First past the post is ruthless and condemning voters who split their vote amongst parties with perceived similar ideologies, to continually wasting their vote and leaving their parties in permanent opposition.
Most people (around 60%) consider themselves left-of centre. They vote for policies that are left-of-centre, they want to see a left-of-centre government.
First-past-the-post invariably delivers them a Tory government full of hard-right Thatcherites or a weak centrist Labour government.
It can allow a right-wing party opposed by 60% or more of the populace to remain in power for decades. In short, it is hopeless at representing what people actually want.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the upcoming by-elections in Norwich-North and Goldsmid ward here in Hove, East Sussex, both being held on 23rd July.
The Greens have a great chance of winning here in Goldsmid and should take around 15% of the vote in Norwich North. However the Tories could win both seats on less than a third of the vote. Because the left are significantly split between Labour, Green and Lib Dem, they can win upwards of 70% of the vote between them and still end up with nothing.
The Lib Dems have a curious mix of voters - disaffected soft Tories and left-of Labour supporters. Lib Dems lose out heavily when the Greens do well, which is why the Lib Dems are campaigning hard here in Goldsmid and Norwich despite having no chance of winning either. They have to prevent the Greens becoming a strong force, or as shown in Brighton they are quickly replaced by them.
If the Greens win here in Goldsmid they will have 13 councilors in Brighton and Hove, the same as Labour. On the cusp of a Caroline Lucas win in Brighton Pavilion next year to bring them their first MP, in 2011 they could easily take the other 2 seats in Goldsmid (1 Labour and 1 Tory) and threaten the Lib Dems 2 seats in neighbouring Brunswick and Adelaide - hence the Lib Dems frightened campaign here in Goldsmid.
The 2 Tory councillors in Central Hove could also fall to the Greens and they could grab 2 more seats in Preston Park off Labour to add to the one they already have there. This would give the Greens a total of 21 seats, the Tories 22 and Labour just 10 with the Lib Dems wiped out and just one (Tory) Independent. Labour would still have their traditional working class strongholds in East Brighton and Hollingbury and Stanmer and also seats in Portslade and Moulsecomb and Bevendean. The Tories would remain overwhelmingly strong in the outer suburbs of Brighton and Hove but with no seats in the central areas.
Scandalously Labour's weakened hold on its traditional strongholds could let the Tories gain more seats in areas they should have no chance. The Tories managed to beat Lis Telcs in Moulsecomb and Bevendean in a truly terrible result for Labour in what should be a safe seat. Why the Labour leadership think that Lis is the right candidate for Goldsmid is beyond me.
So, the future looks bright for the Greens here in Brighton and Hove. In Norwich North their 15% vote sadly will probably mean another Tory is elected.
The Greens do well in middle class bohemian urban areas - this means that nationally in the next 20 years or so, they could have 3 MPs in Brighton and Hove and maybe a few more in Bristol, Norwich, Lewisham, Oxford, Cambridge and Leeds. So maybe 10 or so at most MPs out of 650. That is the best that they could achieve without breaking into Labour working class strongholds. Labour will continue to have 200 or so seats even if their vote collapses in the aftermath of the Brown debacle - which it could well do.
The Lib Dems are on a path of slow decline under Nick Clegg - they will lose seats to the Tories and probably have around 40 seats after the next election - a drop of 24 seats.
With the new electoral geography and reduced number of seats that the Tories are proposing with their fiddling of the boundaries, it is not inconceivable this could keep the Tories in power for 3 terms even if their vote drops below 35%.
In short, the future looks fairly bleak for those of us on the left in the next few decades, even though we may have the support of nearly 65% of the population. Democracy eh?