An unrepresentative voting system no longer fit for purpose

So Labour have won the general election a sizeable overall majority of seats and a low percentage of vote, a low overall national turnout and in fact, less votes than they received when Jeremy Corbyn was leader back in 2019. 

There’s no doubt that along with many friends I’m celebrating the fact that 14 years of Tory rule have come to end, but already I’m looking further. I have little confidence in Starmer to lead any real change, despite the mandate that he now has. 

A YouGov poll suggested that the majority of Labour voters only voted Labour to get the Conservatives out, only 5% voting because they support Labours policies and only 1% because they support Keir Starmer.

As my friend Dan Astin-Gregory  (who is speaking at this year’s Campout) observed “This combined with the low turnout overall, seems to indicate that the majority of people in Britain are disillusioned with the political status quo. In the wake of the election, many of us are getting together to explore our options.

We stood one Independent Trailblazer, Emma Wall in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, who polled a creditable 1833 votes. With more time I am sure that we would have been able to field many more candidates. 

Some key questions remain: 

 1 Should we actually be engaging with this outmoded, undemocratic system at all? 

2 How do we change it, to bring in something fairer and more democratic? 

3 How will this election shake up re-shape politics, if at all?

 The Electoral Reform Society claimed it was “the most disproportional in British electoral history”. 

As reported by the BBC “The gap between the share of total votes won by the winning party in the 2024 general election and the share of Parliamentary seats won is the largest on record, BBC Verify has found.

 “This disparity has prompted renewed calls for reform of the electoral system, with Richard Tice of Reform UK complaining on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday of the “injustice” that his party had received millions of votes but only five seats in Parliament.

 He said: “That is blatantly not a properly functioning democratic system - that is a flawed system. The demands for change will grow and grow.”

The Green Party’s co-leader Adrian Ramsay said he wanted to see a “fairer system” to ensure that “every vote counts equally”.

“On this measure Labour’s result in 2024 - with the gap between the share of votes won and the share of seats won of around 30 percentage points - is the most disproportionate on record.”

If we want democracy, we’re nowhere near it in this FPTP system. Historically the ‘moderate’ LibDems have been the biggest champions of proportional representation but they are currently the ones benefitting most from the current outmoded system. We can expect both Greens and Reform to be the ones wanting to transform our political system the most from the current parties but there is also a sense of a big rise in then influence of Independents which I see as a strong force in political change away from tribal loyalties. 

For once, The Guardian has its finger on the pulse too in today's editorial

“Sir Keir Starmer enters Downing Street with a record number of seats and an immense majority on a lower turnout – and fewer votes – than that achieved in defeat in 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn (who was re-elected on Thursday as an independent MP).

“Such a lopsided result illustrates how undemocratic Britain has become and shows that proportional representation could become an issue around which dissent coalesces. The irony is that, after an energetic campaign highlighting important issues, the Liberal Democrats – the most consistent proponents of electoral reform – now have the number of parliamentary seats that reflects roughly the share of the vote that the party received: a record 71 in the Commons.”

“Sir Keir lost two of his putative cabinet ministers on election night. Both were sitting on five-figure majorities. Both were felled by emerging blocs of progressive voters who have rejected Labour’s caution”

“The scale of Sir Keir’s victory disguises a crisis of electoral legitimacy. Labour has won nearly two-thirds of the seats in the Commons with only a little more than a third of the vote. Compared with 2019, the party’s vote share in England remained static, while in Wales it actually dropped.”

Guardian editorial:  Sir Keir Starmer has the Commons strength to be daring. That means fulfilling hopes he did little to excite

Labour had around 550,000 members under Corbyn, 380,000 in 2023 under Starmer, suspected as less today (currently unspecified). only 60% of possible votes were cast this year, with lots of no-shows. we saw a big shift from the two main parties, who got 90% of the vote in 2019, and around 55% of the vote this time. Corbyn’s Labour party had a bigger share of the vote at his peak (40%) than the current Labour party at the recent election (33%).

Well over two thirds (approximately 80%) of voters have elected not to vote or have even voted against Labour.

The whole picture feels unbalanced and unrepresentative. We urgently need to see the outcomes soon from our sowing of seeds in recent years for real systemic change.