Jul 062024

So various places are now filling up with articles whining about how if MPs were selected by the share of the vote, Labour would have gotten far fewer MPs and the minority parties (such as ReformUK whose voters seem particularly dumb) would have gotten more.

For example, Labour got 412 MPs with just 34% of the vote; if they had 34% of the MPs, they would have just 221 MPs which would require a coalition to obtain a majority. On the opposite side of the equation, ReformUK got 5 MPs (far too many!) with 14.3% of the vote which would have gotten them

But there’s two aspects to the unfairness of the results :-

  1. We don’t have proportional representation. Labour doesn’t put that much effort into constituencies that are their safest seats or those they’ll never win. A win in a seat with a 20,000 majority is worth no more than a seat with a majority of 1. To a very great extent, sensible political parties have been practicing “tactical campaigning” for a very long time.
  2. This election has probably seen more tactical voting than has ever been seen before – backed by a massive campaign, this has probably seen quite a few Labour voters (for example) voting for Liberal Democrats in constituencies where that makes the most sense to get rid of the Tories (and visa versa). So the share of the Labour vote is suppressed; probably a surprising amount.

That’s glossing over the fact that many supporters of smaller parties (such as the Greens) have been voting tactically for decades – I’ve often voted Labour when I’d rather vote Green.

You will see pretty pictures of what parliament would look like if MPs were allocated according to voter share – they’re all completely fictional. Voting would be quite different if we really allocated MPs according to the proportion of votes. So that kind of speculation is rather pointless.

But it does highlight the need for proportional representation.

Tunnel of Arches