Have any of us actually learned anything from the results of the General Election? There is much talk of who has won, and who has lost. It does seems like there will be a load of introspection and reflection amongst Labour and the LibDems who in their own ways suffered devastating defeats in the early hours of Friday morning. For those voters who voted for UKIP and the Greens, however, there is probably a fair amount of confusion, if not utter dis. And for those who voted Conservative, Green, UKIP and LibDem in Scotland & Wales, you too probably feel pretty confused also. Put simply, votes don’t match seats, they never have and never will, unless of course there is reform to the system.
The raw data is fascinating. And data never lies.
In the UK as a whole the Conservatives had 11,334,920 votes for them, namely 36.9% of the total votes cast. Labour were almost 2 million votes behind, which is a huge margin, with 9,347,326, representing 30.4% of the total votes cast. The 3rd biggest party was UKIP who recorded 3,881, 129 votes, i.e 12.6% of the votes cast. UKIP also got more votes in Scotland than the Greens – 47,078 vs 39,205, and in Northern Ireland 18.324 vs 6,822. In Wales 204,360 voted UKIP more than Plaid Cymru who got 181.694, the LibDems 97,383 and the Greens with 38,344. For all the date see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results
All of these voters voting for UKIP and yet they only got 1 seat in the House of Commons? How can this be right in a modern democracy? Maybe the word ‘modern’ is a little misplaced?
Well we are told that the electoral system we have, called First Past The Post (FPTP), delivers strong government and therefore it is the right system for the United Kingdom. That is certainly debateable, but if we want a democracy to represent and importantly include the people, we need a system that actually represents those who cast their vote. In so many constituencies, unless you vote for the incumbent MP, your vote will be wasted.
If you live in an inner city in England, good luck voting Conservative, Labour always get in. Similarly, if you live in the suburban and rural South or South West, if you vote Labour it will make no difference. Millions of votes are in effect wasted. That is why the 2 big parties focus on these so called ‘marginals’. Those ‘marginals’ decide which colour of Government sitting in Parliament we actually get. So the system gets even more undemocratic and unrepresentative. Indeed, many MPs can be elected without being the majority candidate in their seat!
One of the key reasons why so many people voted in the Scottish Referendum, 84.5% of voters turned out to vote, versus 66.1% in this General Election, was because their vote actually counted.
Right now, I believe we have a divided Britain, where whole parts of the country feel totally unrepresented despite having real support. The General Election result has actually made things worse.
Put simply, based on the proportions of votes cast, we would be looking at a Parliament made up of the following.
Conservatives = 240 seats (versus 331 seats now)
Labour = 198 seats (versus 232 seats now)
UKIP = 82 seats (versus 1 seat now)
LibDems – 51 seats (versus 8 seats now)
SNP = 30 seats (versus 56 seats now)
Greens – 24 seats (versus 1 seat now)
And then to each of Plaid Cymru in Wales, Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland would get 4 seats. The rest would be made up of all the really small parties.
From that Parliamentary make up, it would be up to the parties to try and form a Government. This is the tricky bit and it would have to be a coalition of parties of course, as no one party would command over half (i.e 326) seats to make absolutely certain that they could form a Government of one colour.
But fear not, there will be reform to the system and it is coming in 2018. It is called boundary changes, something that is called for variously by Labour or the latterly the Conservatives, in order to retain the status quo. They both know the current system is unfair, undemocratic and unrepresentative of the votes cast. But they just don’t care enough to call for review and reform. Have a look at Owen Patterson who was interview today, around 5 mins 20 secs in. He believes passionately in electoral reform, just not really the reform many voters actually need.
So what is the real lesson learnt from this election? Same as it ever was, voting for so many people has proven to be fruitless and a waste of time. Unless you vote Conservative or Labour, you won’t get heard. Unless of course if you live in Scotland, where the SNP have ‘won’ this election.
So there you have it. Don’t bother voting Green, unless you live in Brighton, or UKIP, the system laughs in your face. Be a good citizen and decide if you want to go red or blue, Labour or Conservative, because they really are the only choices. As both leaders told us so many times, you only have 2 choices of who will be Prime Minister. At least we got David Cameron, I suppose.