Should Britain be a multi-party democracy? Watch

Arran90
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It's difficult to deny that some European countries are multi-party democracies. The governments and the majority of their citizens accept that this is the case. There are several political parties representing a diverse variety of viewpoints. It's not too difficult to start new parties and in some cases recently established parties have managed to win large numbers of votes and make significant inroads into the political system. They have proportional representation which means that elected representatives generally mirrors popular support and there is less requirement for tactical or negative voting as is the case under FPTP. The media is often more open and friendly towards smaller or recently established parties than the British media is.

In contrast, the US is a totally gridlocked two party system despite the country being more demographically diverse than many European countries are. The ideological difference between the Democrat and Republican parties is much less than that between Labour and the Conservatives in 1950s Britain - the closest we got to a two party state since 1918. Other parties are very small and insignificant in comparison to the Democrat and Republican parties. It could be argued that American politics is not based on ideology or parties representing different viewpoints of the people but on the concept of one party to govern and one party to keep check.

Britain is a halfway house between the two. Between the late 1940s and the late 1990s it was very much a two party system plus the Liberals / Lib-Dems as a protest vote or to represent alternative thought but there were strong ideological differences between Labour and the Conservatives. Since 1997 Britain has moved towards a multi-party democracy with a rise in support and representation for the Green Party, UKIP, and the BNP in England and the SNP in Scotland. There have also been localised alternatives to Lib-Lab-Con such as the Kidderminster Health Concern and Respect Parties.

However, there is a danger than England could become a one-party state in the near future and Scotland a fight between the SNP and the Conservatives.

Should the future of Britain be a multi-party democracy or not?
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ByEeek
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Its a tough call. When you say multi-party democracy what you actually mean is proportional representation. We have a multi-party democracy - as opposed to dictatorships.

The problem with PR though is that insignificant parties can end up with more influence than their weight. You also end up in a situation where change is hard to bring through because of the negotiation process. That said, successive governments in the UK have imposed their changes on us, usually with disastrous results. How many times has the NHS been reorganised in the last 20 years? So perhaps a government that can't push through big change is a good thing?
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Arran90
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I'm led to believe that the majority of Americans are in favour of their Constitutional Republic and are opposed to a European style multi-party democracy in a similar way that they are opposed to measuring temperature in celsius or using dollar coins. It's just their culture.

Are the British also averse to a multi-party democracy? Until Nigel Farage took over UKIP there was definitely a Lib-Lab-Con three card trick in the public realm. Even the Greens are not treated by the media as a main party today.
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RF_PineMarten
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(Original post by ByEeek)
The problem with PR though is that insignificant parties can end up with more influence than their weight.
I wouldn't say that at all; they still have to get a decent share of the votes to get influence. PR doesn't give small parties a load of seats simply for existing.
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ByEeek
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(Original post by RF_PineMarten)
I wouldn't say that at all; they still have to get a decent share of the votes to get influence. PR doesn't give small parties a load of seats simply for existing.
Indeed. But in a PR system, you tend not to have majority governments. As a result, the smaller parties end up as king makers. Their vote can make or break legislation and often they will demand their own legislation to go through in return for support of the main party.

Take the Lib Dems. They had way more power in setting the government agenda than the number of people who voted for them.
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Rakas21
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The UK for the prior two centuries has always been a 2.5 party state with a general 45-35-20 split. At some points this relaxes to allow 3 party politics (the 1910-1924 period, the 2001-2017 period) while at others it tightens to two parties (1950-1970). Every now and then you get a situation where one party is so dominant that they threaten a majority of the vote (1931, 1955 and 2015 Scotland).

As Scotland is looking to illustrate nicely, FPTP finds it very hard to accommodate a vacuum and as such unless you are truly divided (NI) it will fairly quickly try to force 2 party politics back upon you.
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Arran90
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Between the 1950s and around 1990 Scotland roughly mirrored England in that politics was between Labour and the Conservatives with the Lib-Dems having strength in the Highlands but weak elsewhere and the SNP taking the Braveheart vote.

After 1990 support for the Conservatives had dwindled to the point where they now only had pockets of strength here and there and were no longer the broad opposition to Labour that they once were, especially in urban areas and the Central Belt.

In the early 2000s Scottish politics was becoming very localised with a higher proportion of strong seats and fewer marginals than in England.

In 2015 Labour and the Lib-Dems collapsed as the SNP took all but three constituencies.

Since 2015 support for the Conservatives has undergone a revival and now politics is re-aligning towards the SNP vs the Conservatives. It appears that Scottish Conservative supporters have a different mindset to English Conservative supporters in that the Union is their core issue. It's probably a similar mindset to Ulstermen who vote Ulster Unionist or DUP even though their background and demographics are similar to a Labour voter in England rather than a true blue Tory.
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1420787
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(Original post by Arran90)
Between the 1950s and around 1990 Scotland roughly mirrored England in that politics was between Labour and the Conservatives with the Lib-Dems having strength in the Highlands but weak elsewhere and the SNP taking the Braveheart vote.

After 1990 support for the Conservatives had dwindled to the point where they now only had pockets of strength here and there and were no longer the broad opposition to Labour that they once were, especially in urban areas and the Central Belt.

In the early 2000s Scottish politics was becoming very localised with a higher proportion of strong seats and fewer marginals than in England.

In 2015 Labour and the Lib-Dems collapsed as the SNP took all but three constituencies.

Since 2015 support for the Conservatives has undergone a revival and now politics is re-aligning towards the SNP vs the Conservatives. It appears that Scottish Conservative supporters have a different mindset to English Conservative supporters in that the Union is their core issue. It's probably a similar mindset to Ulstermen who vote Ulster Unionist or DUP even though their background and demographics are similar to a Labour voter in England rather than a true blue Tory.
Whilst the swing in council elections is hard to ignore, at the moment Scotland is still SNP clearly the larger party and Conservatives/Labour roughly even.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Arran90)
Between the 1950s and around 1990 Scotland roughly mirrored England in that politics was between Labour and the Conservatives with the Lib-Dems having strength in the Highlands but weak elsewhere and the SNP taking the Braveheart vote.

After 1990 support for the Conservatives had dwindled to the point where they now only had pockets of strength here and there and were no longer the broad opposition to Labour that they once were, especially in urban areas and the Central Belt.

In the early 2000s Scottish politics was becoming very localised with a higher proportion of strong seats and fewer marginals than in England.

In 2015 Labour and the Lib-Dems collapsed as the SNP took all but three constituencies.

Since 2015 support for the Conservatives has undergone a revival and now politics is re-aligning towards the SNP vs the Conservatives. It appears that Scottish Conservative supporters have a different mindset to English Conservative supporters in that the Union is their core issue. It's probably a similar mindset to Ulstermen who vote Ulster Unionist or DUP even though their background and demographics are similar to a Labour voter in England rather than a true blue Tory.
But there have been two major changes with the SNP and Labour that you have not mentioned.

Labour called the SNP Tartan Tories. Historically there was a strong trend of right wing opinion in Scottish nationalism (it even dabbled with fascism in the 1930s and 40s). That has been totally eclipsed under Sturgeon. The SNP is a clear left of centre party.

Labour is no longer seen as a resolutely Unionist party.

Labour has therefore bled votes both to the SNP and the Conservatives and the SNP is not a suitable home for those of centre-right opinions who could take or leave independence.
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Arran90
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
Labour called the SNP Tartan Tories.
Labour calls the Lib-Dems Tories in sandals and the Green Party Tories on bikes...

Historically there was a strong trend of right wing opinion in Scottish nationalism (it even dabbled with fascism in the 1930s and 40s). That has been totally eclipsed under Sturgeon. The SNP is a clear left of centre party.
That is true but take into account that the Nationalist right is completely different from the capitalist right. The BNP was commonly assumed to be far right but it was actually nationalist right with economic policies inspired by Old Labour. This explains why it attracted people who had traditionally voted Labour and from the C2 and D socioeconomic groups whereas UKIP with Conservative economic policies struggled to attract such people and instead most appealed to people who traditionally voted Conservative from the A to C1 socioeconomic groups.

The SNP is technically a social democrat party with a civic Nationalist flavour.

Labour is no longer seen as a resolutely Unionist party.
Ambiguous on the Union and ambiguous on the EU.

Labour has therefore bled votes both to the SNP and the Conservatives and the SNP is not a suitable home for those of centre-right opinions who could take or leave independence.
SNP is independent Scotland remaining in the EU.

Conservative is the Union and leave the EU.

Lib-Dems are the Union and remaining in the EU.

Nothing seems to represent an independent Scotland and leave the EU.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Arran90)
Labour calls the Lib-Dems Tories in sandals and the Green Party Tories on bikes...



That is true but take into account that the Nationalist right is completely different from the capitalist right. The BNP was commonly assumed to be far right but it was actually nationalist right with economic policies inspired by Old Labour. This explains why it attracted people who had traditionally voted Labour and from the C2 and D socioeconomic groups whereas UKIP with Conservative economic policies struggled to attract such people and instead most appealed to people who traditionally voted Conservative from the A to C1 socioeconomic groups.

The SNP is technically a social democrat party with a civic Nationalist flavour.



Ambiguous on the Union and ambiguous on the EU.



SNP is independent Scotland remaining in the EU.

Conservative is the Union and leave the EU.

Lib-Dems are the Union and remaining in the EU.

Nothing seems to represent an independent Scotland and leave the EU.
In the days before the collapse of Labour support in Scotland, SNP support didn't rise out of Loch Ness and Tory voters didn't just disappear into the gloaming. A lot of Presbyterian Tories who resented Margaret Thatcher's approach to Scotland switched to the SNP. They felt their party had broken the covenant of the Union.
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RJDG14
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From an idealistic point of view, proportional representation might work, however there are flaws into such as system. First of all, several dozen seats would likely be for single-issue parties, namely UKIP, and some of these MPs wouldn't do the job they're supposed to do I suspect. The other problem is how each MP would be allocated to each area - there may be infighting in certain parts of the country where a majority of people in a constituency vote Labour and get a Conservative candidate, or vice-versa. The SNP might also be allocated seats in the North of England if a high enough proportion of all British people voted for them. This could be resolved though by analysing the four British states seperately.

I'd say I'm neutral on having such a system.

@Arran90, The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have similarities economically but socially they're at polar ends of the scale. As for a party that is both pro-Scottish independence and pro-Brexit (or Scotxit), what about the Scottish Socialist Party?
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missedhit
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(Original post by Arran90)
It's difficult to deny that some European countries are multi-party democracies. The governments and the majority of their citizens accept that this is the case. There are several political parties representing a diverse variety of viewpoints. It's not too difficult to start new parties and in some cases recently established parties have managed to win large numbers of votes and make significant inroads into the political system. They have proportional representation which means that elected representatives generally mirrors popular support and there is less requirement for tactical or negative voting as is the case under FPTP. The media is often more open and friendly towards smaller or recently established parties than the British media is.

In contrast, the US is a totally gridlocked two party system despite the country being more demographically diverse than many European countries are. The ideological difference between the Democrat and Republican parties is much less than that between Labour and the Conservatives in 1950s Britain - the closest we got to a two party state since 1918. Other parties are very small and insignificant in comparison to the Democrat and Republican parties. It could be argued that American politics is not based on ideology or parties representing different viewpoints of the people but on the concept of one party to govern and one party to keep check.

Britain is a halfway house between the two. Between the late 1940s and the late 1990s it was very much a two party system plus the Liberals / Lib-Dems as a protest vote or to represent alternative thought but there were strong ideological differences between Labour and the Conservatives. Since 1997 Britain has moved towards a multi-party democracy with a rise in support and representation for the Green Party, UKIP, and the BNP in England and the SNP in Scotland. There have also been localised alternatives to Lib-Lab-Con such as the Kidderminster Health Concern and Respect Parties.

However, there is a danger than England could become a one-party state in the near future and Scotland a fight between the SNP and the Conservatives.

Should the future of Britain be a multi-party democracy or not?
The answer is simply yes. Why? Because we, technically, have a representative House of Commons, the representatives should vote in accordance with the view of the people and the vast majority of our country wish for PR. Arguably, PR would disadvantage some parties at the moment, for example Labour, and favour others, for example Lib Dems.

Although a one-party country can be a dangerous situation to find yourself in, as we see is the case in many countries around the world, it shouldn't be a primary concern and motivation for pushing for PR.

PR is incredibly effective in reducing the risk of adversely radical policies and equally effective in making everyone happy, as far as that's possible. It has been seen across the Old Continent. Why? Because, often, coalitions of two or three parties must be formed to push certain agendas forward, watering down extreme viewpoints and balancing policies so that not only the Tory-voting population is satisfied or the Labour-voting population is satisfied. Furthermore, certain organisations, such as the NHS, would not be subject to disrupting changes as it has been every time the Tories replaced Labour and Labour replaced the Tories.
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Arran90
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(Original post by missedhit)
Furthermore, certain organisations, such as the NHS, would not be subject to disrupting changes as it has been every time the Tories replaced Labour and Labour replaced the Tories.
That's a noteworthy point. Since 1945 FPTP has created cycles in Britain. Union bosses vs corporate bosses and nationalisation vs privatisation depending on whether there is a strong Labour government or a strong Conservative government. This only broke down after 1997 with the formation of the political dead centre. If British politics is dominated by two parties with very different ideologies and policies then cycles could return in the future.
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missedhit
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(Original post by Arran90)
That's a noteworthy point. Since 1945 FPTP has created cycles in Britain. Union bosses vs corporate bosses and nationalisation vs privatisation depending on whether there is a strong Labour government or a strong Conservative government. This only broke down after 1997 with the formation of the political dead centre. If British politics is dominated by two parties with very different ideologies and policies then cycles could return in the future.
The real issue with the FPTP system is that many speak about changing it but once they get into power, they won't push for PR. This has been the case with the American President. He kept saying how the system is ''rigged'' until he won. The winning leader and their party believe that if they won under the current system, they should keep it to remain in power for as long as possible and that is more likely under the FPTP. Self-interest has been tramping over the greater good for a long long time across the world.
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Arran90
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(Original post by missedhit)
The real issue with the FPTP system is that many speak about changing it but once they get into power, they won't push for PR. This has been the case with the American President. He kept saying how the system is ''rigged'' until he won. The winning leader and their party believe that if they won under the current system, they should keep it to remain in power for as long as possible and that is more likely under the FPTP. Self-interest has been tramping over the greater good for a long long time across the world.
The American President is elected using electoral college which is completely different from FPTP. It is not relevant to British politics.
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missedhit
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(Original post by Arran90)
The American President is elected using electoral college which is completely different from FPTP. It is not relevant to British politics.
Perhaps I didn't write my response clear enough. It is extremely relevant to British politics because we are slowly moving towards a two-party system as Lib Dems continue to choose wrong causes, Greens force their lost cause agenda and UKIP achieve the Brexit outcome they're after.

The system is different, the reality is the same. You end up choosing the least of two evils.
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