Alex Massie

Scotland Will Save England From PR

Text settings

That's right. There's a genial irony here. The very same Scottish MPs whose election helped prevent the Conservatives from winning a majority will be the men - and they are mostly men - who will prevent electoral reform. Those English voters who think it unfair that the great phalanx of Labour MPs returned from these chilly northern climes exercise an undue (in their eyes) influence upon the affairs of state might also pause to reflect that the people who will prevent electoral reform may well be those same Scottish Labour members.

Not that this stops the deluded left from dreaming of some grand so-called progressive alliance. They're all at it and all utterly detached from reality. Exhibit A: Polly Toynbee. Exhibit B: Jackie Ashley. Exhibit C: The Observer's editorial.

Wake up people. This isn't going to happen and not just because even if you cobble together every non-Tory in Westminster you barely get to 326. Nor are there 326 votes for proportional representation in the new House of Commons and people, including the Liberal Democrats, who think there are should, as the Irish put it, cop on to themselves. 

Is Tom Harris going to vote for electoral reform? I don't think so. Nor will his friend David Cairns. And they'll be joined by other Scottish members who know only too well that electoral reform dashes Labour's chance of ever governing on its own again. Because that's what has happened in Scotland and, my, how the Labour party dislikes that fact.

Sure, no PR = no Scottish Parliament but if they could Scottish Labour would be very interested in changing the voting system at Holyrood. As an indication of what the Scottish party thinks of electoral reform consider the (admittedly pointless) debate on electoral reform for Westminster held at Holyrood last month. Not a single Labour MSP voted in favour of a motion, (again pointless but that's not the point here,) calling for PR for Westminster elections.

There's no reason to think that many of their Tartan brethren at Westminster are any more enthusiastic about the matter.

With the current parliamentary arithmetic, this is why Dave can offer Clegg a free vote on PR at Westminster and be pretty much assured it won't pass. Scottish Labour won't wear it.

So, again, those English voters most appalled by the idea of electoral reform may find that, in this instance at least, Scottish Labour MPs have their uses...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.