Letter: PR: some pointers for the puzzled

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Diamond envisages a parliament made up of 285 Labour MPs, 201 Tories and 165 Liberals, and wonders which two-party coalition could claim a mandate to rule, and what would they take for a manifesto?

These issues cannot be avoided under PR, but when we introduce PR to Britain the parties will have to explain their views on collaboration as part of their campaign. Only those who stand for election with the attitude that they will obtain an absolute majority are going to disappoint their voters by agreeing to share power; but I doubt that any party capable of denying political reality to that extent will attract many votes anyway.

As for the mandate, there is no reason to limit the possibilities to the smallest possible coalitions that can assert a majority. If the seats fall according to Mr Diamond's scenario the best solution is a three-way coalition government. That would maximise the number of laws that could be passed with the support of at least 56 per cent of the voters. When was the last time first-past-the-post gave such a democratic result?

MARK BASSETT

New Malden, Surrey

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