The problem with FPTP

Today the new leader of UKIP Diane James made her first speech as party leader.

James spoke of the party’s success in helping to bring about the EU referendum and the subsequent Leave vote. It’s a phenomenal success for a party which has had to contend with Britain’s First Past the Post system.

FPTP favours the long-established Conservative and Labour parties to the detriment of newer parties.

“The most disproportionate election in history”

In the 2015 General Election, UKIP and the Greens suffered the most under FPTP. 3.9 million voters (3,881,099) voted UKIP, while another 1.2 million voters (1,157,613) supported the Greens.

Both parties have the combined support of over 5 million voters (5,038,712). Any yet they have just 2 MPs between them.

Meanwhile, the SNP benefited the most from FTPT. Its 1.5 million voters (1,454,436) acquired 56 SNP MPs. On average that’s 1 SNP MP representing just 25,972 voters.

Compare that to UKIP’s 1 MP representing 3.88 million voters and it’s clear there’s a problem.  If UKIP had got the same level of representation for its voters as the SNP, it would have another 148 MPs…

To put it another way, under FPTP Westminster gives 149 UKIP voters the same representation as it does 1 SNP voter.

Needless to say Proportional Representation would have given a very different result. With 12.6% of the vote, UKIP would have had 80 MPs (+79). Meanwhile, the SNP’s 4.7% of the vote would have given it 30 MPs (-26).

A concern for everyone

Whatever one’s political views, it is hard to support a system which reward parties when its voters are highly concentrated in certain areas of the United Kingdom, and punishes it if they are more thinly spread across constituencies. Surely the  ‘one person, one vote’ principle demands that all voters should have an equal voice, irrespective of where they live.

UKIP, the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and other parties may want to set aside their political differences to make the case for a fairer electoral system together. The 2015 General Election has been described as being  “the most disproportionate election in history”. There has never been a better time to make the case for fundamental reform.