I’m afraid Martin Kettle is going to have to wait a long time for a Shirley Williams-style compromise between parties (An electoral fix alone won’t save Britain’s progressives. Agreeing principles might, 21 April). Williams compromised with the Tories over Andrew Lansley’s catastrophic NHS reforms, demonstrating that the more powerful political partner usually gets most of what it wants. Since there are no “broadly shared political objectives” in parliament, as there was with postwar Butskellism, the centre-left has no alternative but to form an electoral alliance with the shared objective of constitutional reform.
Most progressive politicians could get behind a federal system of nations, and English regions represented in a senate (with the Lords abolished); proportional representation for both houses; local devolution of power; and perhaps the French model of separated powers between the executive and the legislature to avoid coalitions. This should result in majority opinion being properly represented and perhaps end the dysfunctional relationship between the Tory and Labour right and left.
• Martin Kettle is too pessimistic – surely Labour would consider empowering its rivals if that is the only way to gain a majority? Labour getting a majority on its own at the next election seems unlikely. But offering to stand down candidates in selected seats to help the Green party and Liberal Democrats gain seats, and vice versa, would make a parliamentary majority very likely. There would be clear incentives for each party: the chance of a seat in government to tackle the climate emergency (Greens), a return to its recent political heft (Lib Dems) and a return to government (Labour).
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