So we’ve all pretty much had our fill of elections and the debates surrounding them I guess. Our own election for the position of Editor went flawlessly as usual whilst the UK General Election just went (at least from one side of the barricades). So we’re supposing that unless you have a stake in it the Reds leadership election is probably passing you by.
That said the system they use for electing the leader is an interesting one (to politics nerds like us at any rate). To get on the ballot paper in the first place you have to be nominated by ten per cent of your fellow MPs, then a percentage of constituency parties and then a percentage of allied bodies like trade unions. Get over that hurdle and things become a little simpler. It is essentially a one member, one vote system so all members votes carry equal weighting. After that it becomes more complex again because the ‘voter’ is asked to rank the candidates in order of preference – so given a ‘five horse race’ one marks the ballot paper with the figures 1-5 with your top pick being number 1. After all these votes are counted the hind most falls away and the votes are redistributed according to ranking. Sounds plausible but any individual voter could find that their least favourite (picks 4 and 5) go through to the final round. That said you don’t actually have to participate in the intended way by which we mean that you could theoretically only vote for one person and not bother with any of the others rankings (it just means that in subsequent rounds your view will be not be counted). Still – someone has to win it.
All this put us in mind of the various electoral systems that exist around the world and how they work or don’t work well. One of the worst has to be ‘first past the post’ which we in the UK use to elect our government. Most of you will be familiar with this but let’s just spell it out for clarity’s sake. Take The People’s Republic of Liverpudlia – say ten thousand souls for argument’s sake. Four thousand of them vote red, two thousand vote blue, one thousand vote yellow, one thousand vote green, five hundred vote purple, five hundred vote orange and the remainder vote for their care worker or responsible adult. That means, of course, that red wins regardless of the fact that six thousand voted for anybody but them. Is that fair? Clearly not. Magnify that one constituency nationally and the outcome is staggering. At our last general election The Blues got just shy of 14 million votes and The Reds got just over 10 million votes. In terms of ‘seats’ that translates to 365 versus 203. In anybody’s estimation that is clearly unfair. It’s even worse if you consider Scotland and it’s representation – The Natty Nationalists got 1.2 million votes and 48 seats. The Green recyclers got just shy of 900,000 and got one seat. I mean, seriously…? Obviously The SNP would rather not be in Westminster at all but since we are (at least currently) a United Kingdom then this situation can’t possibly be considered than anything other than a sham. Or should I say ‘shame’.
So now The Blues have an 80 seat majority in parliament and can do pretty much what they please without checks and balances. It’s no use telling us that individual members of parliament can be trusted to go with their consciences and that they will represent our collective will. Look what happened last time some of them tried that. “demos” (the people) and “cracy” (rule or influence) – not round my way, sadly.