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« Who won the UK election? We did! | Main | Tony Blair wants to stay »

The results do not add up

The most astonishing aspect of the election is its utterly undemocratic result in terms of the parliamentary balance of power. The proportion of the votes were:

Labour 35.2 percent
Conservatives 32.3 percent
Lib-Dems 22 percent
Others 16.5 percent

This is what the number of MPs should have been – and what they are:

Labour should be 227 but is 357
Conservative should be 209 but is 197
Lib-Dem should be 142 but is 62
Others should be 68 but is 30

Others includes the Scottish and Welsh nationalists and the Northern Irish parties. The outcome is even more distorted in national terms. Overall, the Conservatives got 8,100,000 votes in England while the Labour Party got 60,000 LESS. The Tories WON England in votes cast. But they got only 193 English seats as against Labour’s 286.

Certainly, one reason for this imbalance is that Labout has many safe seats in which there is little point in voting. A genuinly proportional system in which all votes mattered would have seen an increase in Labour votes.

Nonetheless, the system is worse than a charade. Labour’s own proportion slumped from a low 42 per cent in 2001 to 36 per cent of the actual vote last week. Nonetheless it gained outright control of both the executive and the legislature.

Why is there so little protest? Why aren’t the Liberal-Democrats making a real fuss? Why aren’t the Tory MPs that were elected planning to sit down in front of Parliament next week to prevent its opening until we are promised reform of the electoral system? If they did this and called on the people to join them, there would be a million and more overnight.

Why is it that it is only Labour modernisers like Polly Toynbee and David Marquand are calling for Britain to have an ‘orange revolution’?

The Tories dirty little secret is that they want to steal all power next time on a small swing of the votes. And the Lib-Dems? Well, they are celebrating their defeat. Somebody needs to do something about this. What about it, Charter 88, Liberty, New Policy Network, ACT, Make Votes Count? Where are you now your country needs you?

PS: Gareth Young of the Campaign for an English Parliament predicted that Labour would only win a minority of votes in England in his comment on my 'Hang Parliament' entry on 4 May.

May 9, 2005 in Blair's Bust - UK election | Permalink


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The momentum behind the call for electoral reform has been building since the election. In just the last 24 hours we’ve had: PR and its discontents The results do not add up A Proportional Response System failure: all voters are... [Read More]

Tracked on 10 May 2005 11:02:10


Expecting any political party with a chance of attaining power in the UK to change the system is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas of the US to renounce its UN veto.

I agree people power, well organised, would probably be the only way to make the change, and like the idea of an "orange revolution" in Britain - although another name may be wise: orange will make people think of mobile phones (first) and the Liberal Democrats (a distant second).

Please ask people from the organisations you mention to comment. And what about some on the right to make a broader coaltion for change? Which Conservatives in England (Tim Yeo, David Willetts?) might join such a cause, and on what terms?

Posted by: Caspar Henderson | 9 May 2005 10:52:30

At last, someone has recognised the full extent of my genius. The Tories are just conservative, what do you expect? We will be pushing them to look into PR on a devolved English level rather than on a pan-UK basis. I think that proposal will be more acceptable to them. And in that way England will have PR to the same extent that Scotland does. And when England, Scotland, and Wales are all legislating on devolved issues in their own proportionately representative parliament most people will be quite happy.

Posted by: Gareth | 11 May 2005 22:32:37

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