Our democracy badly needs a rethink

0
Have your say

Rodney Pinder (Letters, 7 April) suggests that our democracy is “the best around”. If only that were true!

In fact, our democracy is deeply flawed and in urgent need of improvement.

Mr Pinder says millions across the UK don’t get the government they voted for. But it’s worse than that – we don’t even get the parliament we voted for.

We never vote directly for a government – in UK general elections we vote for a local representative.

So the least we should expect is that the parliament at Westminster would be properly representative of those who voted. But it’s not. The first-past-the-post voting system discards the votes of half of those who do vote.

This is not the fault of the political parties or of the candidates – it is inherent in the voting system. And this defect has been obvious at every UK parliamentary election for many decades.

Sometimes more than half of the votes are discarded (53 per cent in 2010), sometimes fewer, but always around a half. And representation is no better at the local constituency level either. More than two-thirds of the MPs elected to Westminster in 2010 were elected with only minority support.

In Scotland, 37 of our 59 MPs are minority members – what kind of “local” mandate can those MPs really claim?

And in terms of government, just what kind of democracy do we have when the defective voting system manufactures a single-party government, with an overall majority of 66 seats, elected with only 35 per cent of the votes?

We know our democracy can be better than that, so we should get our heads out of the sand and get on with the long overdue repairs.

James Gilmour

East Parkside

Edinburgh

Rodney Pinder says it is a
feature of our flawed democracy that millions do not get the government they voted for and he is right. However, as Mr Pinder points out, it is the majority voting for a particular party who get the party they voted for.

At least under proportional representation some of the anomalies are mitigated, as can be seen by the fact that in the last Scottish Government election, the Conservatives came a distant third in terms of turn-out, but nevertheless it got 15 seats.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh