Friday, 23 May 2014
Now is the time to change the Westminster voting system
Labour winning in Hammersmith, but losing in Thurrock. The Lib Dems being hammered, but holding onto councils where they have MP's. UKIP broadly successful but not doing well in Eastleigh, one of their top target seats. The Tories too, losing overall in some funny places but gaining in Wigan.
All of this is explained by the First-Past-the-Post voting system. it is a great system for a 2 party election as it ensures solid government, even without majority voting from the people. However, now that UKIP are establishing themselves alongside the Lib Dems as the protest vote party, it causes some very odd results.
After all in 4 way split FPTP votes you can be elected with 26% of the vote - no doubt this is actually happening somewhere in the Country. UKIP, for whom I voted, are really splitting the opposition votes and picking up votes from all the other parties. Overall this is a good thing, as the Great Recession showed us that the two main parties have broadly the same policies which can lead us to disaster. Greater choice should be a good thing.
However, the voting system of FPTP falls apart. Next year we could see Ed Milliband and Labour elected with a majority government with about 34% of the vote, if UKIP performs strongly, maybe even 33%. Given turnout will be around 60% that could mean a Labour Government for whom just 1-in-5 voted for. With that level of democratic deficit, the Government could claim little real mandate to rule and govern.
In 2011 I was against the AV referendum, on the basis we had more important worries then, in 2014, the situation has changed as many of these have been finally addressed. the UK is already facing radical change with the Scottish referendum vote - the next few years it seems will be all about the politics of governance.