05 May 2010

Tories Propose To Make Our Voting System Even More Unfair

Abolishing 10% of MPs sounds great until you realise that under first-past-the-post, the bigger the constituencies, the more disproportional the result. A simple way od demonstrating this is to look at the 22,000 councillors elected in England and Wales using the fptp system. Around 40% are Tories, 20% Labour, 20% Lib Dem and 20% others, which is actually pretty reflective of the percentage of the vote they received. However in the 650 constituencies that make up the Westminster fptp system, the Lib Dems could top the poll with 34% and get half the seats of Labour on 27%. An absolutely absurd result which would be great for us reformers if it actually happened in this general election. Unfortunately, the tabloids have managed to scrape the Tories back in the lead again and the shit they have thrown at the Lib Dems seems to have worked in lowering Lib Dem support.

If the electoral system were ever changed in this country, it would go to a referendum for the people to have their say. But Cameron and the Tories can slash 10% of constituencies, radically alter the boundaries in their favour - thus radically altering the result without so much as a big debate about this massive change. The Tories are getting away with maintaining an unfair electoral system - they are going to make it even more unfair and MPs eve more remote from their constituents.

How many constituents is right for our MPs? In Ireland they have around 20,000 which allows MPs to personally speak to most of their voters. In 1945, the UK had an MP for every 50,000. With the growth in our population this has grown to 65,000 and we would need 900 MPs to get back to the 1945 ratio. But Cameron wants to have just 585 MPs representing 80,000 constituents each. This is bound to make an MP even more remote. If the constituency link is to have any credence as a desirable feature, it has to be possible for constituents to easily access their MP and vice versa. But Cameron's plans are even worse than that. Cameron wants to keep updating the boundaries and change them to such a radical extent that it will be impossible for a constituent to know who represents them. Currently most voters cannot name their MP, do not vote for their MP and live in safe seats anyway, so are unlikely to ever be able to affect the result. But under Cameron's plans they are unlikely to even be able to re-elect an MP since it is likely they will have been moved into another constituency. This makes a mockery of even the unfair system we have.

We are destined for another election in the next 18 months or even less. If there are changes to the way this election is run, let us have a referendum, and lets have progressive proposals that give us a more proportional result, not a more unfair and disproportionate result just to benefit the Tories and changes where we are not properly consulted in a referendum. The Tories are a disgrace. Vote tactically if you want to stop them.

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