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Westminster first-past-the-post elections an outdated anomaly

August 8, 2021 5:02 PM
By Bryan Lewis

Electoral reform campaigners say the use of first-past-the-post in UK general elections is an "outdated anomaly". Analysis shows a "huge contrast" with proportional representation elections in Wales, Scotland and London.

The Electoral Reform Society marked the anniversary of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997, which it said, "paved the way for PR-elected devolved governments".

The report, backed by Labour MP Clive Lewis, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat former Welsh deputy first minister Baroness Randerson, compared outcomes from PR against FPTP systems in the different areas over the past two decades.

It found that in the last seven general elections, the largest party in Scotland won on average 75% of the seats in the Commons with 43% of the vote; the largest party won 45% of seats in Holyrood, using PR, on 37% of regional list votes.

In Wales, the last seven Westminster elections have resulted in the leading party receiving 71% of the seats based on just 44% of votes cast. In Senedd elections, the largest party has won on average 48% of votes on 34% of regional lists votes.

The last seven UK general elections have seen the largest party take on average 66% of the seats in London, based on winning only 46% of the votes. The largest party has won on average 42% of seats based on 35% of the regional list vote in the six London Assembly elections in the same period.

PR in Scotland, Wales and London gives all voters a voice and having politicians that work together to get things done and is a far cry from the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster. Our electoral system is out of sync with the culture and people it's supposed to serve and represent.

We need a shift away from a "one-party-takes-all" approach at Westminster to a proportional system. English voters are being left behind by our voting system.