Saturday, 8 May 2010

Votes per MP

I've produced a table, below, showing all the parties who either got more than half a million votes or at least one MP, based on the final results as published by the BBC. The election in one seat has been delayed, and there's another independent in Northern Ireland, which is why it only shows 648 MPs.

I've shaded all the regional parties (four Northern Irish ones, the SNP and Plaid Cymru) grey. You would expect that these parties require relatively few votes to win an MP as they are concentrated in very small areas - which is true for the Northern Irish ones but not Plaid Cymru or the SNP (who don't fare very well under FPTP). You could similarly split the Greens into 'The Caroline Lucas Party' (which gained one MP for only 16,238 votes) and the national Green Party (which obtained no MPs for 269,378 votes).

Clearly, under FPTP, the Conservatives are only ever so slightly disadvantaged compared to Labour, and the Lib Dems lose out massively, but those who lose out most are UKIP, the BNP, and (if there were such a party) the non-Caroline Lucas national Green Party all of whose votes are spread fairly most evenly across the country and who got no MPs at all.

I suppose the table shows something else as well - if the major parties cook up some modifications to the voting system, it wouldn't be too hard to tweak it so the LibLabConsensus are even more firmly entrenched, i.e. by having party lists with a 5% or 10% threshold (which would continue to exclude the BNP, UKIP and the Green Party - assuming no change in voter behaviour).

Click to enlarge:


Pavlov's Cat said...

Interesting reading , thanks for that

Sheep shaggers get 3 MP's with 165,000 odd votes, UKIP none with 900,000 odd votes.

Whether PR is the way to go, I don't know, as I am ‘in drink’ as the judges say

but when put in a table like that the whole thing seems iniquitous to the idea of democracy

dearieme said...

"assuming no change in voter behaviour" is a ludicrous assumption, of course.

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, whether it is "iniquitous to democracy" is another topic; the best performer was The Caroline Lucas Party - one MP for 16,238 votes. is that 'democratic' from the point of view of all the Greenies in Brighton Pavilion? Certainly it is.

But what worries me about having lots of small, local parties is that this leads to pork-barrel-government rather then government 'in the national interest'. Personally I prefer small, national parties.

D, I wasn't making an assumption. I am quite sure that voter behaviour would change, but as neither of us know how it would change, the only way to find out is to make some modest move towards PR.

13th Spitfire said...

Would it not just be easier to redraw the boundaries so that they are proportional to the population centres rather than messing around with an ancient voting system that has served Britain well with regards to the rest of the world?

Mark Wadsworth said...

13, which 'ancient voting system' are you talking about? We used to have multi-member constituencies, the last ones having been phased out in 1950, and lots of places still have them at local elections. Women weren't all allowed to vote until 1928. There is nothing 'ancient' about our voting system.

bayard said...

I'm not a supporter of PR, as I believe that, at least partly, votes should be cast for the person, not the party. Voting for the party is a sure way of getting shit MPs. However, I do think that the re-introduction of multi-member constituencies would go quite a way towards addressing the problems of safe seats and having a government elected by less than a quarter of the population.
Other non-PR ideas for reform that I support are a box for "none of the above", with the proviso that, in the unlikely event that NOTA wins the most votes, the election in that constituency is re-run with different candidates, and negative votes - you still only get one vote, but you can cast it against someone instead of for them.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, having sounded out opinion, I have decided that MMCs, with one-man-one-vote for one-named-candidate are the way to go, see footnote* here.

Tim Almond said...

Brighton's a real anomaly. It's full of "creative media" companies (read: making shitty websites for Fake Charities). Even then, she won with just over 31% of the vote with 2 parties snapping at her heels.

Still, she's going to keep the rest of us entertained.

Lola said...

Carline Lucas is fragrant. That's all that matters.

Ross said...

If you break it down by country the disparities can be even more startling, in Scotland the Tories got 413000 votes and just one seat, whereas Labour got 1036000 votes and 41 seats, or 25000 vote per seat roughly.

Anonymous said...

Im sat here watching my country being torn apart by the libs deciding what whats, the oneyed scottish tw£t squating in Downing street and wonder how many seats UKIP have cost the tories. I wonder if Dave will offer a referendum on the Lisbon treaty now just to snuff you lot out. The irony is - and this make you all look like idiots- that you could have handed my country to the two parties -lab/lib- that will intergrate us more with Europe.

Please go look at yourselves in the mirror and ask am I a patriot or a traitor!

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, I don't dispute that "the Tories aren't quite as bad as Labour" in most respects, but that is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Apart from that, I see very little to distinguish the three big parties. I couldn't care less which one or two of them form the government as it makes bugger all difference, really.

iDave is perfectly entitled to organise a Referendum if he wants, but I bet you he won't.

Anonymous said...

You dont get it do you! Ukip could and in mine and many other opinion stood down in seats where it was close, The cons should have picked up more seats but were buggered by UKIP almost acting as spoilers, well children you have buggered up the party good and proper, your almost childish antics could and thats a big could allow two left wing parties get together and totally ruin this country. The arguement that the Cons should have got more seats etc etc is poor they made 97 gains a record in modern times, take in the BBC obvious bias and I feel they did well, but along come the spolit child of politics and pi$$es on the camp fire.

Common sense and a loyalty to ones country should have prevailed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, I wonder what motivated our DCB to stab her in the face then?

R, true, but the Tories in Scotland are more or less a minor party, roughly on a par with the Lib Dems in England in the 1970s.

If you look at England only, unlike in 2005 (when the Tories got more votes than Labour but fewer seats), in 2010 the Tories inched ahead with 33,370 votes-per-MP against Labour's 36,844 votes-per-MP. Which perhaps explains the Tories' diehard enthusiasm for FPTP - they are, at heart, an 'English' party.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, I have heard those arguments a zillion times and can't really be bothered arguing.

iDave now has the moral right to become PM (nobody is seriously disputing that) so let's see if he comes up with the goodies, shall we? If, by a miracle we get out of the EU and UKIP decide to disband, then I'll start voting Lib Dem anyway :-)

Anonymous said...

UKIP decide to disband, then I'll start voting Lib Dem anyway :-)

Head bang table. Be carefull what you wish for.

You domt know how anti europe I am but I still made the moral decission to vote tory knowing if the other two got hold of this country it will become a desolate wasteland. Perhaps if others had the same moral fibre we would not be having this chat.

Moral cowards!

Tim Almond said...

This "UKIP took Conservative votes" is just nonsense.

If you can't convince people to "hold their nose" and vote for your party in a corrupt system like FPTP then you don't deserve those votes.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, you really are a tedious fellow, as you are deliberately misquoting what I said in some pathetic attempt to win some argument that exists only in your own fevered imagination.

I did not say "[if] UKIP decide to disband, then I'll start voting Lib Dem anyway" I said "If, by a miracle we get out of the EU and UKIP decide to disband, then I'll start voting Lib Dem anyway".

So there are two things that would have to happen before I voted Lib Dem, both of which are highly unlikely.

One thing is for sure, what you have just spouted hardens my resolve to NEVER EVER vote for the Tories. EVER.

JT, exactly.

Anonymous said...

Ukip voters must have known via opinion polls etc that this one was going to be tight, but no they went ahead with their small minded views and took votes from the tories. If they did not why dont they vote labour or lib? No they wont because that is alien to UKIPs views. But due to the fact that UKIP were hell bent on sticking to their guns we have a sqater in Downing st and a euro loving party holding the balance. If thats democracy then I'm a dutchman.

So MW if UKIP were not here you would vote lib/dem poles apart?

Its not me full of bull crap its you.

Anyway Im of to bed.

PS I did one hell of a lot of work for the ref: party so I dont need some traitor to lecture me on democracy.

Lola said...

Mr W, are you a traditional 'Liberal' then?

Anonymous said...

I will clarify what I meant . That I feel that ukip voters were traitors to the CAUSE of ousting the Labour Govt: and thus allowing GB to still be in No: 10 and that he could carry on with a euro loving party as cohorts.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, you are a useful object lesson in why some bloggers just delete stupid comments, but I am not 'some blogger' so I will rise to the bait:

1. "Ukip voters must have known via opinion polls etc that this one was going to be tight, but no they went ahead with their small minded views and took votes from the tories."

Are you mad? People's votes belong to them and them only, to cast as they choose. A voter does not 'take votes from the Tories', that vote belongs to the voter concerned and not to the Tories. In the absence of UKIP those people might have voted Tory, or not at all, or for the BNP or the Lib Dems, what do you or I know?

2. "So MW if UKIP were not here you would vote lib/dem poles apart?"

I will repeat, yet again IF the UK had already left the EU and IF UKIP disbanded, then I would vote Lib Dem. Two big 'ifs' or maybe you can't quite count as far as two.

L, yes of course I am. Small government, free market, social and economic liberal with a conscience. There is no more or less to it than that.

Lola said...

Me too. But I bet that many people don't understand that subtlety when talking about the 'Liberal Democrats'. Those that I know round here are just 'can't ever vote Labour and the LD's are a nice and cuddly version of Labour, which is fine because the Tories are evil', plus the local LD activist is economically ignorant on an epic scale. She is also unaware of the historic roots - genesis if you like - of her party.

It's a worry.

Tim Almond said...

Ukip voters must have known via opinion polls etc that this one was going to be tight, but no they went ahead with their small minded views and took votes from the tories.

That actually sums up why they didn't get people's votes. Because the Tories took the votes of small government rural Conservatives for granted while they went sucking up to The Guardian.

If you don't like what a party is doing, the only way they'll get the message is by not voting for them or voting elsewhere.

If the Conservatives had picked a competent leader (and team) with a socially and economically liberal programme, they'd have walked this election. Can you think of a single time in this parliament when the Conservatives really scored any points against Labour? I can't. It's been the press and the likes of the TPA doing all the work. As an opposition, they have been completely inept and the only reason they've got the result that they have is that Brown and Darling are catastrophic.

Lola said...

JT - yup.

At the time of Brown's deceitful Lisbon Treaty performance all Cam had to do was to say " We've been promised a referendum of this by Labour. If they don't give us one and they sign that treaty it will mean that the next referndum will be on complete membership, and we will hold that referendum if Brown signs Lisbon". That would have 'triangulated' Brown nicely. Simples.

Anonymous said...

Britain has a representative system of Government. In each constituency voters pick who should represent them. Obviously, the person chosen should be the person with the most votes. PR is just an electoral equivalent of the renutrification of shit: give us some seats for all those second, third and fourth places that we won. Rubbish, obviously. If you want to win, you gotta have a winning platform and then sell it. Small parties would do best to focus on a handful of constituencies and attempt to expand from a small but effective base.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, sure, which is why I - like Douglas Carswell - now support the idea of multi-member constituencies; the two or three (or however many) people with the most votes get a seat. There is no need for party lists or anything.