One of the constant refrains from Neanderthal opponents of electoral reform in the London parties is that it is simply unconscionable to have a system that enables a "loser to win". We heard it endlessly during the AV referendum campaign, but it's also often been raised as an objection to the AMS system used for the Scottish Parliament, which makes it possible for a candidate who has been defeated in a constituency to still be elected on the regional list.
Curiously, though, there seems to be considerable overlap between complaints about the so-called "losers winning" vagaries of PR, and enthusiastic support for the House of Lords as an anachronism that supposedly "works". Chiefly, of course, the anachronism works by allowing "sound chaps" like Jeremy Purvis to carry on legislating for us in spite of having been roundly rejected by the errant electorate of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.
Every loser wins
Once the dream begins
In time you'll see, fate holds the key
And every loser knows
The light the tunnel shows
Will shine on you
Jeremy was so right to keep the faith. Why would a Liberal Democrat need democracy?
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Plaid Cymru seem to be storming to victory in the Ynys Môn by-election - a huge relief, given that it will deprive Labour of an outright majority in the Welsh Assembly. Although it may have looked like a safe seat for Plaid on paper, that was highly deceptive because Labour have held the equivalent Westminster seat since 2001 (a situation eerily reminiscent of the Aberdeen Donside by-election, where of course the incumbent government's parliamentary majority was also hanging in the balance).
Plaid were helped along by some stardust from their TV personality candidate Rhun ap Iorwerth, a man so famous that even I recognised him straight away. He's already being spoken of as a potential long-term successor to Leanne Wood as party leader, although I was slightly shocked to read this reaction from a Labour source -
"Plaid are getting rather ahead of themselves. Rhun is likely to win the by-election, but talk of him as a future leader is very premature...
Most people in Wales won’t even be able to pronounce his name, and it’s difficult to imagine someone called Rhun ap Iorwerth going down well in Islwyn."
Can you even begin to imagine the outrage if Labour had made that comment about a candidate with a Pakistani or Chinese name? And yet what exactly is the difference?
* * *
UPDATE : The sensational Ynys Môn result in full -
Plaid Cymru 58.2% (+16.8)
Labour 15.9% (-10.3)
UKIP 14.3% (+14.3)
Conservatives 8.5% (-20.7)
Socialist Labour 1.6% (+1.6)
Liberal Democrats 1.4% (-1.8)