Communications Officer

STV Action is delighted to announce it has appointed Gareth Lewis, a maths tutor from Milton Keynes, as Communications Officer.

Gareth’s first task will be to review the STV Action website so, please message us if you have any suggestions to improve it.

Gareth set up the Facebook group, Make Seats Match Votes – www.facebook.com/groups/213803319205218 – and we hope that his appointment as an Officer of STV Action will lead to closer co-operation between the two.

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Covid-19 and electoral reform

What can we learn for electoral reform from the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis?

Comments praising or criticising the Government on its handling of the crisis will be deleted.

Naturally, most Conservative MPs support the Government on this as they do on other issues.  If you are a Conservative voter who thinks the Government is mishandling the epidemic and you feel strongly about it at the next election but your MP supports the Government on this, you will have a dilemma with FPTP.  You won’t be able to vote against your MP without also voting against the Conservative Party, even though you may support it on other issues.

Some Conservative MPs have openly criticized the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.  If you are a Conservative voter who thinks the Government is handling the epidemic well but your MP is critical of the Government on this, and you feel strongly about it at the next election, you will have a dilemma with FPTP.  You won’t be able to vote against your MP without also voting against the Conservative Party.

Preferential voting, in the form of the Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies, would solve the problem for both types of voter.  They would have a choice of Conservative candidates in the multi-member constituency and, without being disloyal to their party, they could give preference in their voting for the candidates whose views were closest to their own.

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Does it matter which PR system we have?

There is a school of thought among some electoral reformers that any PR system would be better than FPTP, and so it would so far as party proportionality is concerned, but not necessarily in other ways.

In fact, party list and hybrid PR systems are worse than FPTP in terms of voter choice and safe seats for MPs. In effect, parties choose the MPs by putting the “yes” candidates at the top of the lists. Only multi-member STV avoids that.

Party list and hybrid PR systems are also worse than FPTP in terms of the constituency link.   There is no constituency link in pure list systems and, although there is one in hybrid systems, it is even weaker than the present FPTP link because there would still be only one MP per constituency and each constituency would be bigger.  With STV in multi-member constituencies, the proportion of MPs to constituents would remain as it is now, but there would be about five MPs for each multi-member constituency, so constituents would have a choice of MPs to approach and nearly every voter would have voted for at least one of them.

So far as non-party proportionality is concerned (e.g. on brexit or HS2), party list and hybrid PR systems are as disproportionate as FPTP.  STV in multi-member constituencies is the only system invented so far that can provide non-party proportionality in addition to party proportionality.

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Constituency link and Effective Votes

In most FPTP constituencies, more people will have voted against, than for, the MP, so not much link for constituents there!  Even in a very safe seat, about 40% of the votes will have been against the MP.

With STV in two member constituencies (STV2), which is a little proportional, at least 67% of the final votes will elect an MP, so at least 67% of the voters can identify, and feel a link, with an MP.

With STV3, which is more proportional than STV2, at least 75% of the final votes will elect an MP.

With STV4, which is more proportional than STV3, at least 80% of the final votes will elect an MP.

With STV5, which is more proportional than STV4, at least 83% of the final votes will elect an MP.

With STV6, which is more proportional than STV5, at least 86% of the final votes will elect an MP.

With STV7, which is more proportional than STV6, at least 88% of the final votes will elect an MP.

With STV8, which is more proportional than STV7, at least 89% of the final votes will elect an MP.

The more MPs per STV constituency, the more proportional the result will be, the more people will feel a link with an MP they have helped to elect and the fewer wasted votes there will be, but the figures above show that the  law of diminishing returns applies to the proportion of effective votes, and very many MPs per constituency may lead to complaints about the number of candidates and the length of the ballot paper.

Conventional wisdom is that STV5 is about the right balance, and I think STV7 should be regarded as the maximum.

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The Great Vote Robbery 2019

Just look at these charts if you think First Past The Post voting is fair, democratic or efficient. It is unfair to parties but, more importantly, it is unfair to voters. It is self-evidently undemocratic. It is inefficient, because it does not produce the Parliament or Government, for which the people voted.

The charts are reproduced by kind permission of Professor Denis Mollison of Herriot-Watt University who created them from the BBC’s statistics.

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The Speaker’s Seat

As the Speaker doesn’t participate in debates or ask questions in the House, his constituents sometimes feel unrepresented although he may raise their problems privately with Ministers. Because it is conventional for the main parties not to oppose the Speaker in elections, his constituents sometimes feel disenfranchised.

As is often the case, STV in multi-member constituencies offers a solution.
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Ten points for PR

1. In 2011, voters preferred disproportionate FPTP to disproportionate AV, but they were not offered PR.

2. It is undemocratic for a party to govern the country with as few as 40% (sometimes fewer) of the votes.

3. FPTP is unfair on voters, because they don’t get the Parliament or Government they voted for.
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Pros and Cons of PR

All PR systems have the pro that they are self-evidently fairer and better than FPTP in terms of proportionality between political parties, but
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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.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/votingreformteam/?fb_dtsg_ag=AdzXVMjDjqGY3ffTNNeVTtfjPdnX8u0HL6CgvApoLNpziw%3AAdxe3-tBj3cyDRfFZoIlDBuOwn6ANB_x24SO76H2nf3AKg

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
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