NO FAIRER SOCIETY WITHOUT FAIR VOTING. IT'S JUST NOT POSSIBLE.
Our new post integrates the factual outcomes of the 2019 UK Election with our own commentary. The political significance of the election was massive so we feel especially obligated to highlight the glaring anomalies and inconsistences our first-past-the-post electoral system reliably throws up election after election. The mainstream media tends not to acknowledge to itself any such responsibility. When you read UK Election 2019 - a Different Angle it will provide you with a very different perspective from theirs.
In November we wrote:
"One can only grit one's teeth and wonder if we will one day rise above the neurosis and schizophrenia and the country return to some version of relative sanity. Maybe there is a sense to be made of it, perhaps the only one that stands any scrutiny. Does any party want to win this election? The grim 2020 prospect for the one that does is taking on the burden of the next phases of Brexit. That agonising drawn out affair is far more likely to make villains than heroes."
Whether any consolation will come about if the Tory Party comes unstuck on Brexit is one thing. Finding any sort of silver lining in their gaining an unexpectedly large 80 seat majority is another. It is total parliamentary domination and the worst possible result for electoral reformers who want proportional representation.
Spain: we had some unfinished business over the Spanish November election results. It wasn't clear whether the turn out was 69% or 65%. As it happens the newest publication of the official results is showing it at 66.2%. On further investigation it looks like the published statistics for the April 2019 election suffered from similar aberration. We had first recorded it at 75.7% but it's now been changed to 71.8%.
We are not suggesting that any deliberate manipulation has occurred in the Spanish case but this is a reminder of how reliant we are on officially released data. We are in an age where it is increasingly possible for misleading and inaccurate data to be circulated.
We will shortly republish our table with the up to date data for both the Spanish and the UK elections.
September 2019: Shipwrecking PR on the Rocks of Brexit
September 2019: A Big Opportunity to Push for PR
November 2017: 2017, Year of 7 European Elections.
December 2016: FPTP change; stuck in a snowdrift?
Keep up to date here with the case for electoral reform. This site has a valid security certificate. Please contact us if you experience any difficulty.
The statistical outcomes of the 5 May 2005 UK General Election: looking back on 2005 ushers you into a political realm where reason and reality don't seem to make sense. New Labour obtained power with a fantastic 66 seat majority after landing just one in five of the available electoral votes.
To help with better understanding of this extraordinary level of distortion, we display results and analysis for the 2005 election in the Statistics option on the menu bar, along with data for the 2001, 2010, 2015 and 2017 elections (for a wider range of data and information you can also visit the Electoral Reform Society website).
As far as fairness is concerned, 2005 was as if a syndicate had somehow got away with a lottery jackpot win by matching three numbers. At Party HQ that night, the celebratory smiles hovering over the champagne glasses must have conveyed mixed feelings of delight and bemusement.
This website is called 5.5.5 & Counting because we are now fourteen years on with three more elections behind us and our democracy is still waiting for change. Supporters of this website want electoral reform which achieves two things without delay:
- the end of first-past-the-post, the system that is a convenient mechanism for levering into power one or other of Tory and Labour, the country's largest but, as our statistics show, two parties that combined have only once in this century gained more than 50% support
- a proper proportional voting system which achieves fairness for voters by reflecting national voting intentions
We'd welcome your comments on all our posts and, meanwhile, Click here for more detail on what we're about.
5 May 2005
This chart shows the pattern of voting in the UK election general election held on December 12 2019.
Compared this chart with the charts for the previous five elections: 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2017. After a well established pattern of voting was broken in 2017, there has been a recovery to a familiar looking chart. Labour were the biggest losers and after four consecutive defeats in ten years during a period of wages stagnation must be wondering about their relevance. The other, smaller parties made a decent recovery from their low point in 2017.
The following table goes into more detail. The Tories increased their numerical vote by only 1% compared to 2017 but the electoral system has somehow conspired to give them an 80 seat majority. Last time they were eight seats short of a working majority and had to strike up an arrangement with the DUP.
What hardly ever changes irrespective of votes cast at the ballot box is the percentage of seats held in parliament by the two largest parties, Tory and Labour. It looked in the first half of 2019 as if they were ready to split into four parties such were the depths of the rifts in each. Both leaderships must have made concerted efforts to prevent the unthinkable – that the country might need to evolve to a system of proportional representation. The fact that the UK is leaving the EU in January will help reassure our political duopoly that such an alarming prospect is now in the long grass.
The 2019 UK Election – a Different Angle.
The 2019 UK election was teed up to enable or not Brexit, the most enormous constitutional change in the lifetimes of UK citizens. 45.79 million people were registered to vote. 33% of them stayed away. As usual in UK general elections, non-voter was the largest electoral bloc.
Only 21.5% voted for Labour, a miserable runners-up result that sends them back to Westminster powerless. They knew the risks, the dire popularity rating of their leader and the ever favourable polls for Johnson. Two points:
a) the exact same percentage share in 2005 gave Labour a 66 seat majority with 720,000 fewer votes. Abandon reason and embrace irony and pain all who pledge alliance with FPTP!
b) this site wrote in 2017 that Labour would have to lose a fourth consecutive election before bringing itself round to supporting PR.
So zero sympathy for Labour from us. There’s every chance they’re still too obstinate to learn. Nor probably do they yet appreciate as four-time losers how close they are to political irrelevance.
Smaller parties than Labour gained altogether 15.9% of the electorate’s support, bouncing back fairly well from a nadir last time. The ‘massive return to two-party politics’ claim made a good soundbite in 2017 but turns out to have been mostly wishful thinking by FPTP shills.
Small party support included 670,000 votes for Leave parties. The winner of the FPTP 2019 round of the lottery was of course the Tory Party with 29.4%. It had morphed itself into the big hitter for the Brexit cause. FPTP 2019 gave it an 80 seat outright majority. But, a passing detail perhaps worth a mention. It attracted only 340,000 more votes compared to 2017 when eight seats short of a majority it had to bung the DUP £1 billion to get it over the line.
The reality we arrive at via these many paths of twisted logic and reason is the one where the UK, total population 67 million, will now be leaving the EU with the express support of 14.64 million of its citizens. Put another way, in the direct context of the ballot, 69.2% of the electorate did not vote to leave the EU. Critics will dispute this as bending the statistics but we won’t let them write off cheaply the suppression of turnout that comes with FPTP. We provide plenty of evidence for that effect elsewhere on this site. Nor can they deny the fact that just among those who voted, a majority of 54% voted against Leave parties.
The only route that Brexit minority had available to force what they wanted through was the FPTP electoral system. The Tory Party knew that and how to hold out at all costs against the second referendum that would have kept us in the EU. An assortment of opposition bench MPs hooked into some baffling belief in a higher moral and political calling and gave the Tories a crucial leg-up. The country has been burrowing away these last four years – meaning England to all intents and purposes – and now the rabbit hole has opened wide.
What’s worse for this website, the last minute manifesto the Tories pasted together – by which time all the signs were it was not going to end up anything less than the largest party – includes their commitment to retaining FPTP. No surprise but it’s on page 48 nestled beside worrying things they’re proposing to do with the constitution. As the drafts were being circulated, the buzz must have been ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’.
So reform of the electoral system should not be ruled out. It’s just that it won’t be in the direction of PR with fair votes, but to make FPTP even less representative of the will of the electorate than it already is. Moves like that are of a sort that should naturally have been expected to flow from a populist, hard-right administration. They will pan out much in keeping with the scenario predicted on this site a few months back. Some of the detail has panned out unexpectedly but the grim generality is primed ready to go. See Part 1 here.
This website, like the opposition parties, probably needs to have a rethink about its own purpose and relevance over the next five or ten years. That’s a subject for another post. For the time being, we invite you to click the link here to check the raw facts of the 2019 election: Chart and Table
People Aged 18-30: if you are concerned about the global environmental future…
Don’t let the UK general election pass you by.
The choice you make will make a huge difference.
Above, three people who care a lot
Below, one man who cares very little
Opposition party zero carbon targets are 15-20 years more urgent than the Conservative Party’s. That’s a big chunk of anyone’s lifetime.
Google page 12 of Labour’s manifesto, page 6 of the Green Party’s and page 55 of the Conservative’s and see the stark difference.
The Conservatives don’t care about Fair Votes for people either. Their manifesto on page 48 remains committed to the first-past-the-post system. They like it because they hate not having all the power in their hands. The Conservatives have an innate dread of coalition and partnership working.
They’re bent on doing down the 48% who voted Remain and they think nothing of 20 million plus people in safe seats whose votes cannot make a difference at every first-past-the-post election.
Not turning out to vote against the Conservatives is like consenting to the sacrifice of up to two decades of urgent action on climate targets.
Four late 2019 General Elections
UK: the incomprehensible murk that is British politics grew darker a few weeks back when the opposition parties meekly gave way to Prime Minister Johnson’s desperate demands for an election. His bill went through parliament with no amendments such as voting for 16-17 year olds and for EU citizens living in the UK. It was a cheap surrender of the control they had over Johnson’s minority government and at a time the opinion polls were favourable to Johnson’s Tory party. How so after him having reneged on his core, do-or-die commitment to leave the EU on 31 October? There simply is no real sense to be made of the British political dynamic at the moment.
Something of a mockery of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, 2011 showed up when it was easily circumvented with a bill which the House can decide on a simple majority vote. Whatever the principle of the Act was, it must have been a highly tradeable one because after the parliament that introduced it, Westminster has got nowhere near another full term.
Logic is broken too. Massive objections have been raised all along at the prospect of a second referendum on the basis it could return the same tight, indecisive result as the first one. This election could with equal likelihood return us to a hung, indecisive parliament but no murmur or comment of objection has been uttered. Our recent hung parliament has been abused scathingly by the Tories as blocked, paralysed and dead.
One can only grit one’s teeth and wonder if we will one day rise above the neurosis and schizophrenia and the country return to some version of relative sanity. Maybe there is a sense to be made of it, perhaps the only one that stands any scrutiny. Does any party want to win this election? The grim 2020 prospect for the one that does is taking on the burden of the next phases of Brexit. That agonising drawn out affair is far more likely to make villains than heroes.
Perhaps the only person who is sincere about wanting power is Jeremy Corbyn. But it is widely agreed that his Labour party would have stood a better chance with another leader. One with less dire personal poll ratings; one with a more straightforward position on remaining in the EU. His own parliamentary party hasn’t made a visible effort to replace him. Doesn’t that send a signal they too aren’t keen to take a turn carrying the poison chalice? Brexit has already killed off countless ministers, let alone two Prime Ministers.
Three other elections: they have already taken place in Spain, Portugal and Poland. They will be of little more interest to the British public at the moment than this website’s raison d’être, electoral reform. Nonetheless, they are each worth a quick mention for different reasons.
Spain: it’s a frequent event updating Spanish elections but our revised table will continue to show the April 2019 result for now. This is because the returns from the November event don’t compute with the number of registered voters. Whatever, though, it looks like voter tedium has set in. Turnout has fallen from a very healthy 76% down to either 69% or 65%, depending on which is the verified figure. We hope to be in a position to clarify in due course.
Poland: this election showed a massive increase in turnout, up from 51% to 62%. Such an increase repesents over three million new voters and challenges the level of credibility we can give the official returns from the 2015 election – or this one.
Portugal: turnout was already at a very low level in the 2015 election but has plummeted further to 49%. This is at the same time as a very large increase in voter registration of one million – in other words a 10% increase in the electorate! Without further information it would be guesswork trying to explain the glaring contradiction between voter intention and actual participation.
We hope you will find our update of the EU participation table here of interest:
For a full explanation of the table and its uses CLICK HERE.
A big opportunity for a push towards Proportional Representation now presents
The opposition parties’ cooperative achievement in parliament has been remarkable. They and all of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to the admirable 21 Tory MPs who have risked sacrificing their party career futures.
But even allowing for the 21, the government’s working majority is history. Painfully aware of this, it is transparently in bullying and cajoling mode trying to force a general election. Its poll ratings – inexplicably to some of us – look promising. They look unstoppable if you factor in a last-minute pact with the Brexit Party.
So far, the opposition parties are not biting. With a will they can organise themselves not only to turn down an early election but to hold one off for a long time. Let’s suppose, without taking anything for granted yet, that their efforts do end up materialising the following three conditions:
no deal is dead and buried this side of an election
a referendum with remain on the ballot is a collectively agreed policy
Article 50 is extended
The first two, once in place, make the EU extremely amenable to the third. We have the ingredients for a government of national unity (GNU). Why not keep the reactionary, confrontational populist leadership on the other side pinned where it can do little harm?
A GNU is not without problem but with the three conditions in place, it seems stupid to let it fall purely on the leadership issue. For short term purposes, that is relatively trivial alongside other far more significant aims and objectives. In other words, don’t get hung up on compromise, get down to negotiation.
Let’s start with electoral reform. The Liberal-Democrats: What’s wrong with ‘We want two or three in the cabinet but we aren’t that fussy about who leads provided that we get a meaningfully defined push towards real PR effected in the remainder of this parliament.’
The SNP: ‘We want three or four in the cabinet but we aren’t that fussy about who leads provided none here opposes our plans for Indy 2 nor interfere in campaigning north of the border,’ adding, ‘Scots are old enough and ugly enough to make up their minds on their own. And yes, despite the fact that we have benefited from FPTP, we also want PR because it is democratically fair.’
Labour: ‘We would want to lead and it is right, from our perspective, that Jeremy heads it. We have some red lines on policies we want to introduce early on. Here they are…….Agree to those and we could potentially steer things steadily towards a referendum in the spring. Condition is that we retain unity and we don’t start arranging alliances within alliances until the Brexit issue has cleared.’
Minor parties and independents: support could be crucial. A few are known to have wanted electoral reform for some time. A few more might now be seeing the need for it in the light of the current constitutional and trust crises and the troubling limitations of two-party politics exposed by Brexit Most would favour a delayed election and very few do not want a referendum.
The 21: Would favour a referendum and a delayed election; presumably they have a lot of work to do first bringing their party back to ‘all nation Conservatism’ (their term not ours). Immersive working with Labour is out of the question. Issue by issue support on Brexit related decision making, however, is very feasible.
If there is no current legal or constitutional barrier to GNU containing the Tory-DUP pact powerless as late as 2022 if judicious to do so, surely the advantage has to be used. The opposition parties are already in the driving seat.
They must calm down and think carefully about how much they need to risk an early election:
this side of Brexit or a referendum, do Labour seriously think they can win enough votes to form the largest party?
look at the polls – where on Earth are they going to pick up the necessary votes from?
at this point, how can an election focus much attention away from issues other than unresolved Brexit?
the heat and volatility of the current situation is treacherous – this is not a re-run of 2017.
how can anyone block the Tories and BXP from forming a last minute pre-election pact?
imagine parliament when they install a populist stooge as speaker.
what chance of a referendum if the populists win the election?
what chance of Indy2 if English nationalistic populism gets a hold on power, and then the Scots will be wanting it desperately?
As far as this website is concerned, the most important issue of all. We’ve already said leave the EU and the chances for reform to PR slip deep down into the pan. Let the right-wing authoritarians get established and we risk things actually going in the opposite direction to PR. The base support loves “strongman government that will break the rules”.
We have an analogy for opposition parties spurning the opportunities when those three precious conditions above are in place. They would be like a small group of prisoners all in the ninth year of an eleven year sentence who have somehow managed to overpower and tie up the governor. Now instead of holding the governor hostage and negotiating a safe and careful passage to the outside they make a dash for the twenty foot tall front gate and try to scale it. They have at best a one in three chance of escaping and at least a two in three risk of capture. The penalty for failure is straight back to the cells with another five years added, all privileges withdrawn.