Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Representative democracy in action

I have the greatest respect for Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting - he's just about the only blogger I can think of who pulls off the trick of being openly partisan about his allegiance while being non-partisan in his analysis. But his tirade against the provost of Dundee city council for resigning the Labour whip and pledging to support an incoming SNP administration is somewhat baffling. Jeff deems it a "smack in the jaw for democracy" and declares that having being elected on a Labour ticket Councillor Letford has a "duty" to maintain that allegiance.

What Jeff appears to be arguing here is that a democratic system is one in which a candidate is elected not as an individual but as a party representative (or lobby fodder, to put it more brutally). But isn't that exactly the objection to the d'Hondt system that Jeff so detests? That candidates 'rejected' by the voters can still be elected as part of a party bloc? If individual accountability to the voters is to have any meaning, we have to accept that defections (and this isn't even a full defection) are an acceptable part of the political process. And, incidentally, if an SNP councillor had just defected to Labour, yes I'd probably be enthusiastically joining in the invective against him or her, but I wouldn't be calling into question the system that allowed it to happen. This is representative democracy doing precisely what it says on the tin.

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