20 April 2010

What PR would have given us?

Right. Have cobbled something together. Based on:

Northern Ireland - Irish parties votes only, uplifted so they are 100%

Wales - assumed all PC votes cast here, uplifted, remainder shared between 'Big 3'

Scotland - assumed all SNP votes cast here, uplifted, remainder shared between 'Big 3'

England - assumed no national votes here, smaller parties vote checked on uplift, all under 5%, so Big 3 uplifted to be 100%

(Yes, I know this is highly unscientific, but it's to give a vague idea....)

The biggest party in each election is the same as the winner under FPTP (Tory 1979-1992, Labour 1997-2005). BUT - this is never enough to govern alone.

If the nationalists could have been bribed sufficiently, they were a big enough block in 1997, but I have assumed this wouldn't happen.

By these calculations, the liberals / alliance / LDs would have been a coalition partner in every election since 1979...


  1. Hi Philippa

    Makes you wonder how different things could
    have been with PR.Certainly would have kept
    that harpy from Grantham in check.Thanks for

  2. Very interesting.

    Cheers the pipster!

    (I once came up with a PR system that worked really well, and still maintained regional representation, but... I forgot it, and I lost the beer mat it was written on!)

    This is definitely 'food for thought' though!!

  3. Philippa,

    this is really interesting. Impossible to calculate obviously, but I wonder what the turnouts would have been in each of the elections under PR? I daresay there would have been the continual downward turn but not as dramatic as the widescale apathy today.

    The whole concept of FPTP 'returns a strong Govt'. Well, yes but what if said strong Govt actively pursues policies against at least half the electorate (Thatcher's administration in my view)?

    It brings into play whole concepts of what Democracy is and how it should be practiced. From 1979-97, you had the south of England dictating to the rest of the country the direction the country was taking. Of course this is not right and while I believe the system itself is rotten to the core, at least PR would be a gingerly taken step in the right direction.

  4. Yes, quite aside from my fairly distant relationship with maths (a bit like with my Auntie Maureen), there are the usual 'suppressor' aspects that mean one can't extrapolate from FPTP figures
    1) more people would vote full stop if they knew it would matter
    2) more people would vote for smaller parties if they knew it would matter

    (2) becomes bloody obvious when you look at the green vote in generals v euro elections.

    I tried to keeep the regional aspect but obviously couldn't do anything other than 'straight line' (whereas I am aware that would overstate the Tory vote in Scotland, for example).

    I favour a German 'two list' system meself, half are constituency MPs, the other half allocated on a list system subject to a 5% floor. Although that still has a major party bias on the Erst-Stimme, so maybe throw STV in there as well, just to really make it interesting...

    Was actually vaguely reassured that the primary party would still have been the same - but that mainly relies on the third party being third by some distance. What is suggested to come out of a fairly level three-way split is just barking, frankly...

  5. Philippa,

    what I may do is some comparison with the Dutch General election which is in June. I think this may be timely as it's a direct comparison between the FPTP (the least representative system) and the Dutch (one of the most).

    The Dutch system is renowned for being the most representative system in the world in terms of voting power. However with that there are problems- forming Governments after elections is an incredibly long process and then there is the politics of consensus on all aspects.

    Culturally this suits the Dutch as the polder model of collaborative politics is centuries old. This so called horse trading, anathema to the grand traditionalists of FPTP actually has precedent in the Scottish and Welsh executives.

  6. "The whole concept of FPTP 'returns a strong Govt'. Well, yes but what if said strong Govt actively pursues policies against at least half the electorate (Thatcher's administration in my view)?"
    But, equally, what if it creates the NHS? Would there have been sufficient strength under PR to create the NHS in the face of fierce opposition without the power given by FPTP? Cuts both ways, I think. Danger of PR is it gives disproportionate and near permanent power to parties the fewest people voted for doesn't it? Certainly the impression I got from reading one of PB's earlier posts, though admittedly a few hours ago so it's not fresh in my memory.

  7. Fence - aye, sometimes Parliament has to be 'ahead of the people' (see the abolition of the death penalty), and the issue of semi-permanent 'third' parties, well, you can look at the FDP in Germany until the 'grand coalition' - but I think that representing the vote more evenly is better than tossing a coin on whether you're going to have good guys or bad guys in the driving seat on 30% of the vote. And the third party doesn't get to 'rule', they get to help - if they're smart, they have their three points down, and then get on with what ministries they've agreed.

    No system will be perfect. But FPTP is so far from perfect that it beggars belief....

  8. I dunno, I think that's a very bad way of bringing about change. If we think the parties are all the same now, how much more so will they be when they enter each other's death grips for five years? I think that, whatever system would be brought in, we'd soon be complaining about that too. The real problem is the lasting failure of the parties to deliver on what they promise (save selectively) and their reduction of everything to soundbites, plagtitudes and dog whistling.