Monday, 10 May 2010

2010 Election Results Under Different Voting Systems

Thanks to some number crunching from the Electoral Reform Society, we can now see what the election might have looked like under different voting systems.  I've taken their figures and plotted them below in a couple of different formats.  In each graph you can compare results as they actually are (under First-past-the-post) and results under AV (Alternative Vote), STV (Single Transferrable Vote - the Liberal Democrats preferred system) and under a fully proportional allocation (based on share of the national vote).  I don't think it takes much to realise that pretty much any of the alternatives is going to be fairer than FPTP, but there's still quiet a discrepancy between the different systems.

How would PR have changed previous election results?

Here's a quick link to a BBC article that shows how 2005's election outcome would change under various voting systems.  One of the issues for the UK to consider is how difficult it is to implement these different systems.  For example, moving to Alternative Vote (AV) where you simply rank candidates could be done very easily - no changes in constituency boundaries or in the number of MPs per constituency.  However, if we moved to Single Transferable Vote (STV), we would need to design larger, multi-member constituencies which would take quite some time to sort out I imagine!  Of course, the ones take a little longer to implement also seem to be the ones that are more proportional.  More on this later!

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Lie Laid Bare

So, after weeks of arguing why first-past-the-post is the one true electoral system because it always delivers clear-cut results, David Cameron's lies about electoral reform have once again been laid bare.  We are now in hung parliament territory for certain.  Of course, it may be a bit harsh to suggest that Cameron has lied consistently throughout the campaign when discussing electoral reform.  There is another option; perhaps he doesn't quite have the mental capacity to understand what an equitable, proportional electoral system could look like!  So, which is it Dave - are you being stupid or deceptive on the issue of electoral reform?

And now we watch with interest as the Tories try to circumvent constitutional rules (which say that Labour, being the incumbents, have first dibs on forming a government) and get into bad so quickly with the Lib Dems that their own mothers would be ashamed of them!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Is the lying over yet?

Jeremy Paxman has oft been quoted as having the mantra "Why is this lying bastard lying to me?" to guide his interviewing technique - he denies the attribution of course. After just a few weeks of listening to the politicians bark their messages at us, I can only imagine how he must feel dealing with these lying liars day in and day out. How they manage to have debate after debate, argument after argument and yet avoid saying anything of real substance is pretty astounding.

To summarise my memory of the Leaders' debates...

Chair: Leader A, what is your party doing about issue X?

Leader A: What haven't we done about issue X! The real issue is how parties B and C have totally avoided this issue and their complete lack of transparency over issue X means the public simply cannot trust them. 

Leader B: I find it completely disengenuous that Leader A would suggest that Party B had been ducking the issue. The public are not fools. They realise that Party B really has no long-term strategy for solving issue X and that we really are the only party of the future.

Chair: And Leader C? What are your thoughts on issue X?

Leader C: Well, I agree with Leader B...

and so it went ad nauseum. 

Still, despite the media and much of the public baying for substance, it never really emerged.  Even the most transparent of the parties (the Lib Dems) have about £30-40 billion in uncosted savings; in their deficit plans and this is by far the best of the three main parties.  Furthermore, the economic policies were probably the most aspects of the party manifestos that had most meat to their bones; nevermind issues like the environment and education, which hardly got a look in.  So, regardless of which parties form the next government, we really don't know exactly what we're going to get.  One thing we can predict with safety though is that it is going to be tough.  Very tough. 

So, barring a prophecy of long-term misery can we venture any more short-term projections regarding the election outcome?  What will May 7th bring?

First up, I predict that it will be close; very close.  My fear is that the Tories will be very close to a n overall majority and so will end up in bed with a combination of the Ulster unionist parties (DUP and UUP).  Heaven help us!
Secondly, I think that at an individual constituency level there will be many, many recounts.  I suspect some may even resort to legal battles, especially given there have been noises about postal vote tampering. 
Lastly, despite the Lib Dem's surge and talk of over 100 seats, I just don't see it happening. Like many commentators, I think Lib Dem support has already started to wain.  So, I think we will see an increase in Lib Dem representation, but it will be more like 72-75 seats rather than the 100-105 they are dreaming about. 

I hope I'm proved wrong on this last point.  I believe a coalition involving the Lib Dems really does offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change this rotten system for the better.  Let's hope us voters don't just go and f%$k it up!
Oh, and one last thing...GET OUT AND VOTE!!!