John Cleese Advocates PR
 
John Cleese, the British comedian perhaps best-known for his roles in "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and "A Fish Called Wanda," first did a 10-minute political advertisement on proportional representation in 1985. In September 1998, he did a new version. It follows...

Liberal Democrat Party Political Broadcast
Thursday, September 3, 1998
 
Voice over logo: Now a party political broadcast on behalf of the Liberal Democrat party.
 
Cut to Paddy Ashdown:
 
ěThank you.î
Voice over logo: Thatís quite enough of party politicals.
Cut to John Cleese against white background:
 
ěBecause you see the rest of this broadcast - four minutes - isnít really a party political because itís about something which is supported by lots of people in lots of different parties, Proportional Representation. PR. Now if you think that PR is boring youíre a very silly person because itís about how we run the country better.
 
ěThe basic idea of PR is that each partyís size in the House of Commons should reflect its support in the country. In other words, if 40% of you want Party A and 30% of you want Party B and 20% want Party C and 10% want Party D, then the MPs should be roughly 40 for A, 30 for B and 20 for C and 10 for D.î
John Cleese indicates the visual.
 
ěSo peopleís views are represented in Parliament in proportion to their strength in the Country. Thatís PR, or fair votes.
 
ěWhereas under our present system - first-past-the-post, as in horse racing - you get the following results. In 1951, Labour got more votes than the Conservatives and lost the election. In 1974, the Conservatives got the most votes and .... lost the election. And in this Parliament, the Tories got 18% of the votes in Scotland and have no MPs there at all, while the Lib Dems got 13% and 10 MPs. Not fair.
 
ěSo .... One .... PRís a fairer system. Not a perfect system - this is politics. But a lot fairer.
 
ěNext. Point Two.î
A girl in a spangly dress holds up the No.2.
 
ěThank you Debbie.
 
ěHas it occurred to you that the way most of you vote doesnít at present make any difference?î
 
ěWell, the last election was decided in the marginal seats, wasnít it?
John Cleese indicates map of UK. Parts of it light up.
 
ěThat means that if you live in the rest of the UK ....î
The lighted up parts switch off and the rest of the map lights up.
 
ě .... in the ësafeí seats, it didnít matter how you voted, because the same party always wins those seats. So you knew who your MP was going to be before you even got to the polling station. Your vote made no difference.
 
ěThis means under our present system the parties, at elections, concentrate on the people who live in these marginal seats ....î
They light up again.
 
ě .... tailoring what they say and what they promise to the people there, and not worrying about the rest of you who live ....î
The lighting reverses again.
 
ě .... here.
 
ěBut .... under PR, all the votes count ....î
The whole map lights up.
 
ěSo politicians will have to listen to all of us and address the issues that affect all of us.
 
ěNext. Point Three.î
A middle-aged man in a spangly dress holds up the No.3.
 
ěThank you Gerald.
 
ěPR makes parties work together more. So youíre far less likely to get a new Government changing all the ideas of the one before. This stability means businesses can plan better, and thatís why countries with PR systems - like Germany, Holland, Ireland and Greece - have consistently beaten Britain in terms of economic success.î
Indicates graphic.
 
ěSo the reasons for PR: itís fairer; everybodyís vote counts; you get more continuity.
 
ěNow .... the reasons against PR.î
A village idiot holds up the No.1.
 
ěFirst: people say it creates weak coalition governments. Well, theyíve had these weak coalition governments in Germany, Holland, Ireland and Greece. So maybe we need a bit of that kind of weakness ourselves.î
Idiot falls over. Second one steps in holding No.2.
 
ěNext: they say that PR doesnít work in Italy. Well, as any Italian will proudly tell you nothing political works in Italy, except that they just happened to have overtaken our average income per person by 25% in the last 18 years, in spite of the appalling disadvantages of their PR system.î
Second idiot falls over. Third one holds up No.3 wrong way round.
 
ěNext argument against PR. Itís too complicated.
 
ěWell the Bulgarians use PR and so do the Maltese, the Albanians and the Irish. But if you feel that it would be much too difficult for you, please do vote against PR.î
Third idiot shoots himself. Fourth idiot holds up sign ëFinallyí.
 
ěFinally, some people say that under PR major decisions are taken behind closed doors in smoke filled rooms. Letís examine what theyíre saying.
 
ěTheyíre saying that encourages parties to talk together to see where they can agree on common ground - to try to share power. Thatís a good thing isnít it?
 
ěAfter all, when Maggie Thatcher was running the UK in the late 1980s, 58% of the voters had voted against her.
 
ěWhereas under PR if you donít give one party a proper majority, theyíre forced to share power with others.
 
ěThank you.î