The political class is frit

Writing in the New Statesman’s blog, The Staggers, on Tuesday George Eaton made the following observation about what would happen if the current polling percentages were repeated at a General Election:

The Conservatives can have no complaints about the outcome delivered by an electoral system they have consistently defended and Labour governed for a full term after winning on just 35 per cent of the vote in 2005 (it bagged 55 per cent of the seats). But party figures have told me that they fear Labour could face a “crisis of legitimacy” if it wins an outsized majority on a thin slice of the vote. A share of 34 per cent would be the lowest winning percentage of the vote since 1832.

The language is interesting.  Set aside for a moment the idea of such a large majority for Labour if it only secures 34% of the votes cast at the General Election on a turnout of around 65%.  The real crisis of legitimacy that would finally emerge as a talking point following such an election ‘victory’ is that there would be a Labour government, imposing its will on the entire country without check, balance or accountability to voters, that was voted for by only 22% of registered voters.

There is not just fear within the political class about the impression that would be made by a large Labour majority on a very small percentage of the vote.  There is fear people will wake up and declare it to be unacceptable that with approaching 40% of voters rejecting all the parties, any of them can claim to represent the people.  The illusion of legitimacy for the political class will be crumbling.

We can expect to see another push for Proportional Representation as part of an electoral reform package.  Perhaps even the first moves to make voting compulsory.  Not just because the distribution of votes would make party representation in the House in terms of seats ‘fair’, but because it would allow for the appearance of legitimacy as the political class will seek to focus attention away from turnout and purely on to share of the vote – while increasing numbers of Britons refuse to support any of them.

8 Responses to “The political class is frit”


  1. 1 Derek 16/05/2013 at 8:19 am

    The head of the Boundry Comission is the Speaker of the House of Commons. Under Speaker Boothroyd, the constituancy boundries were changed to give the Labour Party a 10% advantage. The media will not comment on this, and the BBC behave as though it is normal for the constituancy boundries to be gerimandered in favour of the Labour Party.

  2. 2 adams 16/05/2013 at 11:10 am

    FPTP has militated against us for many years .It has to go . The signing away of our country to the EU against the wishes of the people (who were awake ) has highlighted our disenfranchisement . The Lab/Con would not allow true PR to be put on the AV referendum charade ballot paper . Somethin’s got to give . Make it happen . Vote UKIP .

  3. 3 Furor Teutonicus 17/05/2013 at 7:33 am

    XX We can expect to see another push for Proportional Representation as part of an electoral reform package. Not just because the distribution of votes would make party representation in the House in terms of seats ‘fair’XXXX

    NO! It is NOT “fair” at all!

    Example Germany. A party (Greens) that get only 5 or 6% of a vote (On similar turn out averages), get to have seats in Parliament, and even control MINISTRYS (Joschka Fischer, two or three “Parlaiments” ago, and even today there FDP, with the lowest “Poll results” in their history), because one of the other partys needs to “share” their seats so as to “make a majortity”!!

    HOW can it be “fair” when a party controls something as fundemental to a countries policys as the FORIEGN Ministry(!), when they get only 5-6% of the vote!?

  4. 4 james higham 17/05/2013 at 9:17 am

    AV would ensure UKIP got seats, as would proportional. It’s a pity Clegg pushed it as that was counterproductive but on two party preferred, if UKIP were one of those, there’d be a good chance they would get seats. On FPTP, they have almost zero chance of MPs.

  5. 5 John 17/05/2013 at 4:55 pm

    Vote UKIP ?
    Farage has already said that an alliance with the conservatives is on…even if only in local councils. Oh wait, isn’t one of their councillors facing being “sacked” for alleged racist comments on facebook ?
    What is his latest escapade ?
    Calling the SNP “fascist”.
    Guaranteed to move voters to the SNP.
    And the commonest voting system in the world is list PR…
    Making voting compulsory would work for labour, since the conservative voters turn-out in greater numbers.

  6. 6 Eddy 17/05/2013 at 7:16 pm

    So more people will vote for the SNP if they think it is a fascist party? If you say so.

  7. 7 John 19/05/2013 at 6:20 pm

    It’s called “being insulting to Scots”
    He [Far-rage] called them fascist: They’re not. So they’re more likely to vote for a Scottish party insulted by a conservative-leaning English minor politician.
    Labour have just over 40 MP’s in Scotland.
    So minus 40 from an expected [but not guaranteed by any way] labour majority of barely 50…….
    Fortunately Far-rage has messed his pants, and not for the first time.

  8. 8 Furor Teutonicus 21/05/2013 at 12:01 pm

    They are looney left enough to be declared “Fascists”.


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