28th August 2017
The voting system used at the recent General Election is broken beyond repair, according to local Liberal Democrats. Local Party spokesperson Ellen Bryson said the First past the Post system used for Westminster elections was a ‘democratic disaster’ and distorted the way elections operated in Britain.
Mrs. Bryson’s comments followed the publication of a highly critical Report on the 2017 General Election by the Electoral Reform Society which found that the result did not accurately represent how electors voted, distorted the result in all 4 nations of the UK, failed to produce a decisive winner (for the third election in a row) and was more akin to a lottery than a democratic election in a modern European democracy.
In Scotland there were huge changes in 2017, both in vote shares and in representation. The winner in most seats got less than 40% of the vote – such as in Rutherglen & Hamilton West where, as in many seats, the majority was less than 1,000. The worst example was North East Fife where the Liberal Democrats missed victory by only 2 votes.
Ellen Bryson said –
“The United Kingdom is literally the only country in the whole of Europe to use the First Past the Post voting system. The ERS Report shows it is not fit for purpose. It is arbitrary, encourages negative tactical voting, often produces the wrong result and grossly over-represents or under-represents the various political parties, not just across the United Kingdom but within each of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.
In Scotland the SNP lost 21 seats in June – but still got far more seats than they deserved on their vote share. Both Labour and the Tories were under represented in Scotland in 2017.
Across the UK as a whole, the Tories were over represented by far while the Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP all should have been entitled to more seats based on their vote share. In the case of the Liberal Democrats, they have been grossly under represented at every election for the last 60 years.
The results of this electoral lottery are far reaching – there would almost certainly have been no disastrous Brexit referendum under a more proportional election system; quite probably there would have been no Conservative Prime Minister in any of the last 3 elections while, in Scotland, the nonsense of the SNP winning every seat bar 3 in 2015 could not have happened.
Liberal Democrats are clear that the British general election voting system is discredited beyond repair – it is time to replace it with a proportional system like STV (single transferable vote) which gives the power to the voters, produces a fair result based on votes cast, encourages positive voting and is democratic. It is a serious matter indeed when our Parliament does not properly represent the public.”