Let me ask you this. If the Conservative and Labour parties are so diametrically opposed, how can anyone vote for one of those parties, and later on vote for the other? Could it really be true that people in the United Kingdom are so fickle that they change from being in favour of the business classes to having a preference for those who represent the working classes? I find it very difficult to believe that people who were lifelong Labour supporters could change their minds so completely that they then believed in the values and policies of the Tory Party. Unless of course, they felt that they really only had two choices, from either end of the political spectrum, and wanted a change from the current government.
This would go a long way to explaining why the government of the UK swings like a metronome between these two extremes, yet still claims to represent the entire nation. It can’t possibly be true that the whole nation has such a significant change of heart at every election for the last 100 years. Well, we know that most people remain loyal to the same party their whole lives, and that the largest ever swing of actual voting was the 10.2% achieved by Tony Blair’s Labour Party in 1997. Normally it takes no more than a 6% swing for either of the big two to win a sizeable majority of MP’s. Additionally, we also know that only a very few constituencies are susceptible to a change of MP at all. So even a huge swing in my Glasgow South constituency will not unseat my MP, Tom Harris. In fact only around one-third of constituencies could be described as marginal; that is to say they have an FPTP majority of less than 5,000 votes. This is why the potential swing voters in these constituencies are highly targeted at election time, as they hold the key to winning any kind of parliamentary majority. Look at the image at the top of this page. When such a small number of votes can be vital to the result, why do we tolerate a system that disregards the electorate in such a perverse way?
I’ve now mentioned the FPTP acronym, so you’ll guess that I’m about to go on about the upcoming referendum on switching to AV. All of the above circumstances apply to this now outdated system. The main reason it is outdated, is because UK elections are no longer two-horse races, otherwise there could be stronger arguments for retaining it. Those who claim anything but the “FPTP” system would lead to more coalitions are forgetting that coalitions simply could not exist in the solidly two-party system we’ve had for the last century. The truth is that three more popular parties make coalitions, not the system. If we really want FPTP to work at all, then we really have to force people to choose between only two parties. Yes, the very same diametrically opposed parties I spoke of at the beginning of this article. Is that what you want? I know I don’t.
In the 2010 General Election the percentage of votes were as follows:
Conservative 36% (47% seats)
Labour 29% (40% seats)
Lib-Dems 23% (9% seats)
Regardless of whether the Lib-Dems get creamed at the next election, it is clear that the public has decided that we no-longer have a 2 party system. So why have a voting system that denies the wishes of the UK electorate?
PS. AV is only a very small change to the current system, but a vital one nonetheless. All it does is set the Post, in “First Past The Post”, at the 50% mark. That seems more than fair, and how it should always have been.
PPS. If you like this article, you may like this too. http://goo.gl/SB3d7