Best for Britain boss calls for FPP to be scrapped on Politics for Drummies podcast
The new episode covers the first-past-the-post electoral system, the dangers of thinktanks and a return to more traditional campaigning tactics.
Naomi Smith is the latest Politics for Drummies guest
Naomi Smith, CEO of campaigning group Best for Britain, has used her guest appearance on The Drum’s Politics for Drummies podcast to highlight how outdated the UK’s first-past-the-post voting system is and why proportionate representation would lead to a fairer system of government for British society.
Speaking to Politics for Drummies host Alastair Duncan, Smith strongly outlined her belief that only by having more voices involved in the decision and policy-making processes at a government level can all elements of a modern and diverse society be appropriately served.
She said: “I don’t think you can defend the current voting system. I don’t think it should take 800,000 votes to get one Green MP elected but just a few thousand votes to get one Conservative MP elected. The system is wrong. It is unequal. It is not democratic equality. Most western liberal democracies ditched it a long, long time ago.
“At the moment, we have a system where with only 40% of the vote, you get 100% of the executive power, 100% control of the government. Under a proportionate system, what you’d end up having is much more dispersed power. Many more parties have to work together in the national interest. Nobody holds the keys to absolutely everything. And that makes for better pluralistic decision-making. It’s just healthier and more grown up.”
Smith is CEO of Best for Britain, an organization established in 2017 to campaign against Brexit, but since the UK’s departure from the EU, it has refocused its efforts on encouraging greater internationalism and promoting governance that gives voters tools to speak to and influence those in power.
In the podcast, Smith also touched upon the dangers of thinktanks that she feels are wielding too much power in the UK. She said: “There are too many shadowy so-called thinktanks that are funded by big corporates with an agenda that doesn’t serve our society. Whether that’s the tobacco lobby or big oil or whoever funding thinktanks that publish papers saying climate change is a hoax, tobacco is great for children and so on. This is still happening. It happens the world over, but a hell of a lot of it happens in Westminster politics. And the disproportionate impact and influence that that has shouldn’t be underestimated.”
In an age where social media is seen as the quickest (and cheapest) route to voters, Smith says she is excited by a potential return to more traditional campaigning tactics in the future: “I’m actually quite excited about doing some more old-school campaigning, I think we’re going to see a return to out-of-home. I think we are going to have to be more old school in our approach and go to where our swing voters are, where the younger middle-aged people are, because they’re not on Facebook any more. I think the exception to that will probably be Spotify and buying space around podcasts as we know a lot more about those audiences and they may be more amenable to hearing what we have to say. I think we’re going to see a return to billboards, particularly digital billboards. You can do a lot more in terms of on gym screens and on digital displays within the transport infrastructure, and things like that.”
Coming up next on Politics for Drummies is Karin Robinson, the senior director of strategy at Edelman and a former regional field director for Obama.