Could UKIP deliver electoral reform?

Douglas Carswell

Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s first elected MP, has suggested that his party could deliver electoral reform after the election.

According to the BBC, Carswell made the comments at UKIP’s conference in Kent. He said that he supports a real recall bill, which would propose that if 20% of a constituency want to recall their MP then a by-election could take place.

He said he also thinks that just because people rejected AV in 2011, that the country should not reject the idea of reforming the UK’s political system.

The MP for Clacton, according to the BBC, also said:

"Just because Nick Clegg's idea of AV was a bad idea, just because the Liberal Democrats are such a bad advertisement for reform, doesn't mean we can't do better."

Carswell has long been an advocate of electoral reform, having allied with the Green’s only MP, Caroline Lucas, on the issue, back in 2010.

Additionally, Nigel Farage, backed a yes vote to AV back in 2011. Speaking to the Spectator he said:

“It [FPTP] doesn’t really have legitimacy. You know, it worked when we were a two party state. I completely lost faith in it in 2005 when Blair was returned with a 60 seat majority on 36 per cent of the vote, or 22 per cent if you factor in low turnout.”

Could UKIP actually help deliver electoral reform? This will depend on how many seats the party manages to get in May and how much influence it would resultantly wield.

One thing’s for sure, UKIP could quite easily exemplify the need for changes to the electoral system in particular. If the party gets say 15% of the vote in May but only a handful of seats, whilst the Liberal Democrats fall to say 9% of the vote but 20-30 seats then this will clearly demonstrate one of the key flaws of the UK’s first-past-the-post system.

Whether or not they could help achieve it is a different matter. However, they could form an unlikely alliance with the Liberal Democrats in the push for change. If for example, there’s another Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, and if it falls short of a majority, then UKIP could help them on key issues in exchange for a number of things, such as an EU referendum. Electoral reform could also be one of the party’s main priorities.

2010 did not lead to reform, but 2015 could just do that and UKIP could lead the charge.


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