Over the last few weeks I waxed loquacious about my postal vote. So I suppose that having bored everyone to death with the pre-election build-up, I should at least (if only in passing) comment on the aftermath.
In the past I’ve been rather cynical about the political process, mainly because of the low turnouts. But with nearly seventy per cent of the electorate voting perhaps the result of last week’s election should be taken seriously. And what was the result?
As I predicted, my postal vote counted for nothing. In my constituency we had a very high turnout, and the incumbent MP was returned with his majority increased by over three thousand votes. His total of votes received was four thousand more than all the other candidates’ votes added together. So my vote made no difference one way or the other.
In Westminster Mad Cap’n Tom raked in 84 votes, which wasn’t bad going. It’s quite easy to see who got how many votes locally, but from that point onwards it gets complicated.
From various conversations I’ve had over the last few days, it rather scares me that the general public simply don’t understand our political process (Take my nephew for example Or one of my colleagues who honestly thought John Major was still the Prime Minister). But I can’t blame the normal people for their ignorance of the system. For example: given that one party has raked in 36% of the popular vote, why should they then have 47% of the parliamentary places? And if that proportion is correct, why has the party in third place with 23% of the popular vote only got 9% of the parliamentary seats?
Or take the General Election in February 1974 where the party who came second actually got more votes than the party that won.
The system is clearly wrong. If nothing else last week’s election has demonstrated the failures of our current electoral system. I can’t help but feel that despite being widely regarded to have got third place, in many ways the only winner was the Liberal Democrat party, as the whole “Hung Parliament” fiasco has highlighted what they have been saying for years, namely that our system of electing a Parliament sucks fish.
Having said that, there have only been two hung parliaments since 1929, so the system only rarely fails. And it strikes me as somewhat amusing that the only way out of the deadlock it generated is to seriously consider an electoral reform in which hung parliaments would be de rigueur.
And what of our hung parliament? I have a sneaking suspicion that following the election results, the Labour party have tried to be rather clever, but didn’t quite pull it off. In the first instance they sat back and let the Tories and the Liberal Democrats totally fail to form a coalition government. I say “fail” – they may well yet succeed. But with a hung parliament having been predicted for some time, they seemed (and still seem) to be taking an awfully long time to come to any common ground.
So with no agreement in sight and with negotiations on the way for a new leader the Labour Party made a statesman-like attempt to come to an agreement with the Liberals. Had they pulled it off, then Labour could have claimed the moral high ground in forming a government where the Tories couldn’t, and for having saved the country from political chaos. But these talks are dragging as well.
Earlier I said that the only winner of this election was the Liberal Democrats. They are also the only real loser. They have known for years that their first chance of real political power in government would be in a power-sharing hung parliament, and now that it’s happened they have clearly proved themselves unprepared for the challenge.
I’ve voted Dithering Democrap for years. Never again.
And in the meantime, regardless of who eventually forms a government, we will eventually find ourselves dragging along with an “Alliance of Losers” until a serious effort at electoral reform has been made. Which could take months, if not years.
STOP PRESS – FIVE HOURS LATER
It’s now five hours since I wrote the above, and Labour have thrown in the sponge because those who came third in the election have (finally) decided with whom they are going to play nicely.
On reflection I stand by what I wrote….