The result of the 2017 General Election has seen another hung parliament, the second in my lifetime and it has seen the Conservative Party lose the majority it had won in 2015. In the wake of the results I have been thinking about what kind of cycle of government we are going to see in the next 100 years from now. For that reason I have believe that we can no longer elect our government using first past the post system. It is broken and it’s time to bring in proportional representation.
Since the creation of the House of Commons over 300 years ago it has undergone three different cycles of two major parties. First there was the Tory and Whig parties from 1707 – 1827, then there was the Conservatives and Liberal parties from 1858 – 1924 and then we have had a cycle of Labour and Conservative parties between 1924 to the present day. Now here we are in the 21st century with a new cycle of government emerging, but it’s not coming from two major parties.
The last 300 hundred years of government have seen the parties elected based on ideology and class in the form of conservatism, liberalism and socialism. Well nowadays the general consensus for electing a party is based on the issues of the current state, the age of the voters and their aspirations. People treat their tastes in politics on a consumer choice like basis. Such as issues like immigration and welfare, business and public services, foreign affairs and international trade.
This approach to politics is more about people and issues than ideas and personality and it has led to the rise of minority parties that focus on single issues like environment, national sovereignty, localised affairs in the nations and regions, British unionism and Irish republicanism. This is acknowledged by parties like UKIP, the Green Party, English Democrats, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, SDLP and Democratic Unionist Party. Unfortunately for these parties first past the post puts them at a disadvantage, because with the Conservatives and Labour as the biggest parties they haven’t got much chance of governing the country and find themselves working more as an opposition and protest vote rather than a government.
Over the last ten years we have already seen two hung parliaments and that is a sign that the system can’t produce an effective government anymore. FTPT only works when the party with the highest number of votes has more than 50.6% of seats which gives them 326 out of the 650 seats in Parliament. Anything less than that means either a minority government or a coalition of parties. Fifty years ago a winning party could win 90% of the vote, nowadays they’d likely to score around 40% – 50% of the votes because there are too many parties. For this reason I wholeheartedly support proportional representation.
It is the most widely used electoral system across the whole world.
Proportional representation works by using multi member districts so you can get more than one MP for a constituency that can come from more than one party. So in my constituency in Romford I can get one Conservative, one Labour and one UKIP MP to represent me in Parliament. That sounds like a means give more MPs in Parliament. So for PR you’d have to use one super district. That means that Romford could be made into a larger constituency or amalgamated with another district like Hornchurch, Upminster, Rainham and Dagenham. So you would have to use a larger district to make proportional representation effective. The Boundary Commission however is currently in the process of making a reduction of the number of seats to 600. So there might be a chance that PR will be implemented in the future.
There are several different ways in which proportional representation is used. One in particular that I favour using is used to elect the MPs to Denmark’s Folketing. They use the party list PR system. Voters have two votes to make, one for their district representative and the other for the party list. The party list determines the balance of power in parliament. Once all the district representatives have been given their seats candidates from each party elected to top up each party to the overall number of parliamentary seats.
Denmark introduced PR into their electoral system in 1920 when they kept repeatedly getting hung parliaments due to too many parties. It’s been very effective to the Danish people to focus on collaboration between politicians to deliver a healthy, happy country which is reflected in Denmark’s quality of life. In the same way I hope that it can bring a better way of life to Britain by giving the minority parties a chance to represent the major issues of the people in government. Abraham Lincoln once said ‘If you want to test a man’s character, then give him power.’ Well I want to test the abilities of these minority parties by giving them power.
What makes the Danish party list PR system special is that they use a two tier party system to keep the collaboration between the parties in harmony working in the mutual interests of the country. Denmark is divided into three electoral regions and ten multi-member constituencies which are subdivided into 92 nomination districts. The first 135 are allocated ten multi-member places and the remaining 40 are distributed compensatory to balance any difference between district level results and nationwide vote share.
Denmark already has a number of political parties in comparison with the UK. But these parties are divided into two main blocs which represent the political spectrum. Blue is right of centre and red is left of centre. This party list PR system can better serve the people of Great Britain because the blocs will make an effective government based on the issues that matter the most to the people. As a Conservative I have a number of issues that most to me. That is the freedom of creativity for enterprise, the Brexit process, investment in science and technology and devolved powers to local governments.
If you took this system and used the results of the 2015 General Election you would have a Conservative-UKIP coalition with the following seats won: Conservatives (240), Labour (199), UKIP(82), Liberal Democrats(51), SNP(32), Greens (25), Plaid Cymru (4), Northern Ireland Parties(18). In terms of the blocs that the parties here would be allocated to the right wing parties of the Conservatives, UKIP and DUP would have a combined total over 330. A very effective majority and a government that represents the people fairly. It will also give a test of many prospective parliamentarian’s character by giving them power.