Friday, 7 May 2010

The UK badly needs electoral reform

As I write, 612 out of 650 constituancies have been declared, and it looks like the Tories are going to just fall short of a majority.

The results also show a deep inequality in votes cast for each seat.

Nationally, there are about 2.2 seats per 100,000 votes (or each seat is 45,000 votes on average, if you prefer), but some parties were able to gain considerably more than this. The Democratic Unionist Party won 4.76 seats per 100,000 votes. Labour and the Tories came in at 3.02 and 2.86 respectively.

As a result of this proportional representation would cost the Tories 68 seats and Labour 67.

At the other end of the scale some parties did quite badly out of First Past The Post. Four parties gained more than 45,000 votes but no seats. While I disagree with the politics of these parties (half a million people voted BNP. Really?) the principle that votes = representation must override the knee jerk reaction saying that any system keeping the BNP and UKIP out of parliament is worth the price.

It isn't worth it. Democratic principles are more important than political ones.

The really big winners of proportional representation would be the Lib Dems, who got 22% of the vote to win 8% of the seats. Out of parties who got seats, the Lib Dems were made to work second hardest with 0.8 seats per 100,000 votes. Green Party are next with 1 seat for their 264,000 votes (0.38 seats per 100,000 votes).

Clearly there are massive inequalities. 1.8 million people cast votes for parties which didn't win a seat, yet those votes should be worth around 41 seats. Why is a vote for Labour 8 times more valuable than a vote for Green.

To whoever gets in power, we need electoral reform, and we need it soon.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The upcoming UK election: why I'm voting Lib Dem

For the first time since I was born, it seems the Lib Dems are actually in with a shot of getting hold of some proper power.

Here's why I'm voting for them: it's between Labour and Lib Dems in my constituency and I really don't want to see labour get in for a fourth term. Governments are like nappies: they need to be changed regularly and for the same reason.

I'm sick of broken promises and a total attitude of don't-give-a-fuck-what-the-electorate-thinks regarding war in Iraq, ID Cards, 40 day detention, etc... I also believe Labour's policies regarding crime are totally counter-productive.

By making more and more things an imprisonable offence in an effort to appear tough on crime, they're actually filling up jails with people who don't need to be there, meaning people guilty of violent crimes are given a slap on the wrist.

Lib dems want to increase the use of community service terms, which are shown to reduce re-offending rates (unlike prison, which increases them). They have also expressed a commitment to support science funding, which I like. They also say they'll reduce to the curriculum and afford teachers more decision making in what they actually teach.

Their commitment to electoral reform also rings well with me, as I believe first past the post to be inherently unfair. Lib Dems are the only party to acknowledge that immigration can be a good thing.

The Lib Dems also came out pretty well from the expenses scandal; the most anyone could pin on them, it seems, is an egregious packet of Hobnobs. Finally, regarding the economy, it is common opinion (although I don't have the expertise to judge) that Vince Cable is the most competent treasurer.

I realise I have pretty much ignored the Tories here. This is for two reasons: 1. as I said nera the start, they're way behind on votes in my area, and 2. a hard cap on immigration, are you fucking mad, Mr. Cameron? 3. The most egregious piss takers in the expenses scandal. 4. I just don't trust them.

So there you are: get out there on May 6th, and vote yellow.