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New Left Review I/158, July-August 1986

Arthur Scargill

Proportional Representation: A Socialist Concept

I submit that proportional representation is a fundamental socialist concept. I argue, furthermore, that no socialist seriously committed to democratic, accountable representation can advocate any other electoral system. My argument, however, is completely different from that put by the sdp/Liberal Alliance. When we look back across the century, we see that the Liberals’ interest in electoral reform only dates from the time they ceased to be a major parliamentary party. As for the leaders of the sdp, it is only since they broke away from the Labour Party that they have changed their tune and begun to support changes in our electoral system, harking back to the strategies of Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden. [*] Text of a speech delivered in debate with Peter Hain, author of a forthcoming book on systems of representation, at a meeting organized by the Socialist Society in June 1986.

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