Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Opportunity for electoral reform to resonate?

The latest poll from Ipsos Mori puts the Lib Dems on 25% (+8) the Tories on 36% (-7) and Labour on 24% (-2). So for the first time since 1982 Labour are in 3rd place in the polls.


I don't want to get carried away here. I am well aware that this is a post-conference poll which traditionally gives us a bit of a boost. However I am pleased to see that in a week when Nick Clegg and our other leading politicians get lots of coverage we see a bounce like this because the next time that is likely to happen is during an election campaign. It also does not quite fit in with the media narrative that the Lib Dems had a bad conference. It is also the second very positive poll for us with another recent one putting us neck and neck with Labour.

What I actually wanted to focus on today though is something that Stephen Glenn has already highlighted here. He fed these figures into the Electoral Calculus seat calculator and found:

On this opinion poll the Tories would have 327 seats, Labour on 209 and the Lib Dems with 82. So even having overhauled a sick Labour Party in the opinion polls the Lib Dems would still have less than half the seats. How the apologists for First Past the Post can call this a clear, simple, easy-to-understand outcome is beyond me. Even when they are in third place Labour would still maintain a strong second place in the number of seats. Just how safe are some of those that wear a red rosette?

Stephen is spot on here. What is great about this is that the figures are coming directly from current polling data from a reputable company.

I hope we get more polls like this and the more we do, the more we can do the seat calculations and draw people's attention to how those percentages would be translated into seats. I think when people start to understand that even though when the Lib Dems get more votes than Labour, Labour would get more than double their number of seats the argument for electoral reform will start to resonate much more loudly with people.

9 comments:

Kalvis Jansons said...

That is good news for the LibDems!

The current voting system is clearly wrong, but you will need quantum tunneling on a macroscopic scale to change it.

liquidindian said...

How would the number of seats look under different systems? Any easy way to tell?

Mark Reckons said...

It's not an exact science but under Single Transferable Vote with multi-member seats of between 4 and 6 members you would expect the result as described here to be roughly proportional.

Kalvis Jansons said...

Mark: do you think the UK will ever change from the current system? As far as I can see, the best time for a change is now, but the best time does not appear to be good enough.

David said...

"So for the first time since 1982 Labour are in 3rd place in the polls."

Mark, do you follow the polls a lot? Labour were in third place in one poll during the Expenses scandal, as well -- and they were further behind the Lib Dems, at 23% (Lib Dems 25%). That's only a few months back.

David said...

"It's not an exact science but under Single Transferable Vote with multi-member seats of between 4 and 6 members you would expect the result as described here to be roughly proportional."

Under STV, the election result in 1997 would have most likely granted Labour a majority according to surveys done prior to the election. Though far more moderate, it's hardly a proportional system, as it incorporates preferential voting.

Mark Reckons said...

David - I do try to follow the polls but that one is escaping me right now. Do you have a link? If I can get one then I will update the original post.

As for STV not being completely proportional, I agree but for various reasons that I have gone into before on here, for me it is the least worst system.

David said...

ICM/Sunday Telegraph 28 May 2009. I was mistaken, it was actually a three point lead over Labour -- they were on 22, not 23.

To a degree, I agree about STV -- certainly, I like the fact that it doesn't rely on a party mechanism to drive elections, although I will say that having tried to communicate how STV works to people on separate occasions, it is *very* difficult.

David said...

http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/voting-intention is the source -- although the dynamic graph itself doesn't show it, as they use some kind of averaging formuala to smooth out the trend of the polls.