Saturday, April 18, 2015

The SNP is the most over-represented party in Parliament

Electoral Calculus gives its latest prediction for next month's General Election: the Conservatives to be the largest minority, and only the SNP capable of topping-up the numbers to make a joint majority in the House:

But those 48 Scottish seats are more easily gained than any others. Based on the above data, here is the ratio of seats to votes (ignoring Northern Ireland and a mishmosh of minnows):

Constituencies differ in numbers of registered voters and percentage of voters choosing to participate, and parties differ radically in how their voters are distributed around the country, so we get this hugely unrepresentative result.

Here (approximately) is what the same votes would produce if each vote counted equally (NI and multivarious minnows excluded):

Now in this scenario, it would take a coalition of at least three parties to get a majority. Unlikely, but not unthinkable: if their promises are to be believed, Conservatives, UKIP and Greens would at least agree on the principle of an EU referendum.

So is the choice between grossly unfair representation - and even then a government of allied minorities - or a Babel scarcely able to govern at all?

Long-term, I don't think so, for these reasons:

1. Scotland seems fated to leave the Union, as I suggested last November (and others including Peter Hitchens point out how this would strengthen the Conservatives in what was left, so the Tories may not "strive/officiously to keep alive" the UK.) Whether this is in the Scots' interest is another matter, especially if they decide to join (or re-join - the legal issues aren't clear) Europe. Why cast off your English shackles only to have yourself tied up in a thousand EU threads like Gulliver? Perhaps there is more potential in a new alliance with non-EU Northern States, rather than the Auld one with France and the EU's current master, Germany.

2. Northern Ireland may also be headed for the exit, as I said last May: "None of Northern Ireland's 18 MPs belongs to any of the Big Three, so aside from their ability to lobby they merely serve to raise the bar for an overall majority in the House, from 317 seats to 326. Changing demographics in the Province suggest that, ever so slowly, Northern Ireland is moving to a closer relationship with the South... [She] is drifting away into a different future."

3. If (1) and (2) are correct, then that leaves an Anglo-Welsh Parliament with 573 seats to contest, and who knows how voter behaviour would change in that context? Especially if we re-visit the merits of the Alternative Vote that Lab and Con combined to jeer at in 2011. As I said at the time:

"No-one can foresee exactly how voting will change when all votes count, or at least half of them, anyway. The LibDems needn't assume that it will benefit them most, for if it does, the other parties will adopt a raft of me-too policies. No bad thing, perhaps, to make politicians work for a consensus.

"And maybe, just maybe, we'd start to examine the candidates more carefully, rather than simply glance at their rosettes. No wonder there's such resistance to change from the spoiled heirs of the present arrangement. Just who IS funding the "No" propaganda?

"Ah, but without (so-called) first-past-the-post we wouldn't have had Thatcher, say the Conservatives. Well, I think a general retrospective reassessment of her achievements is in order, seeing as how we've nearly killed our industrial base and allowed the financial sector to come out in a massive, choking algal bloom. But while we're reviewing her with the crystal hindsight of history, we can look again at the miserable record of the Socialist governments, too. The vaunted advantage of a government enabled to take bold action on the back of a Parliamentary majority founded on a minority of votes, is not such a strong argument, in my view."

We're in for an interesting time in and after this campaign, and as long as the EU doesn't find a way to turn our common disaster into an opportunity to tighten its grip on its slave nations, we may be able - eventually - to shake things up and make a new, freer and fairer arrangement. Quite possibly a less politically corrupt and arrogant, and a more economically prosperous one, too.


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