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.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on, Arkady.

    And it might be even worse, as many people will have voted tactically - which would not be necessary with PR.

    I posted something about the sort of PR system I think we should have at