Ten faults with FPTP

I’ve posted ten faults of First Past The Post (Winner takes all) voting to the link below. Please tell me if you think of more faults.


The original is also in the Make Seats Match Votes facebook group, which I recommend to you.

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Represent or Representative

Someone recently wrote on Facebook, “If you think, for example, that a rich white male can represent underprivileged women from ethnic minorities just as well as one of those women’s peers could, then you are very sadly mistaken.”

There would have been a tremendous outcry if she had reversed that and said an underprivileged woman from an ethnic minority could not represent rich white males. A well-paid, highly educated female barrister can represent an unemployed, badly educated man in court and parents can represent their children in many ways.

There seems to be confusion between the verb “represent” and the adjective “representative”. Although a rich white male and an underprivileged woman from an ethnic minority are not (demographically) representative of each other, either can choose the other to represent them (politically) by voting for them.

It may well be that each would prefer to be represented by someone who is reasonably representative of them, so we need a voting system that lets them vote for that if they wish. FPTP in single-member constituencies doesn’t because there’s only one candidate from each party, which severely restricts choice. Most PR systems also don’t, but STV in multi-member constituencies does.

Except perhaps for the smallest parties, each party would nominate more than one candidate and, to maximize the party’s votes, it would be wise to nominate a diverse range of candidates. This would give voters more choice and, if they wished, they could vote for candidates who, they felt, were reasonably representative of themselves.

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STV Technical

STV Action recommends you to join the new electoral reform Facebook group, STV Technical, if you are interested in the technicalities of STV, such as calculating quotas: http://www.facebook.com/groups/174665706660004/about. There’s no subscription.

STV Technical as an ally of, not a rival to, STV Action and other PR groups but a very dedicated one, focussing on the technicalities of STV and leaving the groups free to concentrate on campaigning.

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Make Seats Match Votes

STV Action recommends you to join the new electoral reform Facebook group, Make Seats Match Votes (MSMV): http://www.facebook.com/groups/213803319205218. There’s no subscription.

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Systems Recommendations

This post is based on information kindly supplied by Richard Lung.

The reports, where the politicians are their own referees – Hansard Society MPs, Labour Party Plant Commission; Jenkins Report (under secret Blair tutelage) – generally favour an Additional Member system.

The reports by independent referees generally favour STV: Kilbrandon, Kerley, Sunderland, Richard, McAllister, and the Councillors’ Commission. Also, the independent Citizens’ Assembly in British Columbia, Canada, recommended STV overwhelmingly.

Further, STV is slightly favoured by Arbuthnott (for Scottish Euro-elections), Helena Kennedy Power report, Tylor report (for House of Lords).

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Systems comparison

Click on https://stvact.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/comparison-of-fptp-and-its-two-main-uk-challengers-2.pdf to see a comparison of FPTP and its two main UK challengers against a number of features. Decide for yourself which of the features listed are important to you, and see how the different systems compare.

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Party proportionality isn’t everything

Lack of party proportionality is only one of the many defects of First Past The Post voting.

It has many more defects and most types of proportional presentation (PR) will not cure them but PR by Single Transferable Vote (STV) will cure them; e.g., lack of genuine voter choice at elections, safe seats leading to jobs for life, split votes, tactical voting, inability to vote against a candidate without voting against the party, lack of proportionality on non-party grounds.

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Labour’s view in 2007

Today is the 11th anniversary of the publication of the Labour Government’s “Governance of Britain” paper, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228834/7170.pdf .

There is much in it of interest to all who are interested in constitutional reform.

The Government of the day announced four goals on page 11 and the first was, “to invigorate our democracy, with people proud to participate in decision-making at every level”.

Pages 8 and 46 are of special interest to supporters of PR. Page 8 summarized the then Government’s commitment to “complete and publish a review of voting systems in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment” and page 46 expanded on this:
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Features of a good voting system

This is a copy of the paper I sent on 30 April 2018 to Make Votes Matter (MVM) in response to its invitation to members to say what we would look for in a voting system:

The three most important criteria for a democratic voting system are:
• to represent accurately the views of voters;
• to represent accurately the views of voters;
• to represent accurately the views of voters.

I don’t need to tell MVM that FPTP fails the above-mentioned criteria abysmally in terms of representing voters’ party support.
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Corruption more likely with one-party Councils

A report completed for the Electoral Reform Society has found that one-party dominated councils are at much higher risk of corruption (51% higher) than competitive councils.

It also concluded that one-party dominated councils typically achieve lower price savings: 2.1% compared to 6.2% achieved by competitive councils in England.

It’s a picture Nathan Briant, local government reporter at the Oxford Mail, recognizes: “In my experience where councils are dominated by one party there is less scrutiny. They are much more likely to take the view of officers and go with it without asking as many questions. That is unfortunate, but it is the way a lot of councils do it.”
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