Tag Archives: STV

The Independent View: Our voting system’s rubbish

On May 4th, the one third of voters in England who can be bothered will traipse off to their local polling stations to vote in this year’s round of council elections. They will cheerfully sign away their democratic rights with an X and, if they think of it at all, many will assume that, if a party polls 4 out of 10 votes, the voting system will ensure that they win 4 out of 10 seats.

Unfortunately, our inefficient Victorian First-past-the-post voting system fails to achieve this, with disastrous consequences for English local government. On most English councils, seats taken fail to match votes cast.

And crucially, because the relevant statistics are not readily available, these injustices are not published by the media, and so go unnoticed by the electorate.

Accordingly, in an endeavour to draw attention to the damage being done to local democracy by continued use of the First-past-the-post-voting system (FPTP), I have compiled an Awful A-Z of English Council Election Disasters, comprising a summary of the results for all English local authorities listed in alphabetical order.

This list is available to view at www.supervote.org.uk which is a small website I run in aid of voting reform.  While it is essentially an amateur compilation, I believe this is the first time that a snapshot of the disparities between seats won and votes cast in all local elections across England has been attempted.

I am afraid the overall picture is quite shocking; some of these results are not so much undemocratic as downright obscene, far worse than the worst Westminster results.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 12 Comments

How we could solve technical difficulties with STV

Our party is proudly committed to the replacement of archaic First Past The Post with Single Transferable Voting, an electoral system which satisfactorily balances proportionality, local representation and voter choice.

However, a major roadblock to the introduction of STV for Westminster and English local elections would be quizzical or apprehensive attitudes amongst a sizable section of the British electorate over its precise technical details, which our party currently fails to address. As a party, we should develop our position on electoral reform by adopting more specific policies regarding technical details for STV.

Firstly, we Liberal Democrats should consider adopting as policy the requirement for a minimum number of candidates to be ranked, as currently mandated in elections for the Australian Senate and the Tasmanian House of Assembly. This would mean that voters would be required to rank at least as many preferences for candidates as there are available seats for their ballots to be deemed valid.

Whilst STV is designed to encourage split-ticket voting and foster political cooperation and moderation, FPTP would likely cast a long shadow for several parliamentary terms after being replaced. Some voters would probably vote solely for candidates from just one party, or even just for one candidate, with FPTP having imprinted upon them either a deeply engrained partisanship or an imperative to vote tactically, both of which are intrinsic components of said system.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 38 Comments

Alistair Carmichael election petition hearing to be broadcast live tomorrow

Two days of legal argument beckons as the next stage in the election petition against Alistair Carmichael in Edinburgh.

We won’t have to rely on journalists recounting the evidence, either. We’ll be able to see it all for ourselves as it’s broadcast live on STV. Here, from the STV website, is how to watch.

Broadcast You can watch on television on STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh. These can be found at Freeview channel 23, Sky channel 117 and Virgin channel 159 in both city TV broadcast areas.

The programme will start at 10am and feature full and uninterrupted coverage from the court.

There will be special coverage of the court case in STV News at Six and on Scotland Tonight from 10.30pm.

Online Visit the STV Player to watch the live programme from 10am. This is available on the STV Player app for both iOS and Android.

The Player stream is available only in the UK.

If you’re not already signed up to use the STV Player, now would be a good time to join.

STV News will offer live text updates from the court on this page.

Other media STV is making the broadcast footage available to other broadcast media via satellite link.

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Opinion: Progessive parties unite – for survival!

Through the grief and bereavement of last month’s election results, I have been trying to make some logical deductions about the future not just of the Lib Dems but the progressive forces in British politics. Try my logic and see if it works for you.

There may be about 8-12% of those who vote who are willing to support Lib Dem candidates (excluding protest votes). That percentage is fine as long as there’s PR. If there isn’t, we will struggle to have any influence, certainly at national level.

The only way we can get PR is if we have a main party in government willing to enact PR. And that main party has to get into government via first-past-the-post.

The Conservatives aren’t interested because they do very well without it, and will continue to do so. By contrast, Labour may be at the point of recognising that the only way a Labour prime minister can happen is via a coalition – and on that basis, Labour should be open to PR.

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The Independent View: Benefit the nation and the voters

If the Liberal Democrats get about half UKIP’s votes (8% against 14%) but about 10 times as many MPs 20 – 30 against 2 – 3), will the Liberal Democrats stand by their principals and demand electoral reform?  In particular, will they insist on the Single Transferable Vote (STV), which they have always recognized as the best voting system for voters?

The Liberal Democrats have had five years now to learn the hard way what some of us warned in 2010, based on our observations of continental Europe where coalitions are normal; the senior partner takes the credit for popular decisions and blames the junior partner for unpopular ones.

If the Liberal Democrats had got STV for this election as a condition of entering into coalition in 2010, they could now be looking at winning about 52 seats for about 8% of the vote.  Admittedly, UKIP might be expecting about 91 seats but, if that is what voters want, so be it.

The real point of electoral reform is not to benefit this or that party but to benefit the nation and the voters.

With electoral reform for this election, the SNP could expect about half the Scottish seats (30) for about half the Scottish votes instead of all the seats (59) for half the votes and not be in pole position now to hold the UK to ransom.  Please see David Green’s excellent exposition on for more on this.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 21 Comments

Opinion: STV for elections in England and Wales

In the words of the Electoral Reform Society’s current petition:
“It’s time to change the voting system for local elections in England and Wales. In 21st century democracies, election results should be determined by how people vote. Instead, Labour won 100% of seats in Manchester on 58% of the vote. The Conservatives won 62% of seats in Kingston on 35% of the vote. And the Liberal Democrats won 83% of seats in Sutton on 38% of the vote.”

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

STV report talks up Tory chances in seats the party has written off

The Scottish Conservatives meet in Edinburgh today for their Conference. The other day, the STV political correspondent filmed with them and talked up their chances in seats like Argyll and Bute and West Aberdeenshire. He can’t have realised that those seats are among five Lib Dem seats in Scotland that appear on the list of seats that the Tories are not targeting in Scotland as Mark Pack reported last week.

The Tories have also written off their chances in Edinburgh West, Ross, Skye and Lochaber and North East Fife.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott described the Tory leak as a “letter of surrender”:

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Did Charlie Whelan really put his cigarette into Ed Balls’ coke can?

The Telegraph has unearthed an STV documentary on the early days of Labour in the Treasury in 1997. It makes fascinating watching for all sorts of reasons. It feels not unlike an episode of The Thick of It, with Ed Balls a bit like Ollie Reeder to Whelan’s Malcolm Tucker. Everyone looks so young, Gordon Brown particularly.  Ed Miliband has become significantly less geeky over time, too.

The Telegraph article is full of derision for Labour’s removal of regulatory powers from the Bank of England.  That principle seems fine to me, and fairly logical. If you give the bank the power to set interest rates independently, then you need to get someone else to do the regulation. Labour’s failure to build an effectively regulatory framework for the banks can’t be pinned on that.

There is an arrogance about the way they went about it. The Permanent Secretary of the time was clearly worried about all this change. If you are going to reform, you need to just get on and do it, but they did seem to be enjoying smashing the established order a little bit too much.

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The Independent View: STV for local government in 2015!

STVactionThe Liberal Democrats’ mistake in 2010 was not to insist on STV for electing MPs – but merely to accept a referendum on a miserable little compromise – as a condition of entering into a coalition. This is not recriminatory. I appreciate the problems and pressures of negotiating a coalition and that senior Lib Dems wanted to create stability and help repair the damage to the economy.

I say it was a mistake not just with hindsight. I have believed it for about 50 years.

Posted in The Independent View | 42 Comments

The Independent View: How Lib Dems can achieve STV for local government

STVactionMay’s elections changed the political landscape to a four-party one and, if the old two-party First Past The Post (Winner takes All) voting system looked wobbly in a three-party system, it now looks totally discredited in a four-party system.

The recent election results gave credibility to the prediction of the recent New Statesman article that the result of the 2015 general election will be similar to that of February 1974 –  most votes for the Conservative Party but most MPs for the Labour Party. The crucial difference between 1974 and 2015 is that Labour will probably not even have the slim overall majority in 2015 that it had in 1974, hence another balanced parliament.

How would Liberal Democrats react? Recently Nick Clegg said “no” to another coalition at any cost. So what are the Lib Dem conditions?

Posted in The Independent View | 13 Comments

Opinion: 2016 is the year Bristol should adopt STV

Understanding the cycle of elections for local authorities can be a complicated process for the elector. Last year, a vote at Full Council resolved that Bristol City Council would change its cycle from ‘elections by thirds’ to whole council elections or ‘all ups’, to commence in 2016. This is a unique opportunity for Bristol to prove it’s not afraid for bold change and to introduce the Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system for elections to the council.

Turnout in local authority elections in England has always been lower than for Westminster elections. By introducing proportional representation in the form of STV, …

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Local elections in Scotland: the key battlegrounds

Every Council seat in Scotland is up for grabs tomorrow.  There are currently 152 Liberal Democrat councillors in 23 of the 32 local authorities, from the Highlands to Dumfries and Galloway. Liberal Democrats are participants in 13 coalition administrations.

Five years ago, there was some trepidation about how these coalitions would work. It was predicted that they would fall apart in months, but most have lasted the course. The naysayers were mainly from the Labour party, who had lost many of their traditional fiefdoms thanks to the introduction of STV, brought in at the insistence of the Liberal Democrats following the …

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Independent View: Time for Lib Dems to ditch STV

With the loss of the AV referendum, electoral reformers across Britain are now looking at what went wrong and what changes they can make for the future to ensure it doesn’t happen again. We need our political parties to do the same, and that means a re-evaluating their electoral reform policies.

As absurd as it is, the perceived complexity of AV was a significant factor in its rejection by the public. The whole concept of preferential voting has now been tainted for a generation as overly complicated. If we are to engage the public interest in the future we need to …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 52 Comments

Opinion: Go for STV!

I liked it when a woman asked Gordon Brown in a radio phone-in whether he would support the Tories or Lib Dems if no party had an overall majority and Labour came third. However, to be realistic, the chances are with our ridiculous voting system that Labour will come at least second in seats even if it is third in votes. So, if no party has an overall majority, the Lib Dems are more likely than any other to hold the balance. How would they use it? Could they achieve PR by STV with it? …

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Tweeting for STV

Like many former Liberals of a certain vintage, I was wooed to the cause of electoral reform by the diminutive but formidable figure of Enid Lakeman, who even at an advanced age could spear opponents with her logic and conviction. I wish she were around today to add her appraisal of whether Gordon Brown’s referendum on AV is a step forwards or a step backwards in the long march to Fair Votes.

As virtually everyone seems to be talking about ‘fairness’ these days, surely it is time that LibDems seized the moment and trumpeted our belief in STV? Moreover, we should …

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The Independent View: Three myths about PR – and one uncomfortable truth

Jason O’Mahony was a former activist and candidate for the now defunct Irish Progressive Democrats. He now blogs on politics at www.jasonomahony.ie .

Let’s be honest. In the darkest chambers of British psephologist hell, beneath the pit of Parliament Channel subscribers, and even deeper than the cavern of sweaty handed ‘I’ve just found a 1970 Enoch Powell election poster. In crisp condition!’ enthusiasts, there is a special place reserved for Proportional Representation aficionados. Even amongst political anoraks and people who feel passionately about Peter Snow they are the underclass.

Of course, as an Irish political activist, who has lived his entire …

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STV petition

Amongst the various petitions on the 10 Downing Street website is this one calling for STV for public elections (as Scotland is getting for its local elections in May).

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Recent Comments

  • Andy Chandler
    @Adam Ah, that's my bad on that. I misread it. Apologise about that. Part blame dyslexic tendencies (always came out as that despite three attempts to get it p...
  • David Symonds
    I find the adversarial politics in Britain to be highly depressing and corrosive. They are enforced and reinforced by the rotted First Past the Post voting syst...
  • Martin Gray
    @Alex Macfie..Whatever the reason, this individual felt the need to assassinate a democratically elected head of government. As Mary has pointed out - those t...
  • Adam
    @ Andy Not "invented" but "inverted"! https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/inverted_snobbery...
  • tom arms
    @ Ian Sanderson: Normally I would agree with your assessment, but in the case of Robert Fico, in the first elections after 1991 he was elected to parliament as ...