Where is there a truly representative democracy? I was listening to something on the radio yesterday about the US. Each state no matter how big or how small elects the same number of senators, so that America's farmers remain relatively prosperous, because the small agricultural states have more say than the big city states, whereas the urban population in many states lack the basics of life.
If we introduce PR and our legislature becomes truly representative of the votes cast, we'll lose the contact of an MP representing his constituency in any meaningful way.
I disagree about the coalition BTW. For me they haven't put a brake of the worst excesses of the Tories. NHS "reform" Austerity, Student Fees and many other obnoxious policies not in their manifesto have been allowed to go ahead.. They claim that the £10k tax threshold is down to them, but they keep quiet about nodding through the 20% VAT rate, that more or less eats up any gains for most people.
The US system is worse than ours. It is designed to fail. Unless a President carries the Senate and the House, they can't get much done. One can repeatedly block the other, and they usually do. But at least their second chamber (House of Representatives) that is elected, unlike our second chamber (House of Lords) which, hilariously after all these years, remains wholly appointed. What kind of democracy is that, but a totally warped one.
For me, there is no justifiable defence left for FPTP, in an age when the two old 'major' parties are shedding vote share like crazy. The current Coalition is not a fair representation of what a coalition might look like elected under a proportional system, because the share of seats would be far more balanced.
Had the 2010 result been proportional, we'd have seen something like this:-
Conservative (36.1%) 234 seats (as opposed to the 307, or 47.2% of total seats they got)
Labour (29.0%) 188 seats (as opposed to the 258, or 39.7% of total seats they got)
Lib Dem (23.0%) 149 seats (as opposed to the 57, or 8.8% of total seats they got)
Given that an overall majority in the House of Commons requires 326 seats, under PR, the Lib Dems could have done a deal with either Labour or the Conservatives, and whichever they had chosen, for whatever reasons, they would have carried far more clout in that coalition with 149 seats than they ever could with just the 57 they got under FPTP, which has seen them function mostly as enablers of Conservative legislation and apologists/scapegoats for the most unpopular aspects of it.
The notion that the contact of a sole MP is a good enough reason to lumber on with an electoral system that completely distorts the will of the electorate, and effectively disenfranchises millions of them by denying them the representation they voted for, is to me, a joke. I'd guess many people don't have a clue who their MP is anyway, and many vote for a party label already, otherwise why are party labels included on ballot papers now, when once upon a time they were not.
We're living in an age where people are disillusioned with the political process and actively disengaging from it. That's a dangerous road to continue down and the next General Election, under FPTP, will make it far worse. Not just because it is likely that UKIP will win a lot of votes and very few seats, enraging those who choose to vote for them, but those votes will skew the outcome in possibly hundreds of other seats. Whichever of the 'major' parties limps over the line to form a government, they will have no genuine mandate if they have achieved barely a third of the votes cast, which looks likely. And that would be a third of the vote on a turnout of probably only 65%, ie, a majority government with the active support of less than a quarter of the total electorate. That is not democracy by any measure.
The number of the electorate actually supporting and having voted for the government of the day will continue to decline until this stupid, antiquated, undemocratic system we are hobbled with at Westminster is cast into the dustbin of history and replaced with something that at the very least begins to produce a House of Commons that more accurately reflects the way people have voted.
I think a switch to PR would re-energise politics in this country. Every vote would carry the same weight. No party could take its electorate for granted or rely on appealing only to its own 'base' to win a majority. It should be applied to local authorities too. No more one-party fiefdoms. It would also kill the fear many have that the current hot potato of 'English votes on English laws' - ie turning Westminster into a de facto English Parliament by barring non-English MPs from voting on English only laws, following greater devolution to Scotland - would result in a permanent Tory majority. Under FPTP, a permanent Tory majority in England is much more likely. Scary thought, for any non-Tory voters out there...
Sure, PR might mean a few people or parties you don't like gaining seats, but it is better to have them inside Parliament where they can be held to account, than leave them to raise an angry army of the disenfranchised on the outside, panicking the 'major' parties into bending over backwards to appease them and forgetting what they are supposed to believe in themselves in the process, as is happening now with the 'UKIP effect' on the Tories and Labour. And in any case, an electoral system shouldn't be designed to keep anyone out, it should be designed to reflect the will of the electorate, whatever that might be.