One of the discussions to come out of the General Election fallout is whether our electoral system is fair. As such, many people, believing it isn’t fair, are advocating a change to PR (proportional representation) and away from FPTP (first past the post).
I understand the calls for PR. If you take the number of national votes and divide them out proportionally to give an even share, it is easy to consider that more fair. This is especially true if you are a party — like the Greens or UKIP — who seem to suffer under the current system. Why, in the case of UKIP, should they get over four million votes but only end up with one MP? The SNP didn’t get nearly as many votes but have 56 MP’s. How is that fair, you could easily argue.
Here’s the reality though. Unlike the SNP who came first in 56 regions, UKIP kept coming second. Though there was plenty of interest in them across numerous regions thought England, only one region was interested enough to locally vote them first.
Should we override the will of all these other regions who didn’t put UKIP first — choosing Labour or Conservative candidates instead — by balancing out the votes across whole country evenly and forcing a UKIP MP upon them? Should a constituency lose it’s right to choose their own political candidate?
National vote is largely irrelevant, something that is easy to forget. We vote for a local MP to represent us. If a candidate doesn’t come out on top in their constituency, they don’t become an MP. Simple. The fact that, across the country, a party got a significant number of votes should’t be allowed to override the will of the people in their own locality.
So, imperfect as our system is, I am yet to be convinced that PR is a better alternative. We vote for our MP’s locally, so if a party wants to get more MP’s they need to come first in more regions. To add up all the votes across all regions and try and use that as a basis to get more MP’s actually feels like cheating — as well as overriding the will of the people regionally.