I wish I could believe all the hype. I wish that polls (other than Murdoch sponsored and obviously biased ones) could be relied on. I wish that all the voting intentions as stated on Twitter were indicative of the country as a whole. And I wish that my vote could actually count.
I will be voting in the UK General Election today. I’ve been trying to teach my children about our incredibly complicated political system. So far, they know which are the main political parties and who their leaders are; who we will be voting for, who we MOST DEFINITELY WILL NOT be voting for and who we’d be willing to put up with!
I will be voting not only for the party which I genuinely believe shares more of my views than any other, but also for the party which promises a chance of more fairness in the voting system in the future. Have you guessed yet? In case you’ve not seen my avatar on Twitter recently;
I’m fed up with a huge proportion of the popular vote counting for nothing. In my own constituency, Cardiff South and Penarth, Labour haven’t been defeated since the war. It’s a very safe Labour seat (put it this way, if Labour lose here, they’re REALLY in trouble!), with Alun Michael getting nearly 23% more of the vote at the last election than the next candidate down, with a 46.6% share of the vote*. But this is my point. How is it right that 53.4% of the electorate can be ignored? I know that our Parliamentary system means that we don’t live in a true democracy, and that it couldn’t be achieved as there simply isn’t room in the House of Commons for us all to vote on every issue! But surely there should be a fairer way to return candidates to Parliament than the first past the post system. Where I used to live, in Ceredigion, the Member of Parliament was returned after achieving just 36.5% of the votes recorded*. And even though Mr Williams is a Liberal Democrat MP, I can’t accept that only taking just over of a third of the votes into account can be the best way to represent the people.
I believe that some form of proportional representation is the best way forward. Now that we’re not such a ‘local’ society as we were before the advent of the internet (and probably much earlier than that when we could easily travel quickly from place to place) I’m sure that we don’t need such specific constituencies.
I quite simply can’t believe how we have put up with this voting system for so long. This voting system which (according to one recent poll) gives Labour 257 seats for a 28% share of the vote, where the Liberal Democrats, with a projected 27% of the voting public behind them can only hope for 80 seats! It is absolute craziness and I cannot see how it can be allowed to continue. Obviously, the only reason it has been allowed to carry on this long is because it suits the two larger parties down to the ground to be able to get more seats with their share.
I’m absolutely certain as well that many people vote for their second choice of party or candidate because they don’t believe that their first choice could actually win. And so they are voting more to keep out a party than to elect who they really want. (I can fully understand the idea of voting to keep out the Conservatives, by the way, the thought of a Tory majority in the morning is very depressing!)
So, I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat knowing full well that in all probability my vote will count for very little in this election. I’m reasonably certain that Alun Michael will return to Westminster and resume his job as my MP, even with the support of less than half of his voting constituents. But I’m thinking in the long term. I am indeed voting for change. I want the country to wake up tomorrow and for whoever is in government to have to face up to the fact that our electoral system is not working. I sincerely hope that all the Lib Dem supporters get out the vote and are brave enough to vote for who they want rather than who they think they could get. I want a hung Parliament with all the constitutional arguments that this would provoke. And I want my children to be able to vote for a truly representative House of Commons. So I’m not settling for second best with my vote. I’m supporting Dominic Hannigan in Cardiff South and Penarth and Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat party for the 2010 UK General Election. I’m voting for real change, rather than a change back to the 1980s!
*data from the BBC News website, based on more recent boundary changes and how they would have affected the proportion of the vote.