James Gilmour (Letters, 4 March) is absolutely correct that “tactical voting works only because of the deficiencies in the present first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system”.
However, his suggestion that the solution is “to change the voting system to introduce real proportional representation” would merely replace it with, if anything, a more unsatisfactory one, in which numerous single-issue parties would gain seats so that forming a government would involve cobbling together a coalition that gives them an undue degree of influence.
An alternative might be to include on the ballot paper the option of voting for “None of the Above”.
If this were done, there is no reason why voting should not be made compulsory, so long as a postal vote was always available and there were safeguards in place for those unable to vote because of factors beyond their control such as illness or having to go overseas at short notice in an emergency.
Far more importantly, should it attract more votes than any “other” candidate, a re-run should be required from which they would all be debarred from standing.
Also they should automatically lose their deposits – which would also discourage frivolous “parties” from standing in the first place.
However, I do not hold out much hope for this because the threat that a majority of voters would reject all of them might be all too inhibiting for professional politicians who would, therefore, never pass the legislation for its introduction.
Martin D Stern
Contrary to popular argument, FPTP is the only appropriate method of election to the UK Parliament. That is because all successful candidates are returned as individual, independent members.
Indeed, that applies even to the only proportional element, that of Scottish parliamentary “list” members who are not elected but appointed according to the number of votes supposedly cast on a party basis.
This seemingly more democratic section can in fact self-destruct, since members are bizarrely allowed to change party allegiance once in office, thus upsetting – indeed potentially wiping out – the desired balance.
To add to the confusion, I am now in possession of a circular relevant to the coming Westminster election, promoting a Labour plan to protect “our” – ie Scotland’s – devolved NHS. This is issued by the “Scottish Labour Party” and calls on the electorate to vote “Scottish Labour”.
Presumably, then, the UK ballot papers will identify candidates as standing on behalf of one or other of these groups, in turn suggesting that there might also be rival UK Labour candidates.
An internal headline gives the game away: “Breaking news: SNP’s A&E crisis”. This appeal is no more than a quite comically clumsy reaction to the SNP’s apparently growing appeal to the Scottish electorate. I despair!