[EM] London newspaper campaigning for voting reform

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Thu May 12 09:28:10 PDT 2005

Stephen Turner Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2005 4:07 PM
> According to recent issues of "The Independent"
> (serious London daily paper), there is now momentum
> building for voting reform for the House of Commons 
> (first-past-the-post, single-member constituency at the moment).
> IRV, Mixed-member proportional (the New Zealand
> system), and the actual systems used in neighbouring
> countries are all mentioned: no mention of anything
> likely to be favoured by most members of this list
> (Condorcet, approval).

Practical reformers in the UK want to obtain a properly representative House of Commons.  That rules out ALL voting
systems based on single-member districts.  Those who are recommending IRV here (UK = "Alternative Vote") are perhaps
really opposed to reform but feel they can no longer hold back the tide, or have an extreme belief in the alleged merits
of the single-member district as creating a special bond between the elected member and the electors, or just don't
understand that the IRV results might well be every bit as bad as those from FPTP in terms of overall distortion and

The main focus of voting reform in the UK (proportionally representative councils, assemblies and parliaments) is quite
different from that in the USA, primarily because, until very recently, we had no direct elections for single-winner
public offices (like city mayor).  Even now we have very, very few of them.  There are none in Scotland, in comparison
to 1,222 councillors (to be elected to 32 Councils by STV-PR), 129 MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament, elected by
a regional version of MMP PR), 59 MPs (Members of the UK Parliament, elected by FPTP) and 7 MEPs (Members of the
European Parliament, elected by closed-list party-list PR).  So from a Scottish viewpoint, the House of Commons at
Westminster is the outstanding anomaly.  NB We don't like MMP for the Scottish Parliament elections and want to replace
it with STV-PR.  Northern Ireland already uses STV-PR for ALL of its public elections except the election of its 18 MPs
to the House of Commons.

I would not expect there to be any public discussion of Condorcet or Approval in the UK.  These systems are not, so far
as I know, in use anywhere in the world for public elections.  In contrast, IRV has been used for public elections for
more than 100 years and is used by millions of UK voters every year, in trade union and similar elections.

James Gilmour
Edinburgh, Scotland

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list