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Originally posted May 31 2010 at 09:05 under General. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.

All Change (We Can Hope)

Waffling disappointed

I was intending to write this post and take a position of talking about the wheeling dealing going on. However, circumstances and events have overtaken me, with Gordon just resigning and David finally getting to see queeny (or at least he just had when I started writing this). So now I can write from a position of at least knowing that there is now a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, even if the details are unknown at present.

How quickly things change, and we can but hope that they keep changing. For what we have now, is broken.

First let’s get the fundamental statistics out the way. As previously mentioned I’m living in the Central Croydon constituency. The BBC results pages show the following numbers:

Results for each candidate in the national election in the Croydon Central constituency
Candidate Votes Percentage
Gavin Barwell (Conservative) 19657 (39.5%)
Gerry Ryan (Labour) 16688 (33.5%)
Peter Lambell 6553 (13.2%)
Andrew Pelling (Independent) 3239 (6.5%)
Cliff Le May (British National Party) 1448 (2.9%)
Ralph Atkinson (UK Independence Party) 997 (2.0%)
Bernice Goldberg (Green) 581 (1.2%)
James Gitau (Christian Party) 264 (0.5%)
John Cartwright (Monster Raving Loony Party) 192 (0.4%)
Michael Castle (Independent) 138 (0.3%)

(Spare a thought there for Michael Castle who was beaten into last place by the Monster Raving Loony Party)

This isn’t too far different from the reported national result::

Seats won by each party in the 2010 national election
Party Seats Votes Percentage
Conservative 306 (47.2%) 10706647 (36.1%)
Labour 258 (39.8%) 8604358 (29.0%)
Liberal Democrats 57 (8.8%) 6827938 (23.0%)
Democratic Unionist Party 8 (1.2%) 168216 (0.6%)
Scottish National Party 6 (0.9%) 491386 (1.7%)
Sinn Fein 5 (0.8%) 171942 (0.6%)
Plaid Cymru 3 (0.5%) 165394 (0.6%)
Social Democratic & Labour Party 3 (0.5%) 110970 (0.4%)
Green 1 (0.2%) 285616 (1.0%)
Alliance Party 1 (0.2%) 42762 (0.1%)
Other 1 (0.2%) 319891 (1.1%)
Other Parties 0 (0.0%) 1758518 (5.9%)

It doesn’t take but a momentary look at the figures above1 to notice that something must be sincerely wrong. The percentage figures included in the first column of the second table are the percentage of seats held. It is notable that they bear no resemblance to the percentage of the overall vote for those parties. Possibly more telling (however much we may be personally grateful for it) is the following fact. In amongst those “other” parties with no seats is the UK Independence Party. They received 917832 votes, 3.1% of all votes. That’s more than the DUP. More than the Scottish National Party. In fact, it’s more than anyone but the three major party. Yes, the fourth most popular party in this country have no seats in Parliament, whilst the Green Party (for instance) with three times less support, have. This cannot be right.

It’s taken so long to write this post other problems with this brave new political world have emerged. It is very difficult to understand how the coalition government can possibly think how such an inconclusive election can give them a mandate to produce fixed term parliaments, particularly such long term ones. Nor do we get anything in the way of electoral reform that will solve the major problems with the current first past the post idea, including those mentioned above (the ever useful BBC have a nice tool to play with various election reforms here). There will, apparently, be a referendum on changing to Alternative Vote (AV). So you’ll be able to vote for a little party, then have this ignored and your second vote for one of the bigger parties be counted (so long as they win of course). In fact it’s acknowledged AV can actually lead to worse representation (in comparison to overall vote share) than the present system. This is nothing but a smoke and mirrors screen to be seen to be doing something while protecting the jobs of the incumbent power holders, as always.

Of course, getting an electoral system correct is far from easy. While the answer may appear to be proportional representation (PR) this has its own failings, not least of which is the removal of the direct link between representative and constituency (though how important that is when the MP spends most of their time in London is arguable). One also finds oneself starting to play with its pureness from a purely practical point of view (setting a minimum percentage required for a seat for example) until there is again just a contrived system which is easily biased to be just for you.

Personally I don’t know why, if we’re going to go along the AV route, we can’t at least go along the path of AV+ (the coder in me desperately wants to write AV++). Something of a compromising amalgam it may be, but it may be the best we can do until someone comes up with something really better. Which might actually be a appropriate metaphor for this government too.

All the above figures are ever slightly skewed because there remains one seat to declare. Thirsk and Malton are still waiting following the death of the UK Independence Party candidate. Close enough for discussion though

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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