Proportional representation for dummies . . . by John Cleese

An SDP/Liberal alliance broadcast from 1987.

So it took the New Yorker to remind us of a party political broadcast, shown 23 years ago, that may prove helpful today. Here's the ex-Python John Cleese explaining the inequity of first-past-the-post and the benefits of proportional representation in a 1987 election broadcast.

 

 

In the previous election, the SDP/Liberal alliance had gained a 26 per cent share of the vote, which in turn translated into just 23 seats. Or, as he notes:

It took 40,000 voters to elect a Labour MP, only 33,000 to elect a Conservative and it took ten times that number -- 340,000 voters -- to elect one Social Democrat or Liberal MP.

UPDATE: In the interests of balance, and in case anyone is thinking of voting for a party that might insist on electoral reform, here's the front page of today's Daily Mail. If you don't get the symbolism of a blind Britannia walking dangerously close to the edge of a cliff marked "Hung Parliament", the headline is there to help you out.

 

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Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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If Seumas Milne leaves Jeremy Corbyn, he'll do it on his own terms

The Corbynista comms chief has been keeping a diary. 

It’s been a departure long rumoured: Seumas Milne to leave post as Jeremy Corbyn’s director of communications and strategy to return to the Guardian.

With his loan deal set to expire on 20 October, speculation is mounting that he will quit the leader’s office. 

Although Milne is a key part of the set-up – at times of crisis, Corbyn likes to surround himself with long-time associates, of whom Milne is one – he has enemies within the inner circle as well. As I wrote at the start of the coup, there is a feeling among Corbyn’s allies in the trade unions and Momentum that the leader’s offfice “fucked the first year and had to be rescued”, with Milne taking much of the blame. 

Senior figures in Momentum are keen for him to be replaced, while the TSSA, whose general secretary, Manuel Cortes, is one of Corbyn’s most reliable allies, is said to be keen for their man Sam Tarry to take post in the leader’s office on a semi-permanent basis. (Tarry won the respect of many generally hostile journalists when he served as campaign chief on the Corbyn re-election bid.) There have already been personnel changes at the behest of Corbyn-allied trade unions, with a designated speechwriter being brought in.

But Milne has seen off the attempt to remove him, with one source saying his critics had been “outplayed, again” and that any new hires will be designed to bolster, rather than replace Milne as comms chief. 

Milne, however, has found the last year a trial. I am reliably informed that he has been keeping a diary and is keen for the full story of the year to come out. With his place secure, he could leave “with his head held high”, rather than being forced out by his enemies and made a scapegoat for failures elsewhere, as friends fear he has been. The contents of the diary would also allow him to return in triumph to The Guardian rather than slinking back. 

So whether he decides to remain in the Corbyn camp or walk away, the Milne effect on Team Corbyn is set to endure.

 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.