Right of Reply: Lord Parkinson

The chairman of the Conservative Party replies to Monday's criticism by Anne McElvoy
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The Independent Culture
SOME PEOPLE try to work out which electoral system would suit their party best and then argue that it is "fairer". On Monday, Anne McElvoy claimed that PR would harm the Conservative Party's electoral fortunes. Others have suggested to me that PR would speed up our recovery in Scotland and Wales.

This is not the way to debate fundamental constitutional change. The rules of the game should not be fixed in favour of one side or the other. We must put the national, not the party, interest first.

That is why we will be joining members of all parties and of none to oppose PR. I welcome the evidence from Labour's NEC to the Jenkins Commission that argued against PR. I am delighted that one of the largest unions, the AEEU, has announced funding for a "No" campaign. I am glad that at least 100 Labour MPs oppose change.

We share a common belief - that in a democracy, the people must be able to choose the government. This is not the case under PR, where parties spend weeks stitching together deals after the people have voted.

Independent research suggests that our electoral system is more proportional than any form of PR. The proportion of votes a party gets determines the proportion of time it spends in power.

Politicians choose who is in power under PR. This cannot be right. Yes, any party that commands widespread support is a coalition. But it decides its policies before the election, presenting it manifesto to the electorate for their approval.

The people, not the politicians, have the final say under our system. That is why we are preparing to campaign hard against PR in the forthcoming referendum. Nothing less than the people's votes are at stake.