Tuesday 12 May 2015

Read All About It: A Call For Electoral Reform

This post is late. I sat down on Sunday to write it but still felt so miserable about the election result that I couldn’t force myself to say anything useful. So here it is, a day late, and still pretty damn miserable.

On Thursday night, you could almost smell the hope in the air. People on Twitter were talking about what they were doing in 1997 when the news broke that Labour had won the election, and the Tories were at long last out of power. I was a bit young to remember the exact moment, but I can certainly recall the atmosphere of that time. My mum was actively involved in the Labour Party, and worked at the local MP’s office. When Labour won the election, my parents threw a big party to celebrate. I was in charge of the playlist, Spice Girls, obviously. I can remember how excited and happy everyone seemed. And I can remember feeling that myself, though I didn’t really know much about why I should dislike John Major, I can definitely remember feeling glad he was gone.

As I was reading the tweets, I could feel the excitement growing. I’m not a Labour Party member, I’m Green all the way. But I was happy with the thought of Ed leading a minority government with the help of the Greens and other parties. I definitely didn’t think the Tories would end up staying in number 10 for another five years.

And yet, at 10pm, that’s exactly what the exit polls predicted. I’m not exaggerating when I say I felt physically sick. The thought of another five years under the Tories, and without even the Lib Dems to prevent some of their more damaging manifesto pledges, is just awful. We stayed up for most of the night, watching depressing result after depressing result until it became clear that the exit polls were spot on. We would have a Conservative government. And all that comes with that - fox hunting, the privatisation of the NHS, even more welfare cuts, and tax cuts for the wealthy. Because, you know, it makes sense that the most vulnerable in society should be pay the price and help to keep the bank accounts of the wealthy looking good.

One of the most frustrating things about the election, was that I knew going in just how unfair it all was. I’ve always known politics was a bit skewed, and that a lot of people were essentially forced to vote tactically in order to keep less desirable candidates out, but now I know just how unfair it is. In 2011, we had a referendum on the voting system. The proposed change was to the Alternative Vote system, it’s not perfect, and probably isn’t the one I would choose, but I do feel it would have been an improvement on the current First Past The Post (FPTP) system we currently have in place. After a turnout of just 42.2%, the results dictated that people had voted against AV. I think this was largely thanks to the huge No2AV campaign funded by wealthy Tory party donors who obviously didn’t want a fairer voting system that might actually reflect the views of the people (and thus not let the Conservatives into power). After a lot of confusing misinformation and scaremongering, the campaign was successful and we were stick with the FPTP system for a while longer.

To give you an idea of how unfair our voting system is, here are some facts:

Only around one fifth of the eligible population voted for the Conservatives, and yet they now have a five year term ahead of them.

The Conservative’s 11 million votes secured them over 300 seats. The Greens received over a million votes (so about an eleventh of the Tory’s total votes) and now have Just One Seat.

Thanks to the way our voting system works,each Tory seat is worth just 34,348 votes. For The Greens, a single seat was worth over a million votes. And for UKIP, almost four million votes were worth just one seat.

The SNP didn’t get many more votes than The Greens, and yet they now have 56 seats in parliament and the Greens have just one.

Now, I’m not saying I want to see UKIP with more power. I don’t, obviously. But, if 12.6% of the population voted UKIP, then this should be represented in government. People often use far right parties as an excuse for keeping FPTP. But, the current system is pushing all of the parties to the right anyway. As the fight each other for votes, all of the mainstream parties are moving further and further to the right in pursuit of UKIP’s votes. You only have to glance at the immigration policies of the major parties to see that they aren’t a much more compassionate option anyway. And, it’s important to remember that if we had a fairer voting system in place, people would vote differently. People wouldn’t need to vote tactically, or use their votes to rebel against parties, instead people would be free to choose the parties they actually want to vote for. Doesn’t that sound like a better system?

And while we’re at it, why do we have a House of unelected representatives who get to make decisions about how the country is governed? This is ridiculous, no?

If you think we deserve a fairer voting system, please sign the Electoral Reform Society’s petition calling for one. You can find the petition here, also check out their website when you get a minute. I think I’m going to join. Electoral reform might be unlikely under the Tories, but that means it’s more important than ever before.

This post is for the Read All About It linky. The idea is that each week bloggers link up their news related posts here, and then we can read, comment on and share each other’s posts. I’m always looking for new blogs to read, and especially love reading news posts so please do link up. I’m guessing quite a few bloggers will have written about the election results this week! Your posts don't have to be about the election though. They can relate to absolutely any news story from this week or last. It could be local, national or international news.

To link up, all you need to do is grab the linky badge (below) and feature it at the bottom of your post. Then link up your post using the form below, and have a read of the other posts too if you have time. I’m looking forward to hearing what others made of the results!

Read All About It

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