward. Anything would be better than another tory government
paralysed with spin and news management etc. Surely it would be better to look forward to a refreshing genuine debate over re-distribution of wealth and re-nationalisation of all public services. The current foreign and environmental policies of the government are not sustainable either, and simply a change of leadership will not win more votes etc.

  • 189.
  • At 11:35 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Ashraf wrote:

I too 'weep for our errors in Iraq' but a hung parliament will not achieve anything, it will make it much much worse.

I did admire Claire and her staunch stance in the Labour movement, unfortunately not any more as I believe outbursts like this can only be damaging for the party and the country as a whole...

Clare Short has once more acted as a gadfly. The question is, however, more complex than it used to be. At the beginning of the 1990s, when the two main parties seemed so far apart, it – and proportional representation – seemed the best way to avoid extreme solutions.

Now all the parties are fighting for the centre ground, and to look more like the others than they do! Extremism is no longer on the agenda; though what David Cameron’s party would do if they gained power and had to deliver their platitudes may worry some; including me. Instead, the argument seems to be about who might be the best managers – best at delivering the goals that we all want.

So what might be gained from a ‘government of national unity’?
Effective management is something few in industry have managed to achieve. I doubt that few politicians, with so much baggage to carry, would perform any better.

There is, I suspect, just one dimension which might benefit – over the longer term - from a dose of shared management. That is governing for the longer term – with a 20 year horizon – rather than being blown around by the current political winds – with a 20 week horizon if we are lucky. Despite all his faults, Tony Blair has been an effective strategic planner; maintaining consistent directions of policy for a decade – where previous governments (apart from Margaret Thatcher) have failed to do this.

Would, say, a shared government (or a Gordon Brown led one) manage to maintain long term strategies, and avoid the temptation to raid long-term infra-structural investment for short term advantage (as, despite her other long terms impact, Margaret Thatcher did)?

  • 191.
  • At 01:49 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Claire Short mentioned my two pennies worth in #178

1. CALLS for CHANGE

There seems to be a lot of posters unhappy with Iraq war who presume to know the mood of the mainstream electorate & use this thread to yet again communicate 'a message':

- Linking voter apathy with the Iraq war
- Linking need for reform with the Iraq war.

Yes, sure the distinct minority ranks of those who protested pre invasion has been joined by others, but a disproportionate vocalising of opinion amongst minority political/community groups does not automatically mean the majority of the public are against the war - no mass rallies - no burgeoning peace movement etc spilling over onto the streets, mostly usual suspects with some additional new members.

By what measure do they gauge this opinion & then presume to know what response the electorate want (e.g. in order to change an aspect of government policy, unpick the whole system).

A hung parliament engineered to address one issues (the war) seems to be one of oh so many issues certain pressure/fringe/minority political groups wish to address, but for which the existing political system (first past the post) & parliamentary system, does not enable them & their minority agenda (PR, republicanism, europe etc).

The liberal left / left have a whole range of issues with New Labour. But since vast majority of those people are presumably already in Labour, suggest they focus their issues on electing people into their party to change their policies, which they can present to the electorate - rather than attempting a GUY FAWKES-esque assault on our electoral & parliamentary system.

2. WHAT CHANGE

However, as a 'liberal conservative' myself, not against addressing the more questionable parts of New Labours reign:

No 10 (New Labour) centralised power & wrestled away level accountability / scrutiny from parliament & the cabinet, but imagine they were pursuing policies the Left/ Liberal Left agreed with, would these groups be clamouring for change?

Q.1 do we need to wrestle away the centralised notion of power away from No 10, in the way that New Labour has enabled?

Q.2 how will it be achieved, by what means?

- change of attitude by main players
- general voluntary agreement between main parties
- 'revolutionary' form of change.

Even with PR you could still end up with same centralisation of power & decision making.

3. SUMMARY

The relationship between those elected into office, those who makes the decision & how such are scrutinised & made accountable by the system, should not disable those elected from delivering the manifesto they were elected on.

When groups cannot claim legitimate power (via ballot box) it must be very tempting for them to maje use of an engineered 'Hung Parliament' which is nothing more than a blatant TROJAN HORSE for other agendas.

We know it, they know it - but does the electorate?

vikingar

  • 192.
  • At 02:12 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • David Batson wrote:

I think that we would be far better off without the labour party all together,yes they have made a few improvements but if they had kept out of Bushes pocket we could be a lot better off. the Biggest threat to world peace in my opinion is President Bush & Tony Blair D. Batson Camberley.

  • 193.
  • At 03:39 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • John Keeman wrote:

Absolutely, we should hang all of them.....the sooner the better.

  • 194.
  • At 03:52 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • David Mitchell wrote:

A hung parliament sounds good but it is an inconclusive mess resulting in elections every five minutes or so.
Our system is far from perfect and we need to change it. But I do not think this is the way. I think we need a totally neutral Royal Commission enquiry to examine all the options and make a general recommendation to the British public. But before we do that we need to decide if we are going to remain a united country - or will Scotland, Wales, and N.Ireland wish to be independent ? That question should be solved first.
David Mitchell

  • 195.
  • At 04:35 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Gary Smith wrote:

Anything, which makes politicians (especially government) less complacent would make me feel less disaffected.

  • 196.
  • At 11:37 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Amy wrote:

The Labour Party appears to be full of poacher's turned gamekeeper's, socialist in there youth, right wing facist in there time of power.
They are all arrogant selfserving and bully's.
I have worked for the N.H.S. for over thirty years and will face unemployment in April 2007.
This country is on its knees and if there was a national vote of confidence in the Labour Party Goverment they might not be so selfassured that they will win the next election.
Claire Short may be outspoken but at least she is honest and is not screwing the country which most of her collegues are. I doubt very much that what she says will have impact on who voters vote for, indeed the only peope who will lose the Labour Pary Goverment the next election is the Labour Party.(and the sooner the better)
The NHS and the country was safer in Tory hands, and that comes from a lifelong now x Labour Party voter and supporter.

  • 197.
  • At 11:52 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • nigel perry wrote:

For UK-style democracy a hung parliament certainly is better than a big majority, because in our system a big majority leads to something approaching dictatorship. Hence Margaret Thatcher starting to believe that she was the Queen; Tony Blair beginning to believe that he is the President. It is not good for an MP to be more concerned about party officials than about voters. We need to remove the financial power of political parties and to make all Parliamentary decisions by a free vote.

  • 198.
  • At 05:55 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • margaret/philippines wrote:

I did wonder about Clare Short's recent article in Tablet.ref Gold mines in Phils and local RC Bishops reaction to same...now this...well hell ...fury and scorned come to mind.
Sell by dates come to all .Perhaps she should be reminded that hers is past.

  • 199.
  • At 01:47 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • mike Fenwick wrote:

If we have a 'Hung Parliament', presumeably the price of Lib Dem co-operation with either party, will be the introduction of PR to accurately reflect the relative strength of the Parties in the Country. This demand may well bring out the total cynicism of the two major parties, because they could well form an alliance specifically designed to aviod the introduction of PR which they regard as not being in their best interest.

As the present government has been tinkering with the constitution with regard the Lords, would a hung parliament be the time to introduce a writen constitution? A constitution that has fixed terms for parliament, a democratically elected upper house and an elected Head of State.

  • 200.
  • At 01:31 PM on 18 Sep 2006,
  • George Carr wrote:

I really disagree with Clare Short.
Let's get back to Government which is focused with conviction and less spin.
We haven't seen high turn out since 1992 when the choice was very clear what you were voting for.
We members of the public will be interested in politics again when we get government which is clear in what it wants to do. Not by changing the system to get more fudge and behind doors wheeling and dealing with a hung parliment or PR.

Please see http://www.barder.com/ephems/572
and
http://www.barder.com/ephems/575

including the comments on each.

  • 202.
  • At 06:47 PM on 19 Sep 2006,
  • jon wrote:

Is Clare Short resigning again?!

Is this a record?

  • 203.
  • At 08:09 AM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Barbara Lockwood wrote:

Clare Short- is honesty in one.

Lets go for it and have a Hung Parliament with Clare heading it.
It would be a damn sight better than what we have been putting up with for nine years.---Barbara Norwich

  • 204.
  • At 12:04 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Rob from the Wirral wrote:

Clair Short has crosed the line and allowed her personal desires to cloud her political judgement.

Although she may yearn for a well hung parliament, she should keep it to herself.

  • 205.
  • At 09:50 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

A hung parliament is not a panacea. Ministers retain enormous executive power through the royal prerogative and a minority government that did not want to pass controversial legislation could survive for quite a time without conceding much in the way of radical reform. PR would simply create a formula for permanent hung parliaments, and create a subsequent demand for separation of powers and a directly elected executive like the US.
What I would like to see is a fair voting system - come back Jenkins, all is forgiven. I like the idea of having county MPs of the minority parties in areas where the constituency MPs are all of one party, whether it be Labour in Surrey or Tories in Scotland. It is very undemocratic when all of the parties focus their resources and attention on the 20% of undecided voters in 15% of marginal constituencies and basically take the other 97% of the electors for granted. If people feel that full blown PR is worth a try, lets try it out first in local councils before unleashing unintended consequences on the distribution of power at national level.

  • 206.
  • At 01:30 AM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • There is an elephant pyramid in the room wrote:

Ask yourselves THESE questions...

Does my vote make any difference thesedays ?

Do i have any reason to suspect that any leadership, no matter how hung or not it might be, is just a bought and paid for puppet for big business interests, and policies that have nothing to do with our wishes ?

If allied to any political organisation, can I still believe in that organisation ?...Burn me once and see me NEVER again trust you with fire

Do i wait 'till the day i die to realise that politics has lost its soul ?


Hung parliament ?...SO WHAT

The coup isn't on the other side of the world people, wake up and smell the corruption

It's a one party system, you know it is in your heart, from the news to the government, it's all paid for, and not, as we think, by us

First thing we all need to do is recongise that, then we can think what the next step is

  • 207.
  • At 03:48 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Tarlach wrote:

I am totally in favour of proportional representation and totally opposed to replacing Labour with a Tory government of any hue. Clare Short is so eaten up with her hatred of Tony Blair that she seemed to have gone temporarily blind. I live in south London and have seen derelict council estates transformed since Labour came to power. My local hospital is first class and brand new and there are a number of new primary schools very near my home. This is something to be proud of. Labour should start reminding people of this.

  • 208.
  • At 04:49 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Gordon McDougall wrote:

For almost 30 years we have had governments with too sizeable majorities which have wilfully ignored public opinion. These governments have been elected on their economic policies because the only thing most voters care about is the £ in their pocket. We don't have the checks and balances of the American constitution, nor an electoral system that reflects the votes cast, so we are in the thrall of an effective dictatorship. If we want to move closer to a fairer society - a society where the government isn't elected by a tiny proportion of the elctorate in marginal seats - we need PR and that means we need the major parties to be forced to entertain PR as a better alternative to the present system. A hung parliament may be a step towards this. My hunch is that PR would eliminate the need for protest parties such as UKIP and BNP.

  • 209.
  • At 02:14 AM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • June Gibson wrote:

We haven't done too well being governed by a major political Party (bearing in mind the actual low share of votes cast) so let's try something different, i.e. a coalition. It might be appropriate, too, given that we are at war in all but formal declaration. Could a coalition be worse than the recent ping pong of either a Labour or a Conservative Government? Clare Short knows that it is impossible to work from within for a change in the Party policies. My own MP has been "carpeted" for voting against this Government several times; that has shut him up. Maybe voters'views woud be taken into account more and the MPs would have to earn their money.

  • 210.
  • At 12:47 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • David Austin wrote:

If the next election were to result in a hung parliament it would be fantastic for British politics. Under our current 'first past the post' election system a hung parliament is the closest to PR we can get.

A hung parliament would also give far more power to the opposition. Let's say Gordon Brown's Labour Party wish to pass some fairly controversial legislation, which is key to their election pledges, they may have to rely on Lib Dem MPs' votes, which in turn gives the Lib Dem's bargaining power that they can use to push forward key issues such as the introduction of Proportional Representation. Only then would we see a true regeneration of British politics.

  • 211.
  • At 02:18 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Glenn Oliver wrote:

The fact that we have to depend upon the vagaries of the electoral system to produce a hung parliament is in itself a condemnation of that electoral system.

The Labour and Tory parties are themselves coalitions, containing members with widely varying, or outrightly opposed, political views.

The country as a whole is such a coalition of many disparate views.

A coalition government via a hung parliament would begin to reflect political reality as it actually is in 21st Century Britain.

A coalition government elected by Proportional Representation would fully reflect that reality.

  • 212.
  • At 10:56 AM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Jay wrote:

I have to admit the idea of a hung parliament does appeal to me on some level, But i don't think it would actually work. With two political parties who are directly opposed to each other on many issues, what i fear would actually happen is that they would end up doing absolutely nothing for the first three years and at the first hint of a collective date being made for an election they would end up trying to score points against one another. And we effectively would end up with no-one running the country.
Besides, who would end up in ten downing street? What effect would it have on Foreign policy? For me there would be just too many answers that would need to be answered, and no-one to be held for account if something goes wrong. Just endless political posturing, and attempts to say that one party or the other actually came up with policy.
As for the idea of adopting a political system along the lines of the U.S. and the maximum two terms rule.Sometimes policies that are good for a country take longer to have an effect, and if Blair was kicked out at the last election we could have had Michael Howard as Prime Minister, god save our souls.

  • 213.
  • At 03:09 PM on 20 Oct 2006,
  • Barry Taylor wrote:

Tony Blair lied about electoral reform - (like so many things)
Claire Short is right - the time has come for this issue to be addressed.

  • 214.
  • At 02:56 AM on 11 Nov 2006,
  • Peter Davidson wrote:

All I can say to Howard, 14th Sept is that you seem to have very little imagination.

No doubt your interpretation of “lowest common denominator” is negative but what a Parliament with no overall majority does produce is consensus style politics.

I don’t know about the rest of the readers but I am absolutely fed up with adversarial style head banging at PMQ’s and other opportunities for short term political points scoring.

I want an elected government that reflects the votes cast (in some semblance of proportion) and I think people who bother to turnout are also entitled to expect their vote to actually count in the whole process, which relatively few do with the current system.

What you mean really mean by “leadership” is just another form of naked political power plays – thanks for voting me in but I’m in charge now and don’t you forget it.

Let’s just consider where persevering with FPTP has landed us:

• Plummeting turnouts
• Falling voter registration
• Decreasing shares of the overall vote still delivering working majorities
• Executive dominated legislatures railroading swathes of government managed bills through the house, encouraged by an insidious carrot and stick combination of whipping and patronage.
• Vastly increased numbers of electors having to vote tactically, rather than with their conscience in order to try and make their vote count.
• The death of distinctive ideologies as parties chase a shrinking audience – floating voters in swing marginals
• Increased targeting of this tiny number of individuals by the main parties, at the expense of listening to core voters concerns. This plays directly into the hands of the extremist parties so it is FPTP that actually advances the cause of extremist parties. Can you explain to me why one vote is worth more than another depending on where it is cast?

I could go on and on

It is time to end the democratic post code lottery represented by FPTP. An election result delivering no overall control may well bring that prospect closer and I am all for it.

Peter Davidson
Alderley Edge
NW England

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