miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... but I think the disgusting spectacle of politicians of all stripes grubbing over the votes of racists, by pretending to understand their "genuine concerns about immigration" might be caused by our first past the post electoral system.

Let me explain.

In the last few days there has been more than one piece on Lib Dem Voice which might as well, as Andrew puts it, have been entitled "Immigrants: Threat or Menace?". One of them was written by Vince Cable. Vince sodding Cable, who, lets not forget, was married to a lady from Goa. Vince is clearly not racist. Yet he still feels like he has to listen to racists' "genuine concerns about immigration".

Why?

Because in our electoral system, each seat is winner takes all. There are no prizes for second place.
52% of the electorate just said, effectively, that they have "genuine concerns about immigration". Sure, some leave voters voted for a lexit; some were genuine Liberal Internationalists who want us to trade more with the rest of the world; etc. But those deluded people have been shanghaied into the media narrative that they hate furriners.

Now you might, quite logically, think that if the vast majority of politicians are grubbing over the vote of 52% of the population, it'd be sensible for one party to cater exclusively to the 48%. If (say) five parties are fighting for a share of 52% but just one has 48% to itself then that one party is in clover, right? Mathematically speaking?

If we had STV you'd probably be right. But under FPTP, where the winner takes all in each seat, it's not quite that simple. Our electorate is used to voting tactically, so while that 52% ought logically to divide itself up between the "concerned about immigration" vote according to other factors, in practise people who have this as their top concern look at which one of the several options is most likely to win where they live and plump for that one (obviously not every voter decides like this, but enough of them do that it's safe to ignore the minority who vote on principle).

Thus whatever is the minority opinion on a given subject, even if it's quite a large minority like 48%, is pretty much guaranteed to be ignored by all politicians of all parties because the one thing all politicians have in common is that they want to win. This leads to voters of all stripes feeling disenfranchised and resentful, because there is no voter who agrees with majority opinion on everything, and this leads to ugly politics.

TL;DR: we really need STV. It's not a panacea, but it'd certainly help.

Date: Monday, July 4th, 2016 03:57 pm (UTC)
pensnest: collection of coloured pencils in a pot (Rainbow pencils)
From: [personal profile] pensnest
I'm getting *so* fed up with the people saying we have to 'respect' the people's choice when we *know* they were in the Remain camp. I'd love to hear a politician say that the people picked the wrong horse! Given the mind-boggling abandonment of any shreds of integrity that the leaders of their respective campaigns are showing at the moment, I don't hold out any hope for it.

I agree that we need a change to the electoral system. If thr LibDems hadn't screwed themselves so thoroughly when they had the chance to make a real and meaningful change, we might indeed have had one by now. I don't remember what they were offering us, but I've long thought that "superconstituencies" about the size of five/six current constituencies ought to work—they'd elect five MPs, and everyone could also have one vote towards a List candidate, so that each party could also offer a national List, and X thousand List votes would get an MP. That way, the Greens (and sadly also UKIP, but needs must) would have a chance to get some actual representation, and we'd also keep the link between MPs and constituencies. Indeed, it'd help the constituencies of senior ministers, which can't get a lot of local time from their MPs currently.

What also needs to happen is for the Conservative and Labour parties to split. Both are really two parties in a very uneasy alliance, and as voters we'd have a far more interesting and meaningful choice available to us if we could vote for, say, a truly Left-wing Labour candidate, or a pro-Europe Tory, etc. And that would lead to parties which had to ally with one another to form governments, which, no doubt, they would hate, but which would lead to far more of the electorate actually having their vote respected than our present system does.

Coming back to your post, someone going for the 48%'s votes could actually do quite well with it, so long as they picked the right constituencies. We've got a pretty good map showing the cities where Remain won thumpingly. And being the losing side, they (we) probably have more incentive to get out the vote next time.

Date: Monday, July 4th, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
"Superconstituencies" are how STV works (except they're not a fixed size in a sensible system, so you don't need to change the boundaries very often, just stick on an extra MP if the population goes up and take one away if it goes down - also means you can use meaningful boundaries, mostly cities or counties), and pretty small parties can get elected in them in Ireland.

With 6 MPs, you would need 14.7% in a seat to get an MP by right. Given how the fractions round off (and transfers, but let's not get into that right now), about 11% in practice. The variation in vote around the country will mean that anything above about 8% nationally will get their fair share (I'd do the maths properly for a normal distribution, but I don't have time, but I've done it before with varying assumptions and it's usually ballpark 60% of the quota, which is also about right for Ireland). The Greens might be a bit below that, but they could get MPs, off the top of my head, in Bristol, Oxford, Norwich, Brighton, Edinburgh and three or four London seats, and there are probably as many again where they'd be close, e.g. Manchester. And that's on basically their current vote, without targetting or it rising in a proportional system, and not accounting for places I've forgotten. Not exactly the 20-30 they should get, but still a reasonable-sized parliamentary party.

There's a case for a small list layer above STV to help out very small parties (assuming a threshold of 4% or 5%, anyone from the threshold to about 8% will fall short under STV) and also to ensure that major parties close to each other in votes are put in the right order in seats. The disadvantage of this is that it can only account for first preferences, so "transfer-friendly" parties don't get more seats than "transfer-repellent" parties with the same first preference share; I regard this as a benefit of STV - if everyone else hates you, you need more votes than if everyone else likes you, because the party everyone else likes gains seats on second and third (actually, in practice, fifth and sixth) preferences. But there are also distributional effects caused by having boundaries, which may have a bigger impact. I note that Malta has a national list to balance out the numbers, but that's partly because of a strict two-party system and an election where one party got an absolute majority of the national vote and the other got the majority of MPs (it was something like 50.5%-49.5%).

What also needs to happen is for the Conservative and Labour parties to split. Both are really two parties in a very uneasy alliance, and as voters we'd have a far more interesting and meaningful choice available to us if we could vote for, say, a truly Left-wing Labour candidate, or a pro-Europe Tory, etc. And that would lead to parties which had to ally with one another to form governments, which, no doubt, they would hate, but which would lead to far more of the electorate actually having their vote respected than our present system does.


This! This! This!

The fact that both parties are pretty close to splitting at this exact moment is the only thing that makes me optimistic right now; if only one is divided, then the united party sees FPTP as a huge advantage, and is usually the one in government. If both split at once, though, then PR is going to be favoured by at least three of the four factions, and probably all four; the results of an election with that many parties under FPTP are completely unpredictable. You could get an overall majority while coming third in the national vote on less then 25%, at which point you might as well just pull names out of a hat.

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