A December General Election to settle BREXIT?

- using our antiquated First-past-the-post voting system?

- and with 4 parties in contention?

You might as well throw dice!

 

 

There is no greater gamble on earth than a British general election"
James Middleton, Secretary of the Labour Party 1936

 

 

 

If you think a general election is going to solve the current political crisis, you had better think again.

 

Our ancient voting system, known as “First-past-the-post”, could make things a lot worse. 

 

After all, it was the result of the last general election that cost Theresa May her majority in the House of Commons two years ago when First-past-the-post awarded her 13 fewer seats even though she polled over 2 million more votes!

 

The way our voting system operates, it is quite usual for an MP to be elected on a minority of the votes cast; in 2017, Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake was elected MP for Ceredigion on just 29% of the vote.

 

Because of this, it is possible for a party to win the most seats nationwide with a minority of the vote. It is also possible for a party to poll the most votes but lose the election, as happened in 1951 at a time when there were only 2 parties in contention. When more parties join the fray, First-past-the-post can malfunction quite spectacularly.

 

On December 12th, Labour, LibDem,Green, Brexit, Conservative and numerous minor party candidates will all be jostling for victory across 650 constituencies. Anything could happen. You could have a majority government elected on just 26% of the poll or a Parliament split 4 or more ways, requiring a multi-party coalition. Take a look at the last four general election results, with some of the major mismatches highlighted:-

 

 

Main UK Parties

% Votes and Seats

2005

2010

2015

2017

Votes

Seats

Votes

Seats

Votes

Seats

Votes

Seats

Conservative

32.3

30.6

36.1

47.2

36.9

50.9

42.4

48.9

Labour

35.3

55.1

29.0

39.7

30.4

35.7

40.0

40.3

Liberal Democrat

22.1

9.6

23.0

8.8

7.9

1.2

7.4

1.8

UKIP

2.2

0

3.1

0

12.6

0.1

1.8

0

Green

1.0

0

1.0

0.1

3.8

0.1

1.6

0.1

 

Note in particular how our outdated voting system gave Labour 55% of the seats and absolute power with just 35% of the vote in 2005 and how, ten years later, the Conservatives were able to form a majority government on just under 37% of the vote.

 

And that's just the half of it: First-past-the-post wastes a phenomenal number of votes: 44% of all the votes cast in the 2017 General Election were for losing candidates and a further 24% cast were surplus to the winners' requirements, which means our voting system was only 32% efficient. In the 2015 election, this efficiency rating was even worse, at 26%.

 

There is no rhyme or reason to First-past-the-post. You might as well throw dice. But why is this, exactly? This website endeavours to take you through the mechanical deficiencies of First-past-the-post and show how a new way of voting would uprate the efficiency of our voting apparatus.

 

 

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© David Green