Tuesday, November 02, 2010

First Past What Post?

As many reader will now I now reside in North Down won in May by Sylvia, Lady Hermon with 63.3% of the vote. I also stood in Linlithgow and East Falkirk where Michael Connarty beat me and the rest of the field once again, gaining 49.8% of the vote.

Now these are both exceptional cases where in one case the MP has gained a majority of the vote and in the other were even on a preferential system you would expect that the First Past the Post (FPTP) candidate would have been elected. No doubt some of 3rd or 4th place candidates votes would either not have transferred or enough would have to make up that small short fall.

However, what is the post of which FPTP advocates are so keen to defend?

It is off course a movable entity. Take for example another constituency I know reasonably well, indeed I was looking to represent the Southern part of it next May, Edinburgh North and Leith. There the winning post in 2005 was painted red for Mark Lazarowicz with 14,597 votes. Kevin Lang in 2010 took a total of 16,016 on day when the Labour vote was going down on five years previously across the country. Did this reach the post first? No. Because Lazarowicz had moved to 17,740.

The alternative vote does mean that the post is set in stone, at 50% of the vote either as with Lady Hermon cast for you as the first preference or as in the majority of seats as a reflection of the public's additional preferences. AV is actually more of a first past the post system than FPTP, because it has a post that is unchanging, and a post that you need to aim for, rather than a moving line in the sand washed by the political tide.

PS As you may be able to tell I've spent some time on this issue over the past week. No prizes for guessing why. If you want to get involved in the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign visit their website.

UPDATE: I should really not be surprised that Micheal was also thinking along these lines today now should I?

2 comments:

gyronny said...

I agree with you - see my post here...
http://michaelcampbell.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/11/02/when-40-equals-the-winner/

But also, Please, Please, Please it's either "Lady Hermon" or "Sylvia, Lady Hermon" - she is not the daughter of a Duke, Marquess, or Earl!

Stephen Glenn said...

Yeah I will have to add a link to your post. Didn't know it existed when I wrote this.

As for your title pedantry a wise man once told me pobody's nerfect ;)

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