Time to reform our unfair voting system

Written by Steve Dyke (First published in the “Party People” column in Medway Messenger on 13th May).

In April seven candidates competed in a House of Lords by-election following the death of a hereditary peer.  Anyone could stand – if they were a Liberal Democrat and had inherited a peerage.  The entire electorate was the THREE current Liberal Democrat hereditary peers.  Seven candidates, three voters.

The winner can now vote on laws and propose amendments.  He can claim £300 a day for turning up and has the job for life.  All simply through being chosen by a couple of his mates. An extreme example of how ludicrous and out of touch our electoral system can be.

However one central aspect of the system affects us all more directly: the ‘first past the post’ method used for general and local elections.  This method may have been OK in the era of two partypolitics but in our modern multi-party political landscape it is unfair and not fit for purpose.

Less than a third of those on the electoral register voted for our three Medway Tory MPs.  Everyone else find themselves represented by people who do not generally share their views and who seldom depart from the party line.  Medway Council is similarly unrepresentative, with a Conservative administration who got only 43% of the votes but 66% of the council seats.

Many people are fed up with not getting what they voted for, others don’t vote at all.  Democracy suffers as a result.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  Last week’s elections for the Scottish, Welsh and London Assemblies produced fairer results by including a form of proportional representation.  Under such a system votes for those perceived as ‘smaller’ parties can make a real difference – for example Scotland now has six Green MSPs.

Everyone’s vote should count and we badly need a reformed, modern electoral system that ensures this.

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One Comment to “Time to reform our unfair voting system”

  1. I could not resist commenting. Very well written!

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