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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Electoral reform, wishful thinking and informed decision making

A guest post by Joan Grant, a member of KUWG expressing personal views. Internet search-term-friendly title by Dude Swheatie. Joan's original title appears below

Be careful what you wish for, or Nigel was right

I thought it was ironic that both Nigel Farage and Natalie Bennett were “pissed off” for want of a better word, by the election result. They made strange bed fellows calling for reform of the electoral system. One has to say that Farage had more to moan about than Bennett. UKIP got 4 million votes and yet just one MP. [Editor's note: The electoral system under which the UK currently operates as it has done for centuries is generally known as 'first past the post'.]

The Electoral Reform Societyi have produced a very interesting report which shows how many seats each party would have got had the election been held under a proportional representation scheme.(1) There are a number of different versions of PR. The report looked at them all. Their preferred system is the Single Transferrable Vote system.

Had the election been held under this system, the result would have been the hung parliament that all the polls predicted. The Tories would still be the biggest party but with 276 seats as opposed to the 331 they have got. Labour would be about the same but it only have 40 fewer seats rather than 99, which it is now.

The Lib Dem would have got 26 seats rather than a mere 8. That would have been fairly respectable and Nick Clegg might well have stayed on as party leader. The SNP would have done well, but not as well. They would have got 34 seats.
The Greens would have got 3 seats which better reflects the overall support that they got.

But it is UKIP who would have been the biggest winners. They would have got 54 seats. Yes, you read that right. 54 seats. I think it is fair to say that would have been a quite astonishing result. That would have been the earthquake that Nigel Farage keeps harping on about.

UKIP would have held the balance of power. There would have been a coalition. Nigel Farage would now be Deputy Prime Minister. There might be two or three UKIP ministers.
I am really not sure which is worse: an electoral system that does not properly reflect the votes cast or the thought of Nigel Farage as Deputy Prime Minister. Whichever way you cut it, Nigel Farage was right about the level of support for UKIP. Only time will tell if their support will rise or fall over the next few years.


i The 2015 General Election, A voting system in Crisis by jess Garland and Chris Terry. May 2015 (Electoral Reform Society)

1 comment:

  1. A problem with going by numbers of actual votes is that it does not recognise the phenomenon of tactical voting and how the dread of a further five years of Conservate rule turned would-have-been Green Party voters into voting and even canvassing for the Labour Party. (I 'declare an interest' here in that I have been a Green Party member for nearly ten years now.)

    Other problems include the amount of BBC coverage given to spelling out what the parties had to say in their policies. One interpretation of the amount of BBC coverage UKIP got as opposed to what the Green Party got was that 'good television' does not necessarily mean spelling out what the parties have to say and can be dominated by 'personality politics.

    And what about those too pissed off to even register to vote?

    Dude Swheatie