Letter: Britain's 'two nations' revisited

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Secretary of State for Wales, William Hague, expressing his total opposition last week even to a review of our present electoral system, went so far as to claim that those countries which had adopted any proportionally representative voting system were provenly weak and unstable. He picked, as one would expect, on Italy. He failed to mention those in Europe which had adopted some other form of voting than "first past the post", including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Portugal; and further afield Australia, New Zealand, Japan and others. Are all these unstable societies?

Surely the Tory party leadership should already have taken account of the facts, apparent from recent by-election results and opinion polls, that there are scores of constituencies throughout Britain where the third party in voting terms is Liberal Democrat, but with little or no chance of winning; that tactical voting, especially among the young, is on the increase; and that New Labour has reasserted its pledge to have a referendum about electoral reform during the lifetime of the next parliament.

In 1951 Winston Churchill declared that unless the unfair electoral system were changed there would be dire future consequences for the Tories. If these long-hatched chickens are now coming home to roost, who is to blame?

Sir FREDERIC BENNETT

Aberangell, Gwynedd

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