PR is not a shortcut round class struggle

Submitted by martin on 14 September, 2021 - 9:19
2019 election result, under PR

In my Constituency Labour Party (CLP), when we discussed which motion to prioritise for Labour Party conference, much of the left argued that a motion calling for Proportional Representation (PR) was the most important, more important than my class-struggle “Build Back Fairer” motion.

The PR proposal was, so they argued, the door which opened the way to everything advocated in the other motions.

After all, the Tories’ current parliamentary majority, won through First Past the Post (FPTP), comes despite them holding a minority vote share. With a more democratic electoral system, we wouldn’t be in the current mess: and a Labour-led government would be more realisable.

This argument rings of a technocratic combination of utopianism and parliamentary proceduralism.

PR is undoubtedly more democratic than First Past The Post (FPTP). Yet how will we win it? The Tories will not implement even such a modest reform without immense pressure. Labour would need to be in power, more left-wing, and under at least some pressure to do so.

Either case requires a mass working-class movement which win PR as part of a range of social and democratic gains. Such a movement will be built around relatable class-struggle and visions and programmes that can motivate and inspire people: not simply promises, seemingly plucked out of the air, to make bourgeois democracy more democratic.

Even if PR were implemented tomorrow, a cursory look at the UK vote share, or at German politics tell us we would not immediately have a left-wing government. What is needed, again, is a mass working-class left-wing movement.

Class struggle, and bold left-wing ideas, as seen in Momentum Internationalists’ model motions, are in fact what will open the door to the wider changes needed.

Zack Muddle, Bristol West

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