Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Will people get what they want?

Quick post on how the system works, because it has been messing up my head for a few days now.

A couple of days (18 April) ago, an ICM poll had the parties at the following levels of support:

CON - 33%
LD - 30%
LAB - 28%

Not one to put that much stock in opinion polls (though I don't quite go along with Lord Foulkes idea that we shouldn't have them during elections) I'm taking everything they say with a pinch of salt.  There are, after all, 650 elections going on - not just one.  And yes, I know there have been a multitude of polls since then - by many different companies - but this poll is interesting for a particular reason.

Putting those poll numbers into Electoral Calculus, you get the following result:

LAB - 263 seats 
CON - 254 seats
LD - 101 seats

And that, for me, is what is incredibly interesting.  Ignoring the million caveats about polling companies' methods, margins of error, national swing etc, there's a larger point to be made if this happens and it is this:

Despite polling just over 1 in 4 of the eligible votes in the election - and having polled considerably fewer votes than either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats - Labour would remain the largest party in the House of Commons, albeit a long way short of a majority.

This emphasises the shortcomings in the electoral system - and the institutional bias against the Conservatives, emphasising the truth in a post I wrote in October.

Two things of note.  Firstly, if this is indeed how the public vote - indicating a minority preference for the Conservatives - how will they react if Labour end up winning a fourth term in office?  And secondly, and perhaps ironically for the Tories, it probably puts electoral reform on the table (if there was indeed a Lab-Lib coalition) which is something they are resolutely opposed to.

Interesting stuff.  Doesn't help me any - but interesting nonetheless.


subrosa 21 April 2010 at 12:48  

Doesn't help me either Malc, but it certainly shows the injustice of our electoral system.

Malc 21 April 2010 at 13:35  

Indeed. The sooner that PR is instituted, the better. But unfortunately, we may have to suffer a Lab-Lib coalition for it to happen!

Caron 22 April 2010 at 06:53  

But it will not happen without the Lib Dems. Once it does happen politics changes for the better. Holyrood ain't perfect but give me a Parliament where parties have to co-operate over one which does not reflect the will of the people by giving stonking majorities to one party.

A result like you describe would be a powerful force for change but it needs more Lib Dem MPs and votes.

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