Why we should ditch FPTP

“First Past The Post should be retained for use in General Elections as the advantages outweigh the disadvantages”

I very strongly disagree with this statement. FPTP is not representative enough to be used for the House of Commons – we should use a different system like STV because it allows for better representation within the government. FPTP doesn’t give much of a voice to smaller parties – even when they get reasonable portions of the vote. For example, in 2015 the Green party got over 1,100,000 votes but only was awarded one seat, because they were spread out over multiple constituencies. This is also piercingly apparent again in the same year where the U.K. Independence Party got almost 4,000,000 votes but, like Green, only was awarded one seat in Parliament. This obviously isn’t representative of what the people want (as indicated by the popular vote).
On the other hand, the Scottish National Party in 2015 got only 4.7% of the popular vote, and 8.5% of the seats in Parliament. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s almost double what they would get under a more representative system! Both points are quite strong but cancel each other out. Some small parties get too much, the others too little. That is not representative enough to govern the country.

The system is also quite dated – it has remained essentially the same since 1832. This has its positives, namely that the system is known by all ages – if it were to change, people might not want to get used to the new system and might not vote. On the other hand, it also means that it was designed for a different Britain; in the 1800s we had different demographics, needs & wants, and different parties. Old systems are generally outdated – while tradition is important, accurate governing is more so. Even still, the age of the system outlines its consistency: if the system has worked this far, it should work for the foreseeable future! That point is not a strong one I think (the same things were said for monarchies!), the demographic of Britain is changing fast and the ability to vote representatively is crucial.

An argument for the FPTP system is that it is decisive: if we have more representation it would result in more dissenting views, which slow things down. An example of this would be in county councils – there are so many people involved in the decisions that the council makes that it takes a very long time to get much done. However – FPTP has rarely produced decisive governments in recent years, 2 out of the last 4 elections resulted in a “hung” parliament (where no party or coalition has a majority), one of the other two being extremely unrepresentative, and the other only barely resulting in a Conservative majority. I would argue that being representative is more important than being fast – you can’t have your cake and eat it. Decisive systems can easily get into the wrong hands, as has been the case many times for example in early Hungary and Romania.

Some other floating points against the FPTP system would be:
FPTP is opaque and confusing: It might be simple to write an X on the ballot, but to know what exactly that means is confusing, for example with the spoiler effect or tactical voting.
FPTP usually results in minority rule: Because candidates don’t need to get a majority to win the election (just more votes than the others), often over 50% of the electorate in a constituency don’t feel represented by their MP. This can be seen very extremely in Ceredigion in Wales, where over 70% of the electorate didn’t vote for their representative!! Even so in the House of Commons, 54.6% of the population didn’t vote for the Conservative party – that portion of the population is represented by only 43% of the seats. That is a whole 11% difference!

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