The Tories are almost always the main beneficiaries of FPTP

Thursday, 30th June

Boris apologies

Prime minister Boris Johnson

• SO there we have the truth of it, Martin Plaut is a closet supporter of coalitions but only if they can be dominated by a particular faction and provided those pesky voters don’t get a look in, (Main parties are already coalitions, June 23).

This is a widely held position. David Cameron took the country into a disastrous referendum to try to achieve the same domination and rid his Tory coalition of miscellaneous Euro-sceptics, faux populists, and so on. He forgot that this gave every voter a say and got a deserved kicking with terrible consequences for all of us.

The main beneficiary was Boris Johnson who, as soon as he became leader, eliminated all opposition within his Tory coalition and started a much- followed fashion.

The most recent FPTP, first-past-the-post, election not thousands of miles away, but right here and mostly in England, was the 2019 election giving a Johnson-style Tory government coalition with a massive parliamentary majority of 80 seats.

This, thanks to FPTP was achieved with a mere 43.6 per cent of the popular vote. Johnson didn’t need PR to allow a few right wingers into parliament, they just joined the Tory party.

The Tories are almost always the main beneficiaries of FPTP. To see their candidate elected they only need to mobilise just over a third of the voters in any one constituency to sail through, while the other parties split the remaining two-thirds among themselves.

Many in Labour are still wedded to FPTP because they remember the good old days when less than half of the popular vote in Scotland gave them pretty much 100 per cent of the seats.

Days long gone because the combination of another referendum and the particular geographical configuration of constituencies has enabled the SNP to flip the FPTP system, also taking nearly 100 per cent of seats with less than 50 per cent of the vote.

This was quickly extended into the Scottish parliament in Holyrood, where almost all Scottish National Party MSPs are elected in FPTP elections with less than half the vote.

Even when polling well, because the Tories have again made themselves toxic, there is no longer a route to even a minority Labour government, or any sort of Labour government without the support of the SNP.

Irony of ironies any Labour government now will be on the back of a highly unstable coalition with the SNP without a single PR vote being cast.

It’s time for a grown-up discussion of proportional representation. Not just any electoral reform will do. We don’t, for example, want to give the party apparatchiks even more power by simply adding a party list system layer to FPTP.


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