When Does an Election Become an Undemocratic Lottery?

The basic premise of British democracy is that if anyone at all votes, an election is deemed to be democratic. Therefore if only three people vote and one candidate receives two votes, that’s enough. Even if the electorate is 64,831. Where should the line be drawn?1 Let’s consider two recent parliamentary by-elections.

1) Old Bexley and Sidcup2 2nd December, 2021

Louie French (Con) 11,189 (51.48%)
Daniel Francis (Lab) 6,711 (30.88%)
Richard Tice (Reform) 1,432 (6.59%)
All other candidates lost their deposits

Turnout: 33.5% Electorate 64,831

When the base figure of the electorate is used, Louie French’s 51.5% victory shrinks to:

Louie French (Con) 11,189 (17.2%) with 82.8% of the electorate not voting for him.

2) North Shropshire3 16th December, 2021

Helen Morgan (LD) 17,957 (47.14%)
Neil Shastri-Hurst (Cons) 12,032 (31.59%)
Ben Wood (Lab) 3,686 (9.68%)
All other candidates lost their deposits

Turnout: 46.3% Electorate 82,3144

When the base figure of the electorate is used, Helen Morgan’s 47.1% victory shrinks to,

Helen Morgan (LD) 17,957 (21.8%) with 78.2% of the electorate not voting for her.

Discussion

Britain has a winner takes all system. No account is taken of the size of the constituency or percentage vote. The system is brutally simple. In a binary political scene this can sort-of be justified. But Britain long ago ceased to be a two party political country.5 The current (2021) parliament has 12 separate identified groups. This is despite the barriers that the binary system erects.

Neither victorious candidate achieved anything remotely close to a mandate. In fact, they were unloved by the vast majority of the electorate. Britain’s undemocratic elections result in governments at odds with the will of the people. They promote extremism. None of this is a novel insight but change won’t happen. MPs voting for proportional representation would be voting against the system which rewarded them. They’d be turkey’s voting for Christmas.

Notes

1 The Sorites Paradox (problems of vagueness) | Odeboyz’s Blog (oedeboyz.com) On the 4th November 2021 a council by-election in Salford had a turnout of 10% Labour wins by-election – but only 1 in 10 people voted in one of lowest turnouts in council’s history – Manchester Evening News

2 2021 Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election – Wikipedia Old Bexley and Sidcup 2nd December 2021 Boris gets a bloody nose in Bexley: Tory majority is slashed to 4,478 (msn.com)

3 North Constituency Count Spreadsheet.xlsx (shropshire.gov.uk)

4 The enormous disparity in the size of the two electorates is 17,483 or a stonking 26.96%. Old Bexley and Sidcup is tiny in comparison to North Shropshire, which automatically means any victor there will probably need fewer votes to become an MP. This is another part of the undemocratic nature of British elections.

5 State of the parties – MPs and Lords – UK Parliament

This entry was posted in Philosophy, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to When Does an Election Become an Undemocratic Lottery?

  1. Pingback: Havering’s Vibrant Democracy – Politics in Havering

  2. anicow says:

    I am amaze with these facts.. Thanks

    • odeboyz says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      It’s one thing identifying the problem it’s quite another working out what to do about it, especially as the people (MPs) who would have to do it are the main beneficiaries.

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