Out for the Count: Six things you need to know about the UK electoral system:by Alexander on May 11th, 2015
Out for the Count: Six things you need to know about the UK electoral system:
1) Labour and the Conservatives aren’t really competing
They seem like mortal enemies, many people in each party hate the other side. But in reality they are symbiotic not competing parties. Implicitly they are in a pact that means the can both remain in power half the time FOREVER. Whilst both Labour and Conservatives have much of value to say those two small groups of let’s face it fairly odd people who want to be involved in party politics don’t know everything. It is quite possible that all knowledge of how to run a society or an economy cannot be fit neatly on a left right spectrum as they would have you believe.
This video explains how that works:
2) The game is rigged.
The people who currently have the power to change the system have no interest in doing so. First past the post keeps new and small parties out. As alternative ways of looking at problems are excluded, so are the different solutions those viewpoints can provide.
In the House of Commons there are two lines drawn on the floor members from each side of the house are supposed to walk on either side of their own line. The Lines are just over a sword length apart. Our system of government was designed for a time when elected representatives hit each other with swords. I would like to think that we have move on from then. It’s time our electoral system did as well.
4) In our system Manifestos don’t matter
Endless breath is wasted talking about the manifestoes. Who takes the time to read them? Almost no one: No doubt which policies get enacted from the ruling party’s manifestos will have an impact on the success of the country but this almost certainly doesn’t dictates who wins the election in a first past the post system.
Having gone to a count at the weekend it seems entirely possible to me that the manifestos of the parties have a much more limited effect on which party wins power than the two major parties would like you to think. I suspect the Null Hypothesis is true. Labour’s Manifesto will have little effect on whether they win the 2020 election. I have heard ministers say that after a while the electorate just gets fed up with you and votes you out. I have seen a lot of people saying “this is how our democracy works” well the trouble is that isn’t democracy as anyone would understand it. It’s an eternal Lab-Con coalition.
Under first past the post power shifts when a small number of swing voters in a small number of marginals get fed up with the ruling party and opt to kick them out. It’s not that the rest of us don’t have view’s, it’s just that under our system they don’t matter.
Don’t believe me? Here’s simple test: write down all the key policies of the party you support. Now write down the same number of key policies for the party you don’t support. If you can’t remember all the policy you were supposed to be going to the poles to vote on, then could the election really have been about policies?
5) It gets emotional
As the two main parties move closer together their language about each other becomes more parabolic. Before the 2015 election Labour and the conservatives where criticized for standing so close you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them. What was their solution? Not to step apart but to shout louder and make more outlandish statements about the tiny gap between them. At one point there was an ad that conveyed no really information, but instead just showed a clock being smashed as a visual metaphor for what the other party would do to the economy.
Actually no: Germany is an equivalent society; with a reasonably equivalent economy and a proportional system of government as opposed to our winner take all system. How long should their parliament be? About 4 years. How long are they? Normally 4 years.
In a Proportional system what do two coalition parties want to do? They both want to stay in power for a full term. Why because fighting elections costs them money. Going to the poles is expensive and they run the risk of them being kicked out. It is in both coalition partners interest to form a stable government.
Moving to a proportional system may or may not be in your best interest but let’s not pretend for a moment that it is in the interest of most of our elected MP’s. If it was, they would have switched to it by now.
If it was the best system of government, then at least one country that had formed in the post war period would have adopted it. There are many forms of PR, they all have some small problems, but the salient point is this: all forms of Proportional representation are better than first past the post.
If you want more info watch CGP Grey’s excellent video on this subject: https://youtu.be/s7tWHJfhiyo