Letter: Votes for PR

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Max Beran appears to be slightly confused (Letter, 24 September). On the one hand he regrets that individuals cannot be voted for but on the other says that PR does not allow a choice of policy. Surely an election is primarily about policy and it is a fact that the vast majority of electors vote for a party ticket without any regard to the personal qualities of candidates. If PR does not result in a particular party policy being followed, so what? It has to be better to have an ultimate policy which 60 per cent, say, of the electorate can live with rather than profoundly reject.

One also has to look at examples of PR outside Britain. An interesting example is Holland, where in recent years there has been the equivalent of a Labour-Conservative coalition known as the "purple" coalition. Many needed changes were then possible which would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for each party alone. It is interesting to speculate on what a Blair-Hague coalition might achieve; might we not have a modest increase in taxation coupled with a drastically improved NHS? Such a policy would be political dynamite for either party to advocate individually but would probably easily win over a majority of the electorate once jointly proposed.

No electoral system is perfect, but all the advantages of first-past- the-post to which Max Beran clings must be outweighed by the risk of extreme policies being imposed on the back of only a 40-per-cent vote.