Delusions Of No Thanks #1: We Can Change The System From Within | Autonomy Scotland

Delusions Of No Thanks #1: We Can Change The System From Within

It is apparent that most No and Yes Voters want the same things. A more prosperous, more democratic, more equal society. Lots of No Voters agree that the current system in the UK is failing. What separates the two sets of voters is the means through which they think change can be achieved.  Many No Voters have advised me that they think that we can achieve the radical change we need by remaining within the current UK system. While I would argue that it is not impossible to initiate this change within the present set up, it is highly unlikely to happen any time soon, as the infrastructure itself is constructed in such a way as to minimise the amount of influence the public can have on legislators.

The main problem is the First Past The Post System which we recently voted to maintain. In 12 of the last 17 General Elections, 90% of the seats went to the same party. In the last election only 15% of the seats were decided by less than 5% of the vote. Elections are won on key marginal seats which by their very nature force policies to acquiesce toward the bland and stagnant centre right. As only two parties have a realistic chance of gaining a majority, political strategists only need to devise manifestos that will swing those marginal seats. Due to the two party nature of the system, in most constituencies people know who is going to be elected before a vote is cast so many don’t even bother voting.

The tribal nature of it means that new parties with new ideas find it impossible to get a foothold. Also, we have a second chamber that is partially unelected which is undemocratic by its very nature. And we have politicians who are more likely to look after the interests of big business lobbyists than their constituents; look at all the Labour MPs like Margaret Curran who voted to cap benefits despite serving poor constituents, or the willingness of the Tories to sell off Royal Mail and other state assets to their friends at bargain basement prices.

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Our leaders no longer represent us and they have no incentive to change this. The problem means people get disillusioned with politics and disengage. In the last General Election the Tories won 35% of the vote but only 65% of the populace actually went to the ballot box.

Now, I don’t believe for one minute that Scotland is special and that the people are somehow different and more able to govern fairly. However, I do believe that human beings behave differently depending on the systems they act within. Proportional systems are fairer, they allow a wider range of views and they more accurately represent the electorate. This means that politicians in proportional systems are more likely to be like you and are more likely to make decisions for you.

The Scottish Government have also said that they will enshrine the right of the electorate to recall politicians into law so we can get rid of them if they fail us. A fairer political system is the only way to get politicians to work for us. Compare the make up of the Scottish Parliament to the make up of the UK Parliament if you are in any doubt. There are far more women represented, including half of the leaders. Now Compare the direction of the NHS in Scotland to that in England. Compare the cost of a Higher Education. Compare the cost of personal care for the elderly and many other policies. It is clear that the Scottish Parliament is working more for the benefit of the people.

When people feel politicians are there to serve them they are also more engaged in politics and this involvement further ensures that the system works for the majority. Look at the momentum in the Yes Campaign If you do not believe that a population can become energised if it feels that it can influence its future.

I would be happy to remain in the UK if I thought I could get the same kind of change that we will be able to enshrine into a Scottish Constitution. However, UK Politicians are not going to willingly alter a system from which they benefit and there is no mass movement outside of Scotland which is going to force them to do so. So, if you are voting No in the hope or belief that change is likely within the current system then I urge you to reconsider, or to help me understand what I am missing. Too many people are suffering through policies that would not have been inflicted on then under the Scottish system. Don’t gamble on the long-shot of change happening by voting No, when you can guarantee it with a Yes.

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