Electoral Reform The Case For Modifying First Past The Post
The current political impasse following a General Election that returned a Hung Parliament has brought the first past the post system used in Britain a lot of criticsm.
The Lib Dems and the SDP before them have long had electoral reform on the political agenda because they have an uphill struggle, even more of an uphill struggle than the Conservatives because the first past the post is weighted heavily in favour of Labour.
It takes 15,000 votes to elect a Labour MP and 20,000 to elect a Conservative MP because of the boundaries of the constituencies, Labour have a lot of small constituencies in cities which is why they got a landslide in 1997, yet the Conservatives with same number of votes cast in 2010 failed to get a majority, becuase their seats cover a larger geographical area.
One of the popular mistruths doing the rounds at the moment is that people voted for a Hung Parliament, no they did not. Some people did vote tactically but the level of organisation required to actively achieve a Hung Parliament is beyond immigination, and all in 4 weeks and without a nationally orchestrated campaign, it does not seem very likely.
The Hung Parliament happend because of random chance and the relationship between the number of votes needed to elect a Labour MP and the number of votes needed to elect a Conservative MP.
The political dealings behind closed doors as polticians seek to form alliances that benefit the political parties first are a common feature of Proportional Represention electoral systems.
One of the PR options being discussed involves voting for candidates in order of preference, which means you could end up voting for a party you dont support.
Under the system being proposed by the Lib Dems this is just what would happen, you vote Conservative and you end up voting in a MP from another party. How this is supposed to further democrarcy beats the crap out of Aardvark, who would no more vote Labour than stick his face in a fan. Faced with a situation like that how many other people from all parties would decide not to vote rather than cast a vote for the “enemy”?
All the PR systems are also more complex to administer which means also more easily abused that first past the post.
Britain needs electoral reform and decisive government, first past the post could easily deliver this if the number of constituencies were reduced by 10% and the boundaries redrawn so that it takes the same number of votes to elect an MP from any political party.