/* My bits are protected, are yours?*/ poons: Robin Cook
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14 August, 2005
  Robin Cook
It's just over a week since Robin Cook sadly died and, like a lot of people I suspect, I've learned more about him in the last week than I knew before.

Gordon Brown gave a superb eulogy and his summing up got me thinking.

So let us draw strength from Robin's achievements that light the way ahead.
Let us affirm his work will go on.
That those who heard him as a voice for justice will have their voices heard.
That justice will be championed wherever there is injustice and in every corner of our country and our world.
And guiding us on that onward journey, now and in the days ahead, Robin's values, Robin's service, Robin's passion for justice.

One of Robin's passions was electoral reform, and as part of that commitment he was the President of the Make Votes Count Campaign. In their words :

Make Votes Count is the coalition that campaigns for referendum on a more representative voting system. It has brought together all the organisations campaigning for reform, these are: Charter88, Christian Socialist Movement, Electoral Reform Society, Fawcett Society, Green Party, Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, the Liberal Democrats, New Politics Network, and Plaid Cymru. Make Votes Count also has over ten thousand individual supporters.

There is an article written by Robin that puts the Labour case for reform that gives the astonishing fact that

Back in the 1960s one third of all MPs were elected by the vote of a majority of the electorate of their constituency. Yet today the first-past- the-post system cannot handle the increasing pluralism of British opinion. In 2001 not a single MP was elected with a majority of the electorate in their constituency.
Most people, by far the majority of the people in Britain were represented by MPs for whom they did not vote and our MPs represent constituencies in which most of whose electors did not vote for them. This is not a healthy democratic situation.

Looking at their 2005 general election key facts article, makes for even more depressing reading.

Labour majority of 67 based on 35.2% of the UK vote - flimsiest base of public support ever for a majority government.
Labour supported by only 9.6m out of 44.4m voters - lowest total of Labour votes in any post-1945 election except for 1983. With turnout an abysmal 61.3% this government was supported by only 21.6% of whole electorate.
In simple terms for every person who voted Labour, almost two voted for other parties and two did not vote.
Only 34% of MPs were elected with over half the vote in their constituencies, the lowest proportion in British history.
No MP polled a majority of electorate in their own constituency (back in the 60s around 1/3 of MPs enjoyed this level of support).

So that 66% of the House of Commons are sitting there without a majority of the vote never mind the electorate. This is very very wrong.

MVC currently claim 10,000 individual supporters, but my betting is that there are over 10,000 people who thought Robin Cook was honest, decent, principled beyond the trappings of power, and that his demise is both un-timely and a very bad thing for British politics. If you are one of those people, then potter over to MMVC and register your support, check to see if your constituency has a contact. As that link shows mine hasn't so I'm looking into it.

To Quote from Lord Lipsey's letter to The Times :

Robin took his presidency of Make Votes Count (MVC) not just as a badge of honour but as a duty to act. His passion in the cause was enough to persuade all but the hard-boiled that only a fool or knave could back the present system, by which most votes have no conceivable effect on the general election result. From this defect, he argued, much of the dangerous decline in political engagement flowed.

We've got 5 years at most to bring about a change in the voting system in this country, time to get busy people.
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