Boy oh boy, Baroness Warsi has made some right old ricketts in her day, but if you are at all confused about the whole Alternative Vote (AV) Referendum this week, invest afew minutes of your time and watch this video. This is absolutley brilliant, and lurches between comedy, pathos and bathos. If we were voting for speaking loudly, trying to make pre-briefed points no matter what the question and not simply not listening, this lady who serves in the Cabinet would get my vote anyday. Except of course, she is a non voted for member of the Cabinet ‘passionately supporting our current voting system. The First Past the Post (FPTP) system has not put her in government, but I am sure if she was in charge of the #N2AV campaign, she would allege AV would give us ‘losers’ in positions of power. You have to laugh.
Daily Archives: May 1, 2011
I have just been looking up the voting percentage splits from previous elections over the last 30 years in the UK and it seeems that there is a recurring theme here:-
1979 the results of the three main parties were:
Conservatives, 43.9% of the vote, 339 seats
Labour, 36.9% of the vote, 269 seats
Liberals, 13.8% of the vote, 11 seats.
Conservatives, 42.4% of the vote, 397 seats
Labour, 27.6% of the vote, 209 seats
SDP/Liberal Alliance, 25.4% of the vote, 23 seats
Conservatives, 42.2% of the vote, 376 seats
Labour, 30.8% of the vote, 229 seats
Alliance (now LibDems) , 22.6% of the vote, 22 seats
Conservatives, 41.9% of the vote, 336 seats
Labour, 34.4% of the vote, 271 seats
Liberal Democrats, 17.8% of the vote, 20 seats.
Labour, 43.2% of the vote, 418 seats
Conservatives, 30.7% of the vote, 165 seats
Liberal Democrats, 16.8% of the vote, 46 seats
So, without any real argument, our First Past the Post (FPTP) system allows a majority (and therefore ‘strong and decisive) government with minority votes – no more than 43.9% of the voters ever voted for the government in the last 30 years!
So, imagine yourselves in a real life situation, where ten of you are in a meeting, maybe at work, at your school, in your local community. After some debate, you take a vote and under half of those in attendance, those who have taken part, those with arguments win the day. Would the other 6 really stand for that? Of course not. There would be further debate until agreement was made which allowed the majority to feel empowered and to feel that their opinions actually count. That is real life.
If there is any doubt, would we countenance any judicial system, and crucially trial by jury, that did not rely on a majority call? Of course we wouldn’t. AV is not that system, but it feels like FPTP is really not that fair, even if it may be a ‘simple’ system that is ‘easy to understand’.
I came across this blog yesterday, written incidentally by a man I met many years ago when he worked in the video games industry. I actually thought this was pretty interesting given it was written not only by a Conservative, but a Conservative who actually works in public service as a Conservative, Mr Andrew Boff. I would encourage you to read the blog and also then cast your eyes down the comment section – the visceral ire is pretty unmistakeable, no surprise there though, given that internet trolls seem to be everywhere nowadays!
Anyway, if you have a moment, have a read of his blog http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/04/andrew-boff-our-electoral-system-is-broke-fix-it.html
It does feel sort of mad that we have a system which sends 440 of the 650 MPs to Parliament without the majority support of their electorates. I mean that just does not seem right, or am I missing something?
Add to this some very simple statistics about the 2005 General Election, where the Labour party won by a landslide using the First Past The Post (FPTP) system :-
Labour won 356 of the seats in Parliament – a majority of seats ie 55.2% , but won with only 35.3% of the votes cast.
Conservative won 198 seats in Parliament ie 30.7% of the seats, but actually recorded 32.3% of the votes cast – only 3% less than Labour but 24.5% less seats!
The Liberal Democrats polled 22.1% of the votes (i.e 10.2% less than Conservative and 13.2% less than Labour) but only won 62 seats, i.e 9.2% of those available.
It looks to me that our voting system, unlike our country, is broken, or certainly does not work. The Alternative Vote (AV) is not going to fix that system however. Indeed, some will argue that it will only help more coalitions come into play and therefore it will be impossible to vote a single party (often branded ‘strong’ and ‘principled ‘) government out. That could well be the case, but it does rather suggest that the people of the UK or either Labour or Conservative voters and everyone else will not get a look in. Surely the 20th century showed that a cycle of Conservative and Labour governments was not great for our nation. Swinging left to right seems like such a waste of energy after all. Can we simply not take a straight path, dealing with issues rather than party politics? The days of empire are over and the repression of the working classes feels less today than it was perhaps in the first half of the 20th century. May be now is the time to embrace change, in a particularly British way – not too radical, not too fast and certainly not revolutionary. #Yes2AV is a small change so does this make it right?
More research and more reading needed on this issue for me. Next up I want to see what the politicians say, so off to YouTube to see what I can find.