Why those “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” turned out to be rather important

Tim Montgomerie, writing in today’s Times (behind a paywall) says that

many people have learnt it can be dangerous to laugh at the party that won four million votes at the last general election. Jean-Claude Juncker, for example. The European Union he leads would be managing one less existential crisis if Mr Farage’s popularity hadn’t frightened David Cameron into holding the Brexit referendum. And Mr Cameron would still be in No 10 if the people he once dismissed as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” hadn’t overturned British politics.

Which is true. But he fails to mention the underlying problem, namely the first-past-the-post electoral system which meant that four million voters get precisely one MP in Parliament. So the people who were enraged by a political system that seemed impervious to their concerns couldn’t register their disaffection through the normal electoral system. But they could in a referendum — and they did.

In the end, the only way to make the UK a modern functioning democracy is to change the voting system so that the distribution of MPs matches the distribution of votes. Theresa May has no plans to do that. Nor, it seems, has the Labour Party, such as it is.