This has been the election of all elections for tactical voting, and all based on one policy – Brexit! It only supports our concerns that the current political system is broken.
An election is supposed to be our time to have our say and vote for who we would like to see in Parliament – representing our local area.
The way politics is currently portrayed, particularly by the media, would have us believe that the names on the ballot paper will be those of the leaders from the major parties. But in reality this just isn’t the case.
We cannot vote for a Prime Minister unless we happen to live in the constituency where they are standing. Depending on where you live, your vote may mean much less than in other parts of the country.
For instance, those people that live in the constituency of the speaker, won’t get any say whilst that MP remains in the post. This has been the case for those living in Buckingham for the last 10 years, as their MP was John Bercow.
Furthermore, you may live in a “safe seat” area, or perhaps the party you like is not standing. Nigel Farage recently stood down all Brexit party candidates within Tory-held constituencies. Other areas have experienced strategic alliances by groups of parties, such as The Liberal Democrats, who have entered into a “Remain Alliance” with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party. Such alliances may have taken away the choice you originally wanted to vote for.
Small parties get no chance too, there are many out there and they clearly represent a wide spectrum of views that many might hold. It may sound crazy now, but not long ago pubs had to shut during the day, changing this was a policy of the Monster Raving Loony Party during the 1980’s! We may not elect them but we should not restrict their access to spread their ideas with a complicated, outdated and expensive electoral process.
Maybe you are worried about voting for the party you want to see in Parliament, for fear of splitting the vote, and letting another party you do not support win the seat, which could ultimately give them power in the House of Commons.
Maybe you are happy; your MP is the person you voted for and the party has the majority in Parliament. However, there is still the barrier of the House of Lords to contend with, which may block proposals from the people you voted for!
Perhaps you just want an option that says you aren’t happy with any of the choices on offer. You can spoil your ballot, but how many know and are confident of the legalities of this?
So, how do we fix this? How can we stop tactical voting and get back to focusing on appointing a representative that will steer domestic policies both nationally and in local areas?
Is first past the post just the best method of a bad system? Should we try again for a system of proportionate representation like the alternative vote. Do we scrap it and switch to an American-style system where we vote for a President?
First of all, we need a more accurate representation of politics to stop people becoming misinformed. The emphasis should be on where we live locally and the UK as a whole. Politics has become too much about personalities, not policies.
Secondly, move the base of Parliament outside of London, and into an area that is more representative of the UK, and is free from any Londoncentric influences.
Thirdly, reform the House of Lords and make it fit for purpose. This is supposed to be place for final checks and balances but it’s unelected and unrepresentative. It could become a part time role, to be taken up by a more varied range of people, such as business leaders, charity organisers, and Doctors or even a system like jury service.
Seats in the House of Lords could be allocated to parties according to vote percentages taken from the general election. This can be implemented by giving people an additional vote for a party, alongside their existing vote for an individual (and let’s rename it to the House of Representatives and take away the titles).
We may not agree with leave vs remain, left vs right, authoritarian vs libertarian, but we surely can agree that we deserve better?