LETTER: No substitute for our system

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We have just heard that Germany, with its complicated form of proportional representation, has at last managed after four months to cobble together a ruling coalition that few of its politicians or electorate are happy with.

Frau Merkel’s CDU has had to go cap in hand to Martin Schulz’s SPD to give some semblence of a workable parliament.

Moreover, to obtain this settlement, Herr Schulz has demanded the job of foreign minister.

Schulz is an arch-federalist and has called for a fully functioning United States of Europe as early as 2025, with of course, Germany calling the shots.

So, with the SPD winning just 153 of the Reichstag’s 709 seats, representing just over 20 per cent of German voters, the future course both of Germany and the EU is set to change irrecovably.

So much for an EU that was designed to lay to rest the bogeyman of German hegemony.

We in the UK can at least take comfort from the fact that we shall not be part of it.

But that is a different story.

The real point that those PR advocates such as Mr Tuffin seem unable to grasp is that after all the inevitable horse trading, there is nothing more representational , nor indeed proportional, about any system that might replace first past the post in UK elections.

Supporters of PR had their chance in 2011 when the alternative vote was put to a referendum.

AV might not have been their preferred option but it went some way towards thei ultimate goal.

Even this modest proposal was trounced by a sizeable majority content with the status quo.

It is cynical to suggest that in certain parts of the UK the electorate is disenfranchised by virtue of local conditions and the suggestion that voters in non-marginal constituencies need not turn out is to be deplored.

It is the performance of the parties in Parliament that creates marginals.

These were quite different in 1997 after the Major years from what they were in 2011 after rule by Blair and Brown, as they will be again in 2022 or earlier.

The first past the post system gives us locally accountable representatives who stand or fall according to their performance. There is no substitute for that.