Letter: Disenfranchised Europeans are a loss to democracy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Just when you think it's impossible to be depressed further by the warped views of those benefiting from our corrupt and unrepresentative political arrangements, along comes another shock. Now we have Sir Teddy Taylor MP's interesting concept of democracy as applied to the European Parliament elections ('Foreign voters to lose out in poll for Strasbourg', 29 March): he believes the Government should make no efforts to tell European citizens resident in the UK that they have the right to vote in June, because this 'could have a distorting effect' on the outcome.

I can scarcely believe what I'm hearing. Keeping people in the dark who are entitled to vote doesn't have a distorting effect on the outcome, then? Sir Teddy's view, however, would seem to be entirely consistent with the Conservative Party's protestations of commitment to democracy while happy to cling to power against the wishes of the majority of the population, courtesy of the first-past-the-post electoral system.

This approach to democracy stops being laughable, though, when you look at the British National Party's electoral success in Tower Hamlets with 33.9 per cent of the vote. Under any fair electoral system - the single transferable vote system (STV) of proportional representation, for example, - the result would have been very different. No one should ever be able to take a seat on a minority vote: it's a perversion of democracy.

STV is used in Northern Ireland precisely to ensure that minorities and extremists can't grab disproportionate power. The Conservative Party finds it impossible to reform the electoral system in England, Scotland and Wales, though, because it is the chief beneficiary of the present arrangements.

Can it really be true that Conservatives would rather see racists elected than accede to a representative electoral system? The cynicism of it makes you weep.

Yours sincerely,


Sevenoaks, Kent