Conservative Voters Abandoned

First Past the Post (FPTP) results in whole areas of the country becoming electoral deserts for the Conservative Party, where Conservative voters have to be represented by non-Tory MPs with no interest in their concerns. 

As recently as 2005, the Conservative Party received more votes than the Labour Party in England but returned fewer MPs, and for decades Scottish Conservatives have been left with minuscule representation considering our support in Scotland. 

For many years, in Labour-Liberal Democrat marginals Conservative supporters felt they had to back the Liberal Democrats to keep out Labour, making our support appear even lower.

Every vote for a losing Conservative candidate counts for nothing.  Every vote for a winning Conservative MP giving a majority larger than a single vote counts for nothing. And yet in neighbouring constituencies these are votes could be used to support Conservatives who desperately need them.

If large areas of the country are electoral deserts for the Conservatives, members become fatigued, fatigued members are less likely to campaign for councillors, and the lack of councillors – often the most dedicated activists – means MPs don't get elected. Under STV in Scottish local elections, Conservatives are now competitive in wards where previously they stood no chance. They are winning and even bringing much needed skills to jointly run councils, saving tax payers from the worst excesses of tax-and-spend in local government.

The present system has clearly broken down. The results produced are not fair to any party, nor to any section of the community. In many cases they do not secure majority representation, nor do they secure an intelligent representation of minorities. All they secure is fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.

Winston Churchill on First Past the Post

Random Results

Representatives can get elected on tiny amounts of public support under First Past the Post. In 2005, for example, George Galloway polled the votes of only 18.4% of his constituents, yet ended up in the House of Commons. In 2015, eight MPs won on less than 35% of votes cast, and one (Dr Alasdair McDonnell, South Belfast, SDLP) broke the record for the lowest winning share of the vote in UK electoral history, with 24.5%. First Past the Post means candidates can win who don't represent the area at all. Only under First Past the Post can 24.5% of the vote translate into 100% of the political voice for an area. This is because our system works on a winner-takes-all basis, and the amount of votes you need to be a winner is only one more than next competitor, rather than an actual majority of the vote.

 

The dead hand of First Past the Post

FPTP severely restricts voter choice. We as a party are a coalition of many different viewpoints. If your local candidate has views with which you don't agree, First Past the Post doesn't give you a means of saying so at the ballot box. We need an electoral system that can react to changes in public opinion as effectively as the free market can adapt to changing economic circumstances.

Small constituencies also lead to a proliferation of safe seats, where the same party is all but guaranteed re-election at each election. This monopoly not only in effect disenfranchises a region's voters, but it leads to safe Conservative areas being ignored when it comes to framing policy.

Rather than trying to force Local Associations to adopt all women shortlists, under STV local associations may – if they so choose – field a gender-balanced slate of candidates and let the voters decide who is the best equipped for the job.

Destroying the Union

Whilst the UK was saved by the Scots' wise decision in their independence referendum, in terms of its electoral representation we live in a divided nation. For the first time, the parties with the largest number of seats in each of the four nations are all different: Conservatives in England, Labour in Wales, Scottish National Party in Scotland and Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. The SNP won 95% of Scottish seats on just half the vote. FPTP is creating artificial divides and crowding out unionist representation north of the border. 

Within England there are also divides. In the South West of England, there is only one seat west of Bristol that we don't hold, yet metropolitan areas throughout England remain dominated by Labour. The electoral map of the UK suggests that we are a state of four separate and politically disparate nations, with each of our national parliamentary institutions now governed by different political parties.

Yet the way UK citizens vote shows political preferences are far more diverse within nations and regions than the results suggest. FPTP is exaggerating the political differences of the different regions and nations of the UK, forcing our family of nations apart. Whatever the future of the Union, an electoral system that exacerbates divisions rather than reflects consensus and difference as it truly exists is unacceptable in a democracy; an electoral postcode lottery does not serve voters well.

Wasting Tax Payer's Money

Without competition, we know that you get waste, so it's no surprise that non-competitive councils could be wasting a fortune. 

A study undertaken by Cambridge University academic Mihály Fazekas – titled The Cost of One-Party Councils – looks at the savings in contracting between councils dominated by a single party (or with a significant number of uncontested seats), and more competitive councils.

It finds that ‘one-party councils’ could be missing out on savings of around £2.6bn when compared to their more competitive counterparts - most likely due to a lack of scrutiny.