Sitting on the bus going home yesterday evening I was flicking through the Standard and noticed a large double page piece on Gordon Brown.
And flicked through to the next page.
Because what can that man possibly say to a journalist that I actually believe or trust? I wasn't the only one. I glanced around the bus to see passengers all flicking over this piece of which Gordon must have been so pleased. The standard writing about him: gosh. Things are about to change and we really can win the general election!
Except that not even someone as absent from reality as our Prime Minister can believe that, can they? The news that he wished to change the voting system seemed to me an announcement to the country saying 'even we don't really think we can win'.
Labour of course lured the Liberal Democrats in the 1990s with their promise of electoral reform. And funnily enough, when it was obvious that they would smash the opposition via the First Past The Post System, there was no appetite for electoral reform.
To me, the polls these days show how shit all the parties are, rather than how inspirational any of them will be. The Tories will be tinkering pointlessly around the edges and the fact that they aren't in for a landslide victory at the General Election, leaving the disastrous Labour Party floundering around in a death dance, like a wasp in summer after an effective blast of 'raid' sadly says more about them than it does about our government.
But the declaration that Brown wants a new voting system to somehow rebuild trust in this shattered parliamentary democracy we have left is laughable, were it not so insulting. 'I want to give Parliament back to the people' he declares: the very man who refused us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and thus on our own future.
The AV system involves voters ranking their candidates in an order of preference. If a candidate receives a majority of first-place votes, he or she would be elected just as under the present system. However if no single candidate gets more than 50 per cent of the vote, the second choices for the candidate at the bottom are redistributed. The process is repeated until one candidate gets an absolute majority.
The Labour Party have moved boundaries around to benefit them in the first past the post system and now it seems that they will not win for a fourth time under FPTP, they wish to fiddle it so they have a fighting chance.
In the old days, before the Tories elected a leader who was missing a vital part of his skeleton, Labour and the Lib Dems were both on the left with the Tories on the right. In alternative voting this means that Labour and Lib Dems will do better because their supporters will rank each other 1 and 2 with the Tories ranked much lower down or, if you're a tactical voter like me, not ranked at all.
It's why the Lib Dems have long supported it and why now the outgoing government wishes to support it. It's to pretend to those who don't understand the complexities of gerrymandering that not only will they be tough on expenses *cough* but they will also make the parliamentary system more accountable.
I've long been an advocate of a change to the voting system because whilst there are flaws to proportional voting I think that universal suffrage is hampered if people have 'wasted votes' because they live in a strong hold. It also means that people end up voting for the big party they hate less rather than vote for the party they actually feels represents their views. European Parliament elections don't have these same constraints which is why there is a much broader spectrum of political views represented from your left wing Labour, BNP Labour and Green (although I suspect people who vote for them do it for the kittens rather than because they actually know what they stand for) through to your centre ground Tories and then tipping right towards UKIP. In simple terms.
What do we get in Westminster? A group of people barely distinguishable from each other who are occasionally joined by a chap in a crumpled suit and some well meaning gentleman who wandered into a village hall and was then unexpectedly elected to represent the 'Save Piddlington Hospital' party.
Gordon: if you'd said this when you were winning I might have wanted to punch you in the face less. But the fact that you've said it when you're losing and desperate to pick up votes from the Liberal Democrats makes me want to find a brick to fit snugly in my clenched fist.
At least I can be sure of one thing: it doesn't matter what he says as most people just don't care.