Thursday, April 28, 2016

Looking Back - United Kingdom General Election 7 May 2015

I recall everyone wanted to know why the UK election turned out the way it did.

Everyone wanted to know how we got here - like it’s someone else that voted in the Conservatives.

Who did it? It’s the great English public that did it.

The English public - not the great British public. In Scotland they voted for the SNP (Scottish National Party) - a party that is against the austerity plan of the Conservatives and that is committed to devolving from the UK.

Why did the English vote for the Conservatives?

I think it’s because for all the pain the Conservatives have caused to the poor and the disabled in their term of office, the economy seems to be on an upward trend. And people don't want to rock that boat.

And all that talk of getting the Conservatives out because they were cruel, arrogant bastards who only cared about lining the pockets of their chums - it turned out to be just talk.

All that talk about the Conservatives destroying the Welfare State - housing, the NHS.

It’s a class-ridden society like it’s always been – except for those pesky Scots who won’t toe the line.

All Ed Miliband’s talk of including everyone – he must have been thinking of a different society. One in a parallel universe.

It turns out that not only do people not care, they don't even wish they cared. I guess that is the attraction of anonymous voting - blame someone else for the result.

Here are the numbers for the seats, the number gained and lost, the actual number of the popular vote and the percentage of the vote that the number represents.

Conservatives 330 (+37, -10) 11,334,726 36.9%
Labour 232 (+23, -48) 9,347,324 30.4%
SNP 56 (+50, -0) 1,454,436 4.7%
Green 1 (+0, -0) 1,156,149 3.8%
Lib Dems 8 (+0, -48) 2,415,862 7.9%
UKIP 1 (+0, -1) 3,881,099 12.6%

Politics is not just about these leading parties, there was also the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru, and an Independent - all got seats - as well as approximately 120 parties that got no seats and had votes ranging from a few tens of thousands down to fewer than twenty votes.

Because of the peculiarities of constituency boundaries, the SNP won 56 seats in the House Of Commons with 4.7% of the popular vote. The Green Party, on the other hand, won only one seat with 3.8% of the popular vote and UKIP also won just one seat with 12.6% of the popular vote.

Of course, the percentages don't entirely reflect the inequalities because it depends upon what constituencies the smaller parties choose to fight. If UKIP had fought seats in Scotland, their gains and losses would have looked very different.

So the total of the popular vote doesn't show the whole story - but plainly something was and is not working - or no longer working - with the first-past-the-post system.

The Lost Deposits

Candidates in a UK election pay a deposit and it is forfeited if they don’t get at least 5% of the vote.

If a candidate gets 5% or more then the deposit is returned to him or her.

The deposit for UK elections is currently £500 and the Liberal Democrats lost £170,000 in deposits.

According to Open Europe, it would have all turned out very differently if we had had proportional representation in the UK election.

The Week reprinted a letter from Lord Leach of Fairford, Chairman of Open Europe, to the Times.

The letter states what would have happened had the German form of PR applied in the general election.

Under that system, any party getting less than five percent of the vote is not allocated seats. The reason for that is to prevent a huge number of parties with one or two votes each swamping the actual business of government.

We would have had the Conservatives with 275 seats, labour 229, UKIP 92, Lib Dems 54 and no seats for any of the other parties. That is, the SNP would not have got any seats at all.

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