Time for fairer votes

In five weeks the country goes to the polls. But the way in which our votes are counted in that election urgently needs changing.

Our “winner takes all” system of “first past the post” has preserved an artificial two-party state despite politics becoming more diverse than ever.

Just one look at the current state of politics shows us our current voting system is broken.

Far from “providing stability”, under a more representative voting system countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand have held one general election in the past four years – while the UK has had three.

At each election, we see huge differences between how people voted and what they got, while millions of voters are deprived of representation.

The figures reveal the discrepancies: it took 28,000 votes to elect each SNP MP but over half a million to elect just one Green MP.

In the 2017 general election, Greens stood down in 31 seats, partly to help Labour win the argument for fairer votes.

But there has been no such move and Labour is the only social democratic party in Europe to support unfair voting.

Polling from Make Votes Matter indicates that a majority believe that a party’s share of seats should closely match the votes it receives while two thirds support a fairer voting system.

Importantly, studies show that unequal votes help create unequal societies – choice of voting system can be directly related to gaps between the richest and poorest.

Countries such as Sweden and Iceland that use proportional representation (PR) also have more women in politics.

The Green Party stands for a much fairer voting system. We also want to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, who can marry, direct a company yet not vote.

It’s time for Labour and the Conservatives to face up to the fact that this country has evolved beyond a time when a binary voting system reflected two parties.

Let’s move beyond the perverse system of “first past the post” that is hardwired to suit the establishment and leaves many feeling powerless.

Let’s have fairer votes.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Rostrum Reply

    Tripe proposed by losers…

  2. SamC Reply

    We had a referendum on an alternative system as part of the Lib Dem demands for coaltition with the Tories and the vote was NO. Should we have another on this question at the same time we have the next Brexit referendum?

    • Robin Hislop Reply

      The approval ratings of the 2 main parties have been hovering around 15% since then, often dipping into single figures. Does that sound like a country that happy with the status quo?

  3. gilbert bligh Reply

    The past few years have shown that we don’t need 650 MP’s on £79,500 a year because they are not fit for purpose. I believe that the major reform needed is to elect people that are actually qualified to do the job i.e have a degree in economics for a start because most MP’s don’t understand how the important decisions they make can affect the economy. How can someone, in effect, make such important decisions when they have basically won a popularity contest – just look at the recent Labour party announcement for re-nationalising BT and free broadband – ridiculous to say the least – can anyone remember back to when there was just one phone provider and they just charged what they liked? We have loads of companies providing very good and competitive packages on Broadband – what’s going to happen to them?
    You cannot find a better example of how absurd some of these MP’s are and why they should have to be qualified.

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