This article in the Left leaning New Statesman rules out any cooperation between what are likely to be the two parties the largest number of MPs after the next election.
But for me, the quote from it that sums up all that is wrong with the British political system is this…
“If on May 8 you had a position where Labour had more seats than the Tories but not enough to form a government – but the Tories had more votes than Labour …..”
What kind of messed up political system allows for the possibility that a party that wins the most votes in an election, doesn’t get the most seats in the resultant representative body. It’s madness.
It comes about, of course, because of the nature of the “First Past the Post” system and the fact that in this country we elect a single member of parliament to represent a single constituency, to whom he or she is directly accountable to. We DO NOT vote for a party. We DO NOT vote for a Prime Minister. We vote for a person to represent our local voice in The House.
And because of that, we don’t have local electorates that are all the same size. Most of the constituencies are between fifty and seventy thousand voters in size – and while that itself seems to me like a missive difference in size, there are seats in Parliament that represent as few as twenty-one thousand and as many as one-hundred and ten thousand voters.
And the way that the system works is that for each seat, the candidate that wins the most votes—regardless of the size of his majority or, indeed, the percentage turnout of voters—wins the seat.
So even if every single voter who is able came out vote and all voted for the same candidate, you could still end up with the party with the most seats having not won the most seats.
But that’s not how things work, is it? Not everyone votes that those that do sure as hell don’t all vote for the same person.
A candidate that gets a massive majority on a high turnout in a seat with a large electorate, only gets the same number of seats, ONE, as a candidate who gets a slim majority on a tiny turnout in a seat with a much smaller electorate.
With that in mind, it’s easy to imagine a situation where over just four seats, one party could win three on small majorities of small electorates and the other only win one seat, but because it’s a large electorate and it’s won with a huge majority, that party then ends up with more overall votes than the party with those three seats.
And do you know what’s the worst thing about this? We in Britain had a chance to change it. In 2011 we had a referendum (in which less than half of the electorate voted) to change this bizarre and nonsensical system.
And we rejected it. In fact, the Tories campaigned against changing the system. So if we do end up in a situation come May as described above—I’m sorry, but David Cameron only has himself to blame when he has to move out of Downing Street.