Saturday, 2 May 2015

General Election 2015: Are the Leather Sofas in The Commons From DFS?

I continue my General Election ventings and direct my ire at the joke that is our electoral system...

The Liberal Democrats have long been in favour of Electoral Reform and have championed the change from FPTP (First Past The Post) to Proportional Representation. This was such a major issue for them and it was made one of the conditions of their participation in the current Conservative led Coalition. Cameron promised a referendum so that the public could decide and, in case you thought you blinked and missed it, promptly went back on his agreement. Typical Cameron and so very typical of the Tories as they would suffer depleted seats in Parliament if there were to be a change. So much for serving the good of the country then David, wasn't it more a case of serving whats best for your wealthy Tory pay masters and of course your own selfish career. This is my gripe with the Tories, since you asked, they claim to represent whats best for the country but, actually, what they represent is the wealthy and the lucky minority. Those who don't ever need to worry about using a FoodBank to feed their families and probably wouldn't know where to find a Job Centre much less have to endure the embarrassment of signing on. No, the Tories protect privilege and the blue bloods among our society and that does not reflect large swathes of our community. Cameron wormed out of delivering a referendum because he was terrified that the country would vote for change and, with the end of the latest Coalition thankfully drawing to a close, here is why.

The First Past The Post voting system has been used ever since there was a Parliament, so back to Cromwell then. FPTP has been used in England as it represents a cheap and quick away of electing MP's and allowing the public to pretend they are part of a democracy. With the electoral reforms of the 1800's removing the abuses of the system, it is argued that FPTP represents the fairest way for Parliament to allocate its seats and the most effective way for a Government to be voted for. The following is a typical voting outcome that we will see echoed around the country on Thursday night and Friday morning:

Candidate A (Labour) 22,000 votes
Candidate B (Conservative) 17,000 votes
Candidate C (Liberal Democrats) 13,000 votes

Clearly, with our current system Candidate A wins with a margin of 5000 votes over his nearest rival and is duly elected to Parliament. It seems fair and there is always a clear winner with no ambiguity and the risk of vote rigging drastically reduced. But hold on, look closer. If you add the votes against Candidate A you will notice that they received 30,000 votes against. That's 8000 more votes than they recieved, this means that in a particular constituency a higher proportion of the voters wanted someone else as their representative. This is the lie that FPTP covers up, it seems so fair and it seems to fairly represent our opinion. What it actually does is ignore most of our voices with the louder and largest cry drowning out everyone else. Rather than rewarding fairly every voice, dependant on how popular it is, it seeks to reward just one. Is it any wonder why most of feel ignored and especially those who don't follow,sheep like, the rhetoric of the media and the enslaving hypnotic voice of the ruling minority. If you are not one of the brain dead zombies who feed on the uninformed and manipulated sewage that spews from the government (who ever they are) then you are not represented. You are ignored, down trodden and marginalised with all attempts to box you and wall you in failing, you are a rebel element that the government want to stamp out and pretend never existed. Under FPTP you will never be recognised and because you refuse to conform to what you are told you should believe your views will never be recognised at Westminster. This isn't democracy it is an Elective Dictatorship. This is the truth that Cameron wanted to keep covered up and it is a system that only benefits two parties, the biggest ones. You will never see electoral reform on either Tory or Labour manifesto because it will lose them seats in the House of Commons, it will lose them power and influence and it will lose them money. So much for serving public interest Milliband and Cameron, all you are doing is serving yourself and your careers. If you truly wished to fairly represent the country we would already have a system of Proportional Representation. If you were really interested in what was best for the country you wouldn't have cancelled the referendum that would have asked all voters how we want to elect OUR, yes our, representatives. Self interested and bloated with your own self importance you need to remember that things change and that we, the people, are not as stupid as you pretend.

So, why Proportional Representation? Why would this be any better and how would it be a fairer alternative to the current system? With PR, the number of seats in Parliament would be directly linked to the percentage of the electorate that vote for them. This means that smaller parties will be represented, but represented proportionally. It also allows for changes in public feeling and therefore would mean that a sitting government has a far higher responsibility to the voting public. Lie and mislead and you will almost certainly see your numbers reduce in the next election. No more sitting comfortably at the top of the food chain Milliband and Cameron, you would no longer be safe and you would be more at risk from attack. No wonder they don't want any change! PR also encourages higher numbers of the voting public to vote as there are no wasted votes. Currently, voting for a party that has no chance in garnering sufficient votes to be "First Past The Post" is seen as a wasted vote. PR allows your vote to count and allows you to vote on the issues that you care about without feeling like you have to opt for the lesser of two evils (arguably Labour in this case)

The huge irony with the current coalition is that they have effectively removed the only valid argument against Proportional Representation, just by existing. The biggest concern was that by giving more seats to smaller parties the system effectively makes "king makers" with the smaller parties vying for subsidy and concession in return for their seats in the house. Exactly like the Liberal Democrats did in order to give the Conservatives a ruling majority. This unelected governing mess, made of two parties, pleases no one. Those that didn't vote for Cameron and the Tories ended up with them anyway and those that wanted to avoid creepy Clegg and his Car Salesman brand of politics didn't fair well either. Unelected and unwanted the coalition hangs around like a bad smell created by a diet of over cooked sprouts. Yet FPTP continues and is likely to continue because the two parties that control Parliament are best served by its existence. Don't be fooled by the Cameron and Milliband rhetoric and fake, plastic smiles. They seem friend of everyman but once voting has been finalised they will return to their leather sofas and expensive cigars as part of the old boy network that they undoubtedly are. They need you right now but you don't need them, walk through town and you cant move for some MP trying to squeeze your hand and relieve you of your vote. They represent your views as effectively as a tea leaf knows the origins of the East India Company. PR wont happen because if it was ever introduced we would stand more of a chance in being the democracy that Cameron, Clegg and Milliband pretend we are. They don't want that, no way do they want that, because the power of the unfettered and unbound mind is a truly profound and awesome force. When we think what we want, not controlled by the fetid ruling clots who flounce about in the Halls of the Mighty we are truly living. Don't let them tell you what to think and certainly don't let them tell you how to vote. Vote for whom you want and if you see someone hounding you for your vote outside of the polling booth on Thursday tell them to do something very rude and tell em I sent you!

David Martin is a firm believer in wider reading but also spends his time watching horror films and going to the theatre. He has been known to venture outside but prefers worlds he can imagine. Follow him on Twitter at @ventspleen2014


  1. The only problem I see with PR is you could end up with the issue America faces more often than not which is that yes a fair amount of differing MPs are elected but when it comes to lawmaking you end up with a lame duck as you don't have a majority of votes in the house to push a law through which risks things staying as they are anyway. Neither system is perfect and I'm not smart enough to come up with a new system, but you're right that something has to change

  2. good point but it would also remove the wasted vote argument which is the cause of so much apathy amongst the electorate. Lets face it, it cant be any worse than it is now