by Reg Barritt
The outcome of the 2015 general election has placed the first past the post system of election of MPs to Westminster and local councils under greater scrutiny than ever.
Use of First Past the Post for both local and general elections now stands stripped of its main justification: delivering strong government, representative of the wishes of the electorate.
A great deal has been made of the claimed overwhelming victory of the Conservative party and the so called devastating loss suffered by the Labour party (a false interpretation by our media that even the parties themselves have been far too quick to buy into).
In fact, the swing in seats was influenced by relatively small shifts in votes in relatively few constituencies, only further skewed by the distortions of an unrepresentative election result in Scotland.
The time has come for change.
At this point in a discussion, the result of the AV referendum is often raised by opponents of electoral reform.
But AV is not a PR system and was never going to be what the people would want instead of First Past the Post.
As the facts of pluralist politics become harder to ignore the debate rightly turns to how to respond.
The answer lies with the Single Transferable Vote.
Under STV, the current 650 or so single member seats would be combined into about 140 generally five member constituencies (with some variations) using a preferential (e.g. 1,2, 3) vote rather than the single x.
The same number of MPs would be returned as now but 85% plus of the electorate will have had their preferential vote based on their first or a subsequent (redistributed) choice.
The system would give a more balanced representation at Westminster for the competing parties, similar to the popular vote gained.
Electors would not have to vote tactically or negatively for a candidate they do not like to get rid of them.
And when it comes to STV, electors will not necessarily vote in the same way as First Past the Post so smaller and more extreme parties are not certain to gain from this reform. It all depends on what and who else is on offer.
It has been said the use of STV is too complicated for our electorate. Yet STV is used in many major elections all over the world such as in New Zealand and Ireland. If it is not too complicated for the people of these countries to use it is certainly not too complicated for us.
We should make the next general election the last ever lottery election and move to a modern representative system that ensures everyone’s vote counts and that this is properly translated into equitable national representation.
Reg Barritt is a campaigner for electoral reform