Wednesday 6 May 2015

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Having nearly sent our postal votes to "Chums" the postal retailer and my order for traditional men's striped pyjamas to the Electoral Registrar it is time to order my thoughts properly on tomorrow when the nation, or at least some it, goes to the polls.

In the town where I grew up in the 1951 Election I found it odd that when the Conservatives polled the most votes overall they won only one of the four constituencies, the other three being taken by Labour.  Moreover, once the Liberal Party had been strong, it was now much weaker but still polling votes without hope of a seat.

Later I learned that these vagaries one way or another were very common and all the media excitement was about the relatively few "marginals" and the "swing seats".  What I did wonder was that in all those patches that were "safe" for one or other party was it fair or proper that major sectors of the electorate had little or no hope of real representation in the House of Commons?

It appeared that this feature of the "first past the post" system in the past could have some peculiar effects which not only made governments and Parliament lacking real balance but had the potential to deliver potentially disastrous situations and arguably had done in the past.

Whether this will happen tomorrow we do not know but given the quality of the election campaigns and the general nonsense that has been inflicted on us it seems to be a serious possibility.  What is more worrying is that some doomsters seem to be rubbing their hands about the global crisis to come.

One political figure cited from the past is the experience of the 1880's when Charles Stewart Parnell led the Irish Nationalist Party and at times had the balance of power and caused serious difficulties for the British governments of the day to the ire of the Unionist Scots.

This one is close to home.  His career was ended because of his attachment to Katharine O'Shea, wife of another man.  In one branch of my family they are off the same patch as Parnell and one married an O'Shea in 1896, indeed I knew the lady as a child.  She did not like to discuss political history.

What might have happened in Ireland or Britain at the time had there been some form of proportional voting we cannot know.  Perhaps there might have been less lurching about of policy and a lot less Imperial adventurism.

Certainly, Parnell commanded a large vote in Ireland and a strong voice but because of the system, with a base of only around 6% of the total electorate it gave him an excessive power over decision.

In our 2015 Election at present it seems that both of the "major" parties are commanding around a third of the vote.  But there is also the matter of turnout.

If it is good at 72% (a figure chosen to make the sums easier) then the lead party in our next government may have won only around 24% of the total electorate.  If it is bad at 57% then it is 19%.

Up in Scotland the SNP by winning around 50% of the vote might take all or almost all the seats.  Which, of course, leaves the other 50% unrepresented in the House of Commons.

Applying the same 72% and 57% to turnout comes to 36% and 23.5% of the total Scottish electorate and possibly around 3 to 4% and 2 to 3 % of the total UK electorate.

If we do have results that result in serious uncertainty and endless difficulties it is a mess that our leaders and politicians have created out of their own greed, stupidity and short term thinking.

What we can be certain is that the lunatics who do take over the asylum  will be staring into the TV cameras and claiming to have a right to represent the people.

Some election, some mandate.

1 comment:

  1. "Some election, some mandate."

    I agree. I'll vote but I'm not sure why I bother.