Friday, May 06, 2005

Labour's "mandate"

Considering the circumstances, yesterday's result was a good one. Labour's lead is cut to the point where it won't be able to steamroller policies through in the way it has done. One thing that made me laugh - bitterly - was Blair's assertion that he'd been given a mandate by the people. That'll be 36.3 per cent of the population who bothered to vote then, Tony. More people didn't vote than voted for your party. Nearly two-thirds of those who did vote picked a different party to yours. How is that a mandate?

It merely emphasises the fact that our voting system is unfair and needs urgent reform. This is nothing new - in 1977 Hansard recommended a 75% first-past-the-post, 25% PR system - my father has just emailed me the results that would have occured under this system:

Labour 325
Conservative 201
Lib-Dem 82
Other 37
Labour majority 5

Hardly that much fairer than before, but at least slightly more representative of the true voting picture! Right now, in the "real" world, the Lib Dems are on 59 - their best showing since the days of Lloyd George, but hopefully they'll pick up another couple of seats among the 30 yet to declare (most of these are in Northern Ireland) and break that 60-seats barrier.

Based on this inequity, I have just emailed the office of Tony Blair - obviously he'll never read it, but I'll share it with you in the hope it finds a wider audience:

Dear Prime Minister,
I shall skip the fact you have completely ignored the single biggest issue facing people in this general election (it's called climate change if you didn't already know), and alert you to another of your broken promises. In 1997 I had high hopes your government would reform the voting system so people's votes actually count. Instead, I wake up to the following statistics:

There were 44, 180, 243 registered voters in the UK at the end of December 2004. If turnout is 60.16% as is currently suggested, that means roughly 26, 578, 834 casted votes. If we take the main parties share of the vote, it translates into this (all votes rounded down):

Labour (36.3%): 9, 648, 116 votes
Conservative (33.2%): 8,824,172 votes
Liberal Democrat (22.6%): 6, 006, 816 votes

The Lib Dems therefore polled two-thirds the number of votes that Labour did, but will end up with roughly 60 seats to Labour's 360-odd - one-sixth the number of seats! Or put another way, each of Labour's seats cost the party roughly 26,300 votes; Liberal Democrat seats cost the party over 100,000 votes each!

I would like to know why my vote is worth one-quarter that of other voters, just because I don't back your party. I would be very interested to learn your feelings about this, as right now I feel I am being disenfranchised by my country's archaic electoral system.

Nick Peers

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