Friday, May 06, 2005


Well, that’s over with for another four or five years

And what a very interesting four or five years it is going to be. All those issues that weren’t discussed during the election campaign are going start crawling out from under the carpet whether we, or our politicians, like to think about them or not. It’s not going to be fun.

The two of us in our household spent some time mulling over whether to vote or not yesterday. Ours is a strong Labour seat and voting Liberal Democrat as we decided to do would have been an exercise futility. There are several lines of thought as to whether to vote or not in these circumstances:

  • If everyone thought the same as you and stayed at home there would never be any change
  • In the absence of proportional representation, your vote is a wasted vote and all you do by voting is endorse a flawed system
  • No, your vote isn’t wasted as it adds weight to calls for a proportional type voting system
  • It all depends as to whether there is anything interesting on the tele or not

In the end we decided bugger it, went to the polling station, marks were made, and our forms (presumably) counted before being passed on for recycling. At no point did either of us feel buoyed up with the joys of living in a democracy. Why should we? There are millions of people throughout the country who have voted for second place parties for their entire lives and whose vote has never truly been reflected in the composition of government. It says a lot about our current voting system that nobody ever thinks about implementing it in any of the countries turning to democracy for the first time. British style, first past the post systems for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa? Don’t be silly.

I wrote about this in a blog entry a couple of months ago and my predictions turned out to be spookily true. All that money spent on campaigning. All that piss and wind. All for a result that was 100% predictable months in advance …

61% of eligible people voted. Of that 61%, 36% voted labour, 33% voted conservative, 23% liberal. Which yielded 356,198 and 62 seats respectively. These figures throw up all sorts of interesting observations, none of which appear particularly democratic

  • Labour secured 36% of the vote but won 55% of the seats
  • Liberals secured 23% of the vote but only 10% of the seats
  • Labour beat the Conservatives by 3% of the vote. That 3% yielded 158 additional seats. That’s a quarter of all seats
  • 2% of the eligible voting population gave Labour an absolute majority over all other parties combined

To call this poor is an understatement. To claim a mandate for national government after securing 22% of the available vote and only 2% more than your nearest competitor is an insult to us all.

Our system made a lot more sense back in the days when politics was a straight fight between labour and capital and there were only two main opponents. That isn’t the case any more and we should change the system. This won’t happen of course. Both the main political parties are bought and paid for by vested interests and the last thing they will permit us is actual democracy.

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