LETTER:Power to the Unionists

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From Mr Philip Goldenberg

Sir: From time to time, opponents of electoral reform point out how undesirable it would be if, as a consequence of its introduction, a minority party such as the Liberal Democrats "held the country to ransom" in a Parliament of minorities, as if such a situation could never arise under our beloved first-past-the-post electoral system.

At the last general election, the Liberal Democrats polled 17.9 per cent of the total votes cast in the UK on a widespread geographical basis, and won 20 seats. The Ulster Unionists polled 0.8 per cent of the total votes cast on a narrow geographical basis, and won nine seats.

The fate of the present government is now widely regarded as dependent on the Ulster Unionists, with all the difficulties that this may entail for the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Moral: if we do have a Parliament of minorities, they should at least be representative minorities!

Yours truly,

Philip Goldenberg

Woking, Surrey

4 January