Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

4May/11Off

The UK needs electoral reform, but AV isn’t the answer

In an electoral system where the two biggest parties have around 66% of the votes, but more than 90% of the parliamentary seats, it is very hard to argue that there is fairness.

On the other hand the United Kingdom has a constituency based parliamentary system in which Members are elected to represent specific areas and "to consider and propose new laws" on behalf of their constituents. I believe that is a very good thing. In any democracy there needs to be a connection between the Parliament and the people it governs. MPs can fulfil that role very well. In theory. Therefore, if a politician gets the most votes in his constituency why should we add up all the votes of the losing parties and pretend that they represent one united faction? That also seems unfair.

In my opinion there are two major problems with the UK electoral system which have resulted in the disconnection between the spread of votes and the number of seats a party can win.

  • The first problem is that the British Prime Minister is not directly elected by the people, but instead comes from the party with the most seats in Parliament (or a coalition thereof).
  • The second is that politics everywhere is increasingly polarised. All over the world it seems that for many voters any sensible policy from the opposing party is no longer seen as such, and even media outlets are just as divided as us the electorate. Civil wars are fewer, but hatred between political parties seems to be on the increase and no conduct is too low to stoop to.

There are many reasons for this polarisation most of which I won't go into today, in case I lose you on the rant at hand. The main issue with polarisation is that it normally happens on a national scale over national issues and thus if one is voting for a local MP based on a national issue, there is a natural disconnect.

There are people whose votes change from time to time. Pollsters call them undecided voters, politicians call them the middle ground and I call them Liberal Democrats. Voters in the middle ground do seem to be more susceptible single issue politics and un-due influence from the (polarised) media.

The Alternative Vote system may solve some of the problems that result in polarisation, however it doesn't solve the problem of UK voters having no direct say in who the leader of the country is. That in my opinion is the major reason for our own polarisation.

The UK has had a succesion of PMs who have been acting increasingly Presidential. Even opposing parties campaign on the false premise of 'letting in' so and so into Number 10. This was most apparent during Tony Blair's time and may even revert back if David Cameron wins the next election outright. For example there was a time when opinion polls showed that the Labour Party would win many more votes if Tony Blair was not their leader. Mr Blair had simply run his course and probably overstayed his welcome. Being that a voter only has one vote with which he 'thinks' he could elect the leader of the country and also his local MP I'd guess that there are many times when they would have wished they had two votes. One to elect a Prime Minister and another to elect an MP.

It might seem like I'm calling for the Monarchy to be abolished in a week in which the future King of the United Kingdom got married, but that is not the case. I just think that it's time the country moved on and was able to call to account their leader in a separate election from their local representative. I'm pretty sure that the Queen could still occupy the ceremonial position she does now if it makes people feel better.

I believe that the USA has 'too much' democracy and is stuck in an endless cycles of elections in which it's much harder to do good than to wreck havoc. However as it is the UK has too few elections and is stuck in an endless cycle of trying to align their local and national issues with one vote.

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