The Stolen Seats

Another First Past The Post election has failed to deliver a fair result. With parties winning up to 36 more (or fewer) seats than their share of the vote would suggest, it is time to Make Votes Matter!

A big thank you to Graham Ellis, an administrator of the Great Western ‘Coffee Shop’ forum for posting a useful summary of the 2017 general election results. His post shows the number of seats each party would have won if they were allocated based solely on the percentage of votes cast for each party nationwide. He posted before the results from the final seat, Kensington, had been released but it gives an idea of how much the outcome of the election was influenced by the First Past The Post system. Being based on single-member constituencies, this inevitably distorts the results.

Party Proportion* Seats Won** Difference
Conservative 282 318 36
Labour 260 262 2
SNP 19 35 16
Liberal Democrats 48 12 -36
DUP 6 10 4
Sinn Fein 3 7 4
Plaid Cymru 3 4 1
Green Party 10 1 -9
UKIP 11 0 -11
SDLP 2 0 -2
Ulster Unionists 2 0 -2

* Graham Ellis’ calculation of how many votes went to the party out of every 650 votes, excluding Kensington.
** Including Kensington which went to Labour with a narrow majority of just 20 votes, so this result probably would not have had an effect on the proportions above.

Make Votes Matter pie charts showing another un-proportional UK election result
Graphical Representation: if the table above isn’t clear enough, these pie charts from Make Votes Matter may better illustrate the situation

From the table I have constructed, you could say that First Past The Post (FPTP) stole 36 seats from the Liberal Democrats and gave them to the Conservative Party. The Scottish nationalists and, to a lesser extent, their Welsh counterparts also benefited from the voting system on this occasion, despite the SNP having won fewer seats than in 2015. As well as the poor-old Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party have suffered at the hands of FPTP. The Conservatives, with the support of the DUP, have a chance of power but less than half the votes.

Another way of looking at it is that Caroline Lucas effectively speaks for 10 constituencies worth of voters, and the population of 11 constituencies has no voice at all since no UKIP MPs were elected. That doesn’t really work though, because MPs are not really allowed to deal with correspondence from non-constituents (they may not have enough time to do so anyway), so Green supporters outside the Brighton Pavilion constituency have no voice either.

Campaign group ‘Make Votes Matter’, and others, continue to fight against the FPTP system and the former are holding an event on 24th June. With the Tories now in a weak position, perhaps a breakthrough for their movement is now a strong possibility.

National demonstration to demand that First Past The Post be ended
Save Our Democracy: Make Votes Matter event notification

Graham’s Coffee Shop post can be found here.

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