News: Update

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Friday 8th May 2015 1:53 PM

After watching the electorate be frightened into voting for the wolf, maybe the following piece from a Newsnight political editor is worth a quick read.

Nearly 4 million votes, a national share of around 12%, might seem like a pretty good night for a small political party. You can understand the outrage then, as UKIP wakes up this morning to find it has been rewarded for its efforts with just one seat in the House of Commons.

To rub salt in the wounds, in Scotland the SNP took 56 seats with just 1.5 million votes. The Greens might have cause to feel similarly aggrieved, with their highest ever share of the vote (around 1 million people) landing them just one seat in Westminster.

On those numbers, the case for electoral reform might seem pressing. How can it be fair that so many votes across the country yielded such disproportionate results for the smaller parties?

But here’s the thing. Before this election we were told that First Past the Post, the system the UK uses for elections to Parliament, had reached its sell-by date.

Its main purpose was decisive election results leading to strong, decisive governments. In a new multi-party system, where all the evidence indicated a second hung parliament in a row, it had ceased to function as it was intended. There was going to be a reckoning.

Except that what we’ve seen in reality is that FPTP has done exactly what it says on the tin.

Just as the smaller parties howl in anguish, Conservatives across the country revel in a decisive victory.

Their decision to vote against electoral reform in 2011 looks to have been justified.

So howl all you like, but there’s very little chance that electoral reform will be featuring on this government’s agenda – on the contrary, FPTP suits it rather well.

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