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Friday, May 06, 2005

"The electoral system seriously sucks"

In commenting on this post, Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett, has a very valid point. He has expanded on it on his own blog. The fact is that Labour won 35.2% of the vote, amounting to just 21% of the 44 million people eligible to vote, and yet Tony Blair now commands 55% of the seats in the House of Commons.

The Tories, who are only 2.8% behind, have fewer seats than the number won in 1983 by Michael Foot and the Labour Party, in one of the most disastrous results ever experienced by modern Labour. They have failed to break through the 200 seat barrier.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats received just under two thirds of the vote share of Labour and the Tories and yet they have less than a third of the number of MPs won by the latter and 17.5% of Labour's total. As the Guardian says, "For the first time, a majority government in Britain has been elected by fewer people than those who could not be bothered to vote. Labour’s 36% share of the vote was lower than the 39% of the electorate who didn’t make it to the polling station." On last night’s results a Labour MP only needed 26,858 votes to get elected, compared with 44,241 votes for a Tory MP, and a staggering 98,484 for each Liberal Democrat MP.

It is because of the distorted nature of this winner-takes-all system that Blair was able to make the outrageous and untrue claim that a vote for the Liberal Democrats will let in the Tories. As was proved by the outcome, even a close run thing in terms of the popular vote, left Howard floundering way behind.

As Andrew says, it is astonishing that more people are not commenting and protesting about this travesty. The British electoral system is very poorly indeed.

N.B. If you think this post is an argument for proportional representation then you would be right. However, it is vital that any replacement system of voting is properly proportional and retains a constituency link. The Welsh Assembly system conspicuously fails to do this as is illustrated by the fact that Labour won half the seats with less than 40% of the vote in 2003.
Comments:
Can I direct your attention here?
 
Good. Look forward to reading the replies.
 
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