UK General Election {2024-07-04}

We had a referendum where it was soundly rejected.

I can certainly see arguments in its favour, but we also have a system where we vote directly for our own member of Parliament, who in turn has a big responsibility towards their constituents. Proportional representation loosens that bond considerably.

I also think FPTP distorts the impression given in the results - we aren’t voting at a national level, so the national percentage share isn’t very revealing. People are voting for very varied reasons with local politics at play and a lot of tactical voting in action and this distorts the national picture. If it was a straight vote for ‘who do you want to be the national government’ the results would likely be quite different.

There was a referendum for Single Transferrable Vote (Alternative Vote) in the UK in 2011. The Liberal democrats wanted PR and this was the compromise they reached with the Conservatives in their Pact. It was comprehensively beaten.

It was mostly argued that the system was too complicated and people wouldn’t understand it. (writting 1,2,3. in the order you want candidates is beyond our mental capacity so instead we have to study the election chances of each candidate to ensure our vote is not wasted on the candidate we like most but instead vote for the person most likely to keep out the candidate we like least).

I can’t see it happening, at least any time soon, the Conservatives know at some point the electorate will get tired of Labour and under FFTP they are the only alternative, with PR (and to a lesser extend AV) they can not argue that a vote for reform / Lib Dems is a vote for Labor. Similarly the labor Party are currently doing very well out of FPTP and under another system they would probably have ot negotiate their policies with other parties weakening their impact.

It would seem from abroad that the National Parliament is not the right forum to deal with local issues, choosing MPs on parrochial debates is not the right method, IMO, to choose a national goverment, which is what the Westminster Parliament does. You tell me the voters don’t think of the big picture when voting? I’ll take your word for that, but it seems strange and short-sighted from afar.
And I would be interested in the small print of whatever was soundly rejected if I bothered to care. I would not be surprised if it was a trick question where the parties that expected to do better than their share of the vote in the next election told the voters to reject that proposal. Well, regarding those expectations I guess Labour was disappointed last time when Boris won and the Tories are disappointed today. There is one thing I see coming: Labour will be disappointed next time again if the opposition manages to unite or if one of the other parties, be it the Tories, the LibDems or the Fascists, falls into irrelevance (<3-5%).
Getting rig of FPTP would also eliminate that strange British game of four dimensional second guessing that they call “tactical voting” where people, if I understand it correctly, do not vote what they would like to win, but what they think could win in that constituency compared with what they fear would win if they voted what they really wanted. Proportional voting does away with that split voter personality, but I suspect many Brits have grown used to liking it that way, and I must admit it is a very good recipe for complaining about the government afterwards: even if you voted for them, you did not actually mean it, you would have rather voted for the proper party. But of course you couldn’t because your vote would have been wasted; it was much better to vote for second worst. Which, come to think of it, seems just like another type of wasted.
I’m glad I don’t have those problems where I vote: it is bad enough as it is with the choices I have.

Tactical voting isn’t a “strange British thing”. It shows up in any situation where voters are picking between three or more alternatives. It’s literally impossible to construct a voting system that does away with tactical voting: A mathematician named Arrow proved that.

If anything, it’s a lot more common in the US, where many people would actually prefer some third party or another, but instead vote for the Democrats or Republicans because those are the only parties that have a chance of winning.

OK, it is not a strange British thing, but the Brits have taken it to a stratopheric level and, if my experience is only remotely representative, really enjoy talking and complaining about it. And whereever in the USA tactical voting is also taken into consideration it is mainly because the voting by district and the electoral college and the like are a FPTP in more or less clear disguise.
I am only arguing that there are much better electoral systems than FPTP, even if no system is perfect.

A sentiment with which most thinking Americans would agree. If they ever thought about it.

In many not just national but sub-national legislatures, especially in places where they did not use to be on permanent or near-permanent sitting, but only be summoned to the capital for a couple of months or in an emergency, the rank-and-file member of the chamber evolved into having as their main occupation being the riding/district/constituency’s sort of “ombudsman” when having any sort of issue with the government agencies. And the citizens got used to liking it that way. Oh they will vote to boot the party when it comes to broad national policy (as hapoened), but they want a Member to be their member serving them.

All of this is a semi-consequence of most of what US city, country, and state government do being funded and standardized at the national level in the UK. There are no intermediate levels to provide those services. Or at least none with the heft to deliver real action or real change.

Once can certainly argue that the USA’s 50 states, dozen territories (loosely defined), ~4300 counties, and ~50K municipalities of all stripes is carrying decentralization just a wee bit too far.

But a single government that micromanages everything from Westminster while lower-level government is mostly a deliberately-hobbled lobbying agency to Westminster is maybe a bit too far the other way. Even given the smaller geography and smaller population of the UK.

Both of my word-pictures are exaggerated caricatures, and deliberately so. But they highlight the reason for the difference in constituents’ attitudes to the role of a Congressman versus an MP.

Even in the US, a lot of a Congressperson’s job is what’s called “constituent services”, which basically amounts to helping folks smooth out bureaucracy. And they can do this with any level of government. If you have a problem with how your property tax is assessed, for instance, you can take that up with your congressperson, and even though they don’t have the direct authority to do anything about it, they still have enough clout that it matters, when they talk to the folks who do have the authority.

IME this is not the case. A Congressional office is usually going to direct you to your elected representative at the appropriate level of government (e.g. state legislator, county commissioner) to resolve the issue. They may do a “warm handoff” by putting you in touch with them directly, but it’s that office that will actually work the case. And it’s a reciprocal arrangement – a state legislator who’s contacted by a constituent about the IRS will send them to their Congressperson’s office. Of course I can’t speak for all Congressional offices.

Somebody would have to make a complaint to the police and/or the Electoral Commission alleging electoral malpractice. A Tory candidate defeated by a number of votes less than the number of votes secured by a fictional Reform candidate would be well-positioned, and I think highly motivated, to make such a complaint. If the complaint was made, it would be followed up and investigated.

But, as I say, I’m willing to bet that the candidates are not fictional. They just didn’t campaign very hard, but there’s nothing illegal about that.

When the Blair government set up a commission to look at this, its background research on voters’ expectations turned up a number who thought an MP was legally empowered/obliged to order the local government around.

We may have a problem with formal education in civics…

The problem is, we don’t have any education in civics/politics (at least not before A Level). A large number of people will not have a clue how a lot of this all works.

YouGov have done an analysis of the vote with a post-election poll:

Interesting that higher earners voted Labour, but the elderly of course stayed Tory. It’s important to remember that earning does not represent wealth. A retired millionaire would have a low income!

I can think of two “solutions” off the top of my head.

First: do have a “vote for the party” election, but maintain the constituencies; each party must submit in advance a list of candidates that would represent particular constituencies (they don’t have to list 650 of them - in fact, independent candidates would represent just one), in the order in which they want them filled, and as the seats are distributed (my preferred method: whoever has the highest “total vote divided by (seats already won + 1)” value gets the next seat), whichever party gets the next seat gets the highest candidate on the list for a constituency not yet filled elected. Yes, this does run the risk of effectively “parachuting in” most MPs, and how much each will listen to “their” constituents can be a problem, but that’s about as close as you’re going to get to a “fair” system. Even Single Transferrable Vote is going to end up disproportionally in favor of the larger parties.

Second, replace the House of Lords with a Senate, which uses proportional representation by party; the only geographic restrictions would be for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. When was the last time the Lords did anything effective in terms of legislation, anyway?

I think it is more complex than the wealthy tend to vote Tory, though I agree a lot of tory voting pensioners pushed up there percentage of the vote among low income people.

Social grade is strongly correlated to wealth and that shows Reform got most of its votes from lower social grades but little difference for the other parties.

While public sector pay has gone down significantly in real terms under the Tories pensioners have been doing very well thanks to the triple lock (pensions rising at the highest of inflation, avg earnings or 2.5%) and were promising a £100 p.a. tax cut for pensioners if they won.

Older people tend ot also be more conservative with a small c in issues such as transgender rights, and therefore more inline with Conservative (big C) policy in those areas.