According to Timothy Garton Ash, in an article in today's Guardian newspaper
"In the current parliament a staggering 433 out of the total of 650 MPs were elected on a minority of the votes cast in their constituencies. Sixty years ago, for comparison, just 39 out of 625 were elected on a minority vote."

I find this truly shocking. We, in the UK, have a system no longer fit for purpose. No wonder there is such widespread apathy among British voters, when a situation persists where people feel their votes don't count. This is particularly the case in constituencies with so-called 'safe seats'. The current electoral system for MPs for the House of Commons works best where there are only 2 dominant political parties.  That has not been the case in the UK for a long time. We have 3 and many more smaller ones. The system is that whoever gets the most votes wins (First Past the Post) even if that person has a minority of the total votes cast. How can that be fair and truly representative of the wishes of the people in a democracy?

I live in one of the many constituencies where our sitting MP was returned at the last General Election with a 'majority' although most people who voted didn't vote for him. This makes no sense to me. To make voters in this constituency feel even more disenfranchised, since at the last General Election John Bercow stood in the capacity of Speaker a tradition was followed whereby none of the 3 main political parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) put up rival candidates. This makes no sense to me either. I have nothing personally against my MP but in advance of the election I really did feel disenfranchised last year - see Undecided UK Voter. Although I did vote.

As well as local council elections in some parts of the UK today 5 May, there is also a National Referendum. We don't do referendums often here. I think this is only the 2nd ever? The referendum gives a choice between saying YES or NO to a proposed new system known as 'Alternative Vote' (AV for short, just to confuse those of us who think AV is the 400 year old English Bible translation otherwise known as the King James Bible).  I've been out to vote and in the refendum voted YES. I want to see a change to a system I think will be fairer i.e. more representative of what the majority thinks. I want to see a change to a system where no-one gets a 'safe seat' potentially for 'life' on the basis of less than 50% of the votes cast. I want to see all MPs have the support of the majority of the voters. I want to see more people actively engaged in politics and I think this could be one small step towards that. For more information about the case for electoral reform click here.

If you are a UK elector and you haven't already, then get out there and vote! It's your (very hard won) right and civic duty. Don't take that privilege for granted. If you don't like the election and/or referendum results, at least you'll know you tried to affect the outcome.


  1. Good post, Nancy and I do agree with you. Voting matters and fair votes matter, which is why I too have voted yes in the referendum,though AV is only a small step in the right direction.

  2. And so - we await the referendum results. If the yes does win, I agree with you Perpetua that would be only a small step in the right direction.


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