25 May 2009

Tom Harris MP: Patronising Buffoon

Tom Harris on PR:

All sorts of claims are made by the supporters of proportional representation, along the lines of “it would push up voter turnout” and “it would increase representation among ethnic minorities”.

Not the experience of PR when it’s been tried in the UK already. Take the Scottish Parliament, elected on an “additional member” or “assisted places scheme” system. Turnout at both UK general elections held since devolution in 1999 have seen significantly higher turnours than those for the three Holyrood elections, with up to ten per cent higher voter participation in some constituencies. And in all three Holyrood elections, only one non-white candidate has ever been elected.

Similarly in elections to the European Parliament: turnout has been derisory. The more complicated you make it to vote, the fewer people will do so.

Complicated? For European Elections, you have to put an X in a box, just as you do for Westminster. What's complicated about that?

For Holyrood Elections, you have to put two X's in two boxes, one in each column (and before that, one on each paper). With the exception of the last election, where the goalposts were moved and the one-in-each-column aspect wasn't clearly spelt out on the day, how is that so complicated that it stops people heading to the polls? And even then, when voters had to deal with an unfamiliar ballot paper and two different voting systems, more people actually showed up in 2007 than 2003, when they merely had to contend with three sheets of paper, all of which they wrote an X on, just like they'd done in every election they'd ever voted in.

For Council Elections, you rank candidates in order of preference. Unless you dropped out of Primary School, what's hard about 1, 2, 3?

No. Voting isn't complicated. Voting is never complicated, and PR doesn't make the actual act of casting a vote complicated as it involves doing broadly the same things that you would do in a First Past the Post election. But since something different happens to the votes either while they're being counted or afterwards, Tom Harris has decided that you, the voter, must be too thick to understand it and so won't bother to vote. I'm sorry, Tom, there are lots of reasons for apathy but not being able to place an X in a box isn't one of them.

And if we want to talk about incomprehensible systems, how about we question the simplicity of a system where 36% of the vote translates into a Parliamentary majority?


Silent Hunter said...

Well it would appear so from his woefully simplistic assessment of PR.

ASwaS said...

And local council elections fought by first past the post have even lower turnouts than the Scottish Parliament. He doesn't compare like with like. He also hangs himself with his use of turnout as a measure. On that basis his beloved Westminster does not compare well with the other non-FPTP first order - ie sovereign national government - elections across Europe.

Tom Harris' blog these days displays all the thoughtful incisiveness of a Lib Dem Focus leaflet.

CrazyDaisy said...


Have to concur with you, he is an outspoken tw@t of the first order and thinks his rantings on some random blog are newsworthy or anyone takes notice of him other than to highlight his gross inability to carry out his responsibilities as an MP other than to suck butt.

Crazy D

subrosa said...

I don't read Tom Harris' blog these days because he's so wrapped within the Westminster bubble and his own self-importance, anything he says I find is condescending.

Perhaps it's just my age ...

James said...

You don't like his combination of bullying, naked self-interest and tabloid sucking-up? I can't imagine why not.

Ted Harvey said...

I gave up on the blog of this failed junior Minister a long time ago and I have been advised that recently he took to pre-warning would-be 'smug right wingers' that he would censor their postings on his blog. In thsi case it was seemingly in defence (unbelievably) of ousted pal Michael Martin.

He's just a typical old style, intellectual lite, Scottish Labour Westminster MP who thinks you can carry the same old blustering ways onto the blogsphere.