The Sun on UKIP and first-past-the-post

Two years after strident support for first-past-the-post during the AV referendum, The Sun has finally realised that the voting system is unfair — but only because it hurts UKIP:

“A QUARTER of all Brits will have to vote for UKIP before they get one MP, it has emerged. The anti-EU party will struggle at a General Election because it has no large pockets of support like the three big Westminster parties.”

Citing research from Electoral Calculus, Tom Newton Dunn points out that Nigel Farage’s merry band of foliage impersonators only secure Westminster seats at a tipping point of 24% national vote share.

Contrast this with May 2011 spin on how great the status quo is:

“It’s so simple you can sum it up in one sentence: we all pick our favourite candidate and the one with the most votes wins. Clear and easy to understand — and that’s exactly the way a voting system should be.”

Consistency is clearly not the paper’s strong suit.

  1. The 24% figure is psephological bunkum, as proven by the Green Party whose 0.9% share of the vote resulted in the election of one MP.

  2. Not bunkum Richard. The Greens are strong in Brighton, no where else. Parties without strong regional backing struggle – for example the Alliance’s 26% share of the vote in 1983 won a handful of seats compared to the hundreds won Labour’s 27% of the vote. The converse of this is a party that can secure 34% of the vote across the UK is likely to win a majority of seats.

  3. It’s true. Statistics don’t work with small samples, and one MP is as small a sample as you can get. And it’s also true that AV would only solve a handful of the problems of FPTP leaving a long way to go. Then again, now that FPTP has been endorsed by the population, we’re not going to be offered anything else any time soon, improvement or otherwise. And of course you could say that while they’re idiots for voting to keep FPTP, if it’s what they voted for, we have to go with it, otherwise this wouldn’t be a democracy.

    It’s all academic though, because even if we got PR (somehow, magically since it was never going to be offered before, and now any government can say that we’ve endorsed FPTP and therefore are compelled to keep it) , we’d still have problems. The only way you can get the best system is to take the questions of “How does it affect one particular party or another?” out of the equation, and the people in a position to actually do something can’t do that because their careers depend on party interests.

  4. Keith Underhill says:

    Ben : Actually the electorate prefered FPTP to AV

    This was not an endorsement of FPTP.

    I always thought that First Past the Post was a bad name for it anyway.
    There isn’t actually a post! That might have been a better name for AV where the post is 50% of valid votes.
    Simple plurality is a more correct name for it!

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