Monday, 11 May 2015

Apportioning Blame – and Votes

The predictable 'votes-to-seats' argument about our supposedly 'broken' (i.e. inconvenient to some) electoral system has started in earnest. Many are again blaming our so-called 'first past the post' system for lots of votes resulting in no seats, yet all went into the elections – both candidates (and their parties) and voters – in full knowledge of how the system worked..

Regular readers here will recall that I took one of my occasional looks at this topic less than three months ago – but what I mooted then, and devised earlier in the decade, wouldn't suit those with vested interests in manipulating our electoral methodology to benefit those they support – which is their real aim.

Firstly, this (now mainly UKIPper) complaint that the party got nearly four million votes but only one parliamentary seat is based on a false premise. All subsequent analysis is undoubtedly pointing toward the following...

The only reasons they had that many votes, and distributed as they were, can be boiled down to (a) they spread themselves too thinly by trying to look impressive and important by fielding too many candidates (running before they could walk); and (b) much of that voting was tactical and was because of the present electoral system. Under a different methodology they'd have gained only a fraction of the number of votes.

This is one power that the electorate has over 'the establishment' (as the in-vogue terminology puts it) – we can vote tactically if we choose. Some are in favour of this in particular circumstances, others advise against it; but we can still decide for ourselves. The north of England results show this very clearly: they aren't interested in having UKIP Members of Parliament (obviously) but they were and are very interested in sending Labour a close shot across the bows to sharpen up its act, and get a decent leader in particular.

They are getting at least part of their wish, probably all of it in time.

This nation of ours already, quite recently, rejected – in a referendum – a change to even a 'half-way house' Alternative Vote system. I was pleased, because it (like other supposedly but not really 'proportional' methodologies) gives the possibility of some electors having two (or more, in other systems) bites of the cherry – those who voted for the losers at that.

Obviously, right from the basics, that is a dishonest way to fiddle a result so that a non-winner can – and often does in places that work with such systems – 'beat' the actual winner. The sales pitch is that this produces an 'overall majority' or words to the same effect; but it's a lie, and often results in an unwanted (by the majority) 'winner'.

If we wish to maintain integrity we either stick with the present method, or we change to something along the lines of what I proposed years ago and revisited back in February in my above-linked post. The latter would be quite a shake-up in how our parliamentary democracy functions in the country, but is a twenty-first century solution to many if not all the most significant issues people have with our present way of doing it.

Nothing that anyone else either does or is proposing comes anywhere near that.

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