Sir Gus O'Donnell, who served as Cabinet Secretary under three Prime Ministers (Blair, Brown and Cameron) has declared that the SNP's seemingly imminent breakthrough at Westminster will call into question the legitimacy of the first-past-the-post voting system. He quite clearly tied this point to the ongoing outbreak of Tartan Terror and Haggis Phobia by noting that what the election is "all about is Scotland" - which is plainly a fate worse than death as far as Whitehall mandarins are concerned.
So we're being invited to believe that the SNP winning 7% or 8% of the seats on the basis of 4% of the UK-wide vote, and holding merely a share of power as a result, somehow instantly renders first-past-the-post no longer fit for purpose, when the following was apparently perfectly OK -
* Elections being "all about" the West Midlands, London, and the North-West of England, because that's where all the marginal seats were. Party leaders used to make one or two bored visits to Scotland during general election campaigns to avoid looking impolite.
* Labour being "elected" to rule on a single-party basis in 2005, in spite of 65% of the electorate voting against them. It barely seemed to even occur to anyone in the London media to raise question marks over legitimacy, and when one journalist went through the motions of doing so, Tony Blair effortlessly got away with a show of astonishment.
* Mrs Thatcher using the absolute power of an elective dictatorship to turn the UK upside down and devastate working-class communities, even though anything up to 58% of people had voted against her. (The combined non-Tory vote was never lower than 56% in any of her three general election "victories".) It's remarkable that so many people in Labour were relaxed about this effect of the voting system - it was a price well worth paying, apparently, just so long as they got their own shot at absolute power eventually.
You might suppose that it's wishful thinking to suggest that even the London establishment's loathing of the Jocks will prove strong enough to finally get rid of first-past-the-post, but consider this - the UK political system is becoming more like India's. We still have first-past-the-post, and yet we have little prospect of anything other than proportional representation-type outcomes (ie. no single party holding a clear working majority) for the foreseeable future. The reason this is happening is the same as in India - fracturing and regionalisation of the party system. If a "regional" party gets 40% or 45% of the vote in its own part of the country, first-past-the-post exaggerates the effect and ensures that "national" parties are unlikely to pick up many seats there, thus significantly reducing the chances of anyone winning an overall majority.
Northern Ireland effectively "seceded" from the UK party system in the early 1970s, and it looks like Scotland could be about to do something similar. When the Liberal Democrats regroup from their upcoming disaster, they could start to look like a de facto regional party of South-West England, and of course Plaid Cymru are already dominant in a few pockets of Wales. Even Labour and the Tories are becoming increasingly "regional", because both are failing to challenge outside their own heartlands as effectively as they used to a few decades ago.
So if the London establishment are no longer enjoying the supposed "advantage" of first-past-the-post (ie. single-party elective dictatorship on a minority vote), they might just conclude that they have nothing left to lose by "stuffing the Jocks" (to use Mike Smithson's favourite phrase), and introducing proportional representation to weaken the SNP's influence. Let's hope so - even when the right thing is done for stupid and offensive reasons, it's still the right thing.