Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Cablegram on the Election in Twickenham

Vince Cable lost in Twickenham in 2015. Afterwards he thanked his supporters, and said: “We were hit by a very well organised national campaign based on people’s fear of a Labour Government and the Scottish nationalists.But is that what the record tells us?

2015: 25580
2010: 20343
Swing: 5237

2015: 23563
2010: 32483
Swing: -8920

Nick Grant
2015: 7129
2010: 4583
Swing: 2546

Barry Edwards
2015: 3069
2010: 868
Swing: 2201

Tanya Williams
2015: 2463
2010: 674
Swing: 1789

2015: 200
2010: 770
Swing: -570

In fact a granular analysis of the voting patterns in his own constituency contradicts that.

The Conservatives made considerable gains in Twickenham, but still polled less than Vince Cable had in 2010. They gained a bare majority of 2,017 compared to Vince Cable’s 2010 victory of 12,140.

Looking at the figures, there is no evidence of a fear of a labour government – Labour increased its vote by 2,546.

UKIP and the Greens also increased their votes by 2,201 and 1,789, both gain substantial ground since 2010 when they both fell below 1,000 votes

True, there were 2,017 extra votes this time round, but those fell short of the Conservative victory; they seem to have been even distributed.

In fact, Vince Cable polled more votes that second placed Conservatives in 2010.

What seems to have happened is not a fearful concern about labour, which picked up considerable votes, but a mass backlash against the Liberal Democrats, which resulted in both the Conservatives and all the other parties apart from very fringe minorities picking up votes.

The way that First Past the Post works is of course to the detriment of this kind of split voting system. When Vince Cable won in 2010, he actually took 54% of the vote. Because of the split and distribution to other parties, the Conservatives actually only took 41% of the vote.

First Past the Post is a very good system for the athletics track where there is one winner. As a means of representing people fairly, it is probably one of the worst systems.

It only works well if there are two large parties. Throw more into the mix, and it starts to lose the ability to represent people well.

It was fine for ages where ballot papers have to be laboriously counted by hand, but for the 21st century it is rather like doing accounts in a ledger with a quill pen, or listening to records with a wind up gramophone record.

The technology exists to improve the voting system, but outside of Estonia, no country has really embraced that future. Isn't it about time that we improved our mechanisms for delivering a fairer, more representative, democracy?

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