Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Tories made their FPTP bed - now they must lie in it

Disappointing piece from Daniel Hannan today in The Telegraph which essentially boils down to:

"Don't vote for UKIP, you'll let Labour in".

Please forgive me if I am somewhat unsympathetic to the current Tory plight. If UKIP do surge and get as many votes as polls are suggesting then yes, it is very likely that eventually it will cost the Conservatives a number of seats that they would otherwise have won and yes the vote on the right could be split in a number of places allowing a more centrist or left-wing candidate to come through the middle.

This section of Hannan's piece leapt out at me:

..consider the recent Eastleigh by-election. Two Right-of-Centre candidates stood on virtually identical platforms. Both wanted an In/Out referendum, and both would have voted to leave. Between them, they secured 53 per cent of the vote, and lost, handing the seat to a Euro-integrationist Lib Dem with 32 per cent.

That is indeed exactly what happened in Eastleigh. It is also exactly what those of us who campaigned for a Yes vote on AV repeatedly tried to explain is one of the major weaknesses of First Past the Post which is eliminated with a preferential system.

But of course the Conservative Party were dead against changing from our current system. So they have to take the consequences under FPTP. If this means they end up losing lots of seats because of a surge to UKIP then so be it.

They've made their bed. They can now lie in it.

2 comments:

martijn said...

Hear, hear.

I've always thought that the Lib Dems should have been both more aware and more vocal about how there were many cases in which they benefit from FPTP.

hairyears said...

Eastleigh is an interesting one: in all but one of the last six electiins for the seat, the voting share of the secondary Conservative candidate has been the Lib-Dem's margin of victory over the primary Conservative candidate.