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’.