Monday, April 19, 2010

Could the Whigs Learn something from the Liberal Democrats of the U.K. ?

Believe it or not, we Americans could learn something from our allies across the Atlantic. Just last week, the U.K. witness something they had never seen before, a televised/live political candidate debate. We Americans are rather used to such things as they've been going on since the 1960 Presidential Election and as such many in the U.K. tuned in. What was the result of this debate? Well for those who know little of foreign politics, current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is not exactly popular and most observers in Britain have predicted his party, Labour, will lose the next Parliamentary elections on May 6. Before the debate it was widely predicted (and even accepted) that the Conservative Party led by David Cameron would defeat Brown but there was some certainly on whether either major party would win a true majority. How could that be? Well unlike the USA, Britain has a major third party influence. The Liberal Democrats has since the late 80's won roughly 20% of the vote in UK elections and have played a small but largely unimportant part in UK politics. That has all changed this year. Even before the debate it was believe the Liberal Democrats could play "Kingmaker" this May for which ever party offers them the best partnership. The Debate changed all that. The leader of the Liberal Deomcrats, Nick Clegg, was able to not only charm the viewers and audience, but also mock the bickering of the two major parties. "The more they attack each other, the more they sound the same," Clegg rightfully pointed out. Now doesn't that sound familiar? Clegg also pointed out that politics as usual is what caused the UK's financial problems and political scandals and that a different path was needed. Since that debate, two new polls have put the Liberal Democrats ahead of Labour and even ahead of the Conservatives in one poll.

But because the UK's somewhat dysfunctional electoral system, even though Labour is third in most polls, they could come out with the most seats (though still not enough for a majority)...We American can relate to such confusion. The UK has a electoral system similar to our "Winner Takes All" system called "First Past the Post" which limits the ability for third parties to win a great deal of seats. Most in the UK predict if the Liberal Democrats do well, they could form a Alliance government with Labour and in return they will likely demand election reform to move the UK closer to a proportional voting system (which favors smaller parties like the Liberal Dems). So what can the Modern Whig Party learn from this? Plenty.

While it's not likely a major third party prescence will appear here in American this year or even 2 years from now, we do now know that it is possible for such to occur even with our Winner Take All voting system. In fact, on the Semi-Official Modern Whig Party Facebook group I and several other members debated possible election reform that increase fairness and allow our voice as citizens to be better heard in our government. Such talk of reform, while likely a long way off, nevertheless gives some of us hope that we could one day see such success for our party in the future. Something else to learn from the Liberal Democrats is Message. The Liberal Democrats have the right platform for the UK right now. They are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. For this reason the Modern Whig has something in common with the Liberal Dems, both have platforms that reflect how alot of their citizens feel about issues that are important to them. So if I was the MWP leadership, I'd be watching this election in the UK very closely..Cheers!

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