One of the defences offered for FPTP is that it is traditional and has worked well for many generations, so why change it?
Most of us know it doesn’t work well but it is less well known that it did not become universal within the UK until the 1950 General Election, which is within the lifetime of many people. Until then, many towns had two MPs, elected by F2PTP.
It hasn’t even become traditional since then. We have six voting systems in the UK! They are:
• FPTP for Westminster and some English and Welsh local elections;
• F3PTP and variations of it for some English and Welsh local elections;
• STV for local elections in Scotland and all N Ireland elections except to Westminster;
• AMS for Welsh and London Assembly elections;
• SV for Police and Crime Commissioners and directly elected Mayors;
• Closed lists in Great Britain for the European Parliament.
So FPTP isn’t traditional and it can’t be working all that well, or politicians wouldn’t have chosen other systems for so many elections.
The good news is that MPs usually reject FPTP when they choose a voting system to elect representatives other than themselves. One day, they may recognize, or be shamed into admitting, it isn’t the best way for them to be elected.
FPTP = First Past The Post
F3TP = First 3 Past The Post. (F2PTP is also quite common and F5PTP has been known.)
STV = Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies or wards
AMS = Additional Member System
SV = Supplementary Vote