Britain’s new political map is simple. Just take a look. We have a blue south, a red north, and a few spots of yellow in between.
But it’s not a map most voters would recognise as legitimate after last week’s broken election. Whole counties and cities are now the personal property of one party. Once again First-Past-the-Post has generated results that stretch the idea of ‘representative’ democracy to breaking point.
So we’ve had a look – modelling the systems currently on the table in coalition talks. There are whispers of Tory pledges on AV. There are pretty loud shouts from Labour that Clegg might get AV without a public vote, and possibly STV at a future referendum.
So let’s take a look at the numbers. (Full data is available here)
Nationally the picture is much as we’d expect. AV would have made a negligible difference to the parliament produced by last Thursday’s election, short of giving every MP a real mandate. STV on the other hand would be a major step to restore credibility back to representative government, by ensuring that our parliament that actually looks like Britain.
But regionally the picture is starker. Lets’ take a look at two regions, and the varied fortunes of the 2 big parties.
The South East
South East England’s political map is bright Blue. But that’s not quite how the all those voters who backed other parties see it. AV does a little something for them, but a single seat changing hands, but STV levels the playing field. The Tories get the bulk of seats, but Labour have a presence, and Lib Dems could more than quadruple their presence.
Just like the song they don’t seem to sing anymore, the North East is deepest Red. AV again does little to address the balance, while STV actually hands Lib Dems and the Tories more seats between them then the party that currently ‘owns’ the region.
STV is a historical commitment for the Lib Dems. We’re hoping their memory serves them as they stand on the cusp of power.
PS: At the onset of the campaign, we published the names of the winners in nearly 400 safe seats. We called these ‘victories’ an affront to democracy. Even with the most fluid election in generations 380 seats came in as called.
Well we’re sorry that we got 3 wrong. But we’re more concerned for the tens of millions of voters that, despite the most unpredictable contest in generations, didn’t see an election. That’s safe seats for you!
PPS: Since we began on this post the PM has resigned. For those who think reformers deal in fantasy politics, think again.