Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sir Humphrey on electoral reform

A version of that classic political sitcom Yes, Minister is about to open on London's West End stage and to mark the occasion Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn have prepared for the London Daily Telegraph what they think Sir Humphrey Appleby would make of Whitehall today. This excerpt is from a minute from Sir Humphrey to Bernard Wooley on the subject of electoral reforms:
Our objective is full Proportional Representation, when electors simply vote for a party, and the parties then appoint their placemen in proportion to the votes they receive. This would cut the last link between the MP and voter, eliminating the risk of voters electing one of those maverick independent-minded members who cause us so much trouble. All MPs will have their jobs by virtue of party patronage alone and therefore their docility will be guaranteed. Furthermore, it will greatly increase the likelihood of a coalition, as no single party will be able to introduce those sweeping reforms which overturn those tried and trusted administrative procedures which enable us to conduct responsible government.
Your criticisms of some aspects of government as being ''undemocratic’’ suggest a profound misunderstanding. Democracy is the enemy of government. The mass of voters have no idea how the country should be run. That is our job. Democracy is only a device to enable the government to pretend it is acting with the consent of the people.
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