Figures prove case for reform of voting system


An analysis of the voting in May’s General Election shows the following.

The increase in UKIP’s support was far greater than that of any other party, including the SNP. It won 12.6 per cent of the votes, an increase from the 2010 election of almost 10 per cent. SNP’s share went up three per cent to 4.7 per cent and won 56 seats. UKIP, which had two MPs before 7th May, lost a seat.

The Tories’ rise in support, 0.8 per cent, was less than that of the Labour Party which went up 1.5 per cent. However, the Conservatives won 36.9 per cent of the vote against Labour’s 30 per cent and ended up with 331 seats against Labour’s 232.

While the Green Party got less than a third of votes that UKIP polled, it also ended up with the one seat, holding Brighton with an increase of 10 per cent of the vote. Nationally its share increased by 2.8 per cent.

As everyone knows, the Lib Dems were the big losers, their vote declining by 15 per cent and with it the loss of 49 seats.

The turnout was 66 per cent of those eligible to vote, one per cent up on the 2010 election.  So a third of the people eligable to vote (approximately 15 million) consistently stay at home.  Furthermore, it is estimated that 7.5 million people entitled to vote were not correctly registered, and this figure is increasing according to a report by the House of Commons Select Committee on Constitutional Reform. This publication, in examining the statistics for the 2010 General Election, states: “The number of people that did not participate is larger than the number of votes cast for candidates of the two largest parties.” This will not have changed for the 2015 General Election, and confirms the dangerous alienation of a large majority of our citizens from our democracy.

These figures highlight the statistical case for electoral reform, which should be strengthened by the philosophical arguments, the most obvious being that if people don’t engage with our democracy they don’t feel a sense of belonging to our society, of having a voice in how their future is determined, of being involved in how the country is governed, of caring for its well being. And with this mindset, people are more likely to engage in negative and destructive actions including self-harm, vandalism and terrorism and less willing to improve their lives and those of their children, fulfil their potential and contribute their energy for their own and the nation's wellbeing.

Only a naïve fool would think that reforming the voting system will rid society of its ills. Similarly, the cynic will argue that a fairer system will mean more extreme MPs. Indeed, it’s interesting to observe that the rise in UKIP’s share of the vote mirrors the fall in the Lib Dems, confirming that many people want to register a protest vote rather than support a party whose policies they understand and agree with. However, if we want all members of our society regardless of their background, economic status, religion and lifestyle to engage in democracy, we must make voting fair, efficient and logical. It is time for change.

Paul Hensby