We are living in an illusion of democracy. Only part of the battle was won when the vote was extended to everyone over 18. We may have won a vote, but not an equal vote. Under our present system most votes count for little.
Alex Hilton at Labourhome points out that 500 out of 646 MPs in the house can sleep soundly knowing their job is fairly safe despite the expenses profligacy. With de-selections rare, as long as an MP goes through the motions and doesn't upset the party leadership they are safe virtually no matter what they do. Alex makes the argument that this is the perfect time for Labour to offer electoral reform and I agree.
Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling tackles another big fallacy - that MPs are paid too little. At 65k they are in top 3% of earners. If you pay your spouse 30k or more for research as some MPs do, and then add in expenses and they then live in a household in the top 1%. If they can't live on this, how do they expect the average earner to live on 23k?
Even in the landslide election of 1997 only about 150 MPs out of 659 were replaced - about 15%. Crucially it is the same 15% of constituencies - the marginals that change. Because of this most MPs have jobs for life if they want it because voters continue to vote for parties not the person.
Only more choice and more competition will deliver better MPs. That means proportional representation. Without it, the biggest section of the electorate, the non-voters which is bigger than any party support will continue to grow. PR will not solve everything, but giving people more choice will increase turnout.
And for the rest, whether apathetic or alienated, non-voters are currently being ignored and safe seats discourage their turnout. But these non-voters are not saying they want to be ignored, they just don't like the options put in front of them. Maybe this 40% should be represented by people drawn by lot, only then would non-voters be courted and their views properly considered by MPs fearing losing their jobs.