No PR for Westminster

I indicated here that I’m not keen on PR being adopted for Westminster elections. This article indicates that a “government study” (which I can’t find on Government websites) has come up with some very lazy, and quite political, reasons not to do it. It strikes me as a better option to seek reasons to change, rather than reasons not to. It also mentions European Elections requiring no change. In Great Britain they certainly do need to change – away from the hideous closed list system. But as we know, Northern Ireland is a model of excellence in electoral matters on most things.

  • joeCanuck


    I read your closed list link but I’m still not clear. Does it mean that Independents cannot stand in the European elections?

  • Michael Shilliday

    No, but they have precisely zero chance of being elected. See

  • Michael Shilliday

    That link isn’t working, if you go to wikipeida and take a look at North West England (European Parliament constituency)

  • QUB Lawd


    Congratulations on your election as vice chairman of the UYUC.

  • BonarLaw


    V-C of UYUC?

    When’s the web site coming back?

  • Michael Shilliday

    QUB Lawd, thanks.

    BonarLaw, soon, but sans me I should think. I don’t want to give a definite time scale as we haven’t had a chance to meet to discuss it, but personally I would hope before the start of March.

    Any further questions on that, don’t hesitate to email me as I’d rather keep this thread about proportional representation in the UK!

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “It strikes me as a better option to seek reasons to change, rather than reasons not to.”

    To be blunt, the best reason to change is that the UK’s present system of parliamentary election is so archaic and unresponsive to voter intention that the UK’s very right to call itself a democracy worthy of the name must be called into question.

    With FPTP, is the UK a democracy at all? Barely, I think, and not a very good one.

    FPTP is a system from the Stone Age. Usually, it requires a majority of about 65/35 to remove a government. (Governments have been removed only twice in three-and-a-half decades, despite no party ever having achieved a majority in all that time – and that’s even though the system is tailor-made to produce two-horse races.)

    The benches of the Commons groan with the dead weight of party aparatchiks and mediocrities while FPTP makes it all but impossible for small parties and independents – people who might come to the job of legislating with fresh ideas and no baggage – to break in.

    Consider the contributions made to Dáil Éireann by the PDs and Greens over the years, and consider how it would be virtually impossible for anything like this to happen in Westminster.

    It should be possible for even small demographics and minority groups to make a meaningful impact in a democracy. In their respective countries, who has achieved more in the last ten years – the PDs, with their handful of deputies, or the Tories, with hundreds of MPs? Or the LibDems ever?

    Furthermore, Westminster would simply be more interesting if there was a broader range of parties in it. Parties could actually prosper by staking claim to definitive ideological territory, rather than always strategising to win the mythical “centre ground”. Then voters could be presented with an actual choice come election time, leading inevitably to more grown-up, issue-driven debates, and a political culture that was less adversarial, less Common Room-like.

    And it would shave about 10% off a government’s comfort zone – 45% would probably be the minimum a majority government party would need to survive an election. Labour won a majority of 80+ seats last time out on 36% of the vote. As I say, this is a result so perverse that the UK’s very standing as a democracy must be regarded as compromised by its electoral system.

    Oh, and Britain could never have invaded Iraq if Blair had had to convince a Commons elected by PR.

    I honestly can’t think of a single good reason why the FPTP system should be retained. Indeed the only reason it hasn’t been changed is that such change would require those who benefit from it to legislate away their own advantage. And turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

    Which of course has nothing to do with good government and still less to do with democracy.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    From the linked article:
    “The current voting system for UK general elections works well” – Michael Wills, Justice Minister.

    I wonder would the minister like to finish the sentence – something along the lines of:
    “…for whichever party happens to have a plurality of the vote.”

    Like Billy P says, FPTP is a legacy. It was perfectly suited to the simple one-or-the-other elections when there were only two parties, but it’s incapable of accurately reflecting the voting preferences of a multi party democracy.

  • Crataegus

    PR STV is not to bad a system provided you have 5 or 6 people being elected in an area. List systems are generally appalling they give political parties too much control.

    I agree with the sentiment of some of the previous posts we need to change the voting system for Westminster. We need to improve both the calibre of people representing us and widen the range of views they represent.

  • Continental Drifter

    VC of UYUC?

    Wouldn’t have thought that took much of an election.

    Which UYUC, out of interest?

  • Continental Drifter

    We need to improve both the calibre of people representing us and widen the range of views they represent.

    In what way does changing the voting system to PR/STV change that?

    Have you watched an Assembly debate recently? Or ever?

    Take out Sammy Wilson and half the Alliance Party, there’s not a competent speaker there.

  • Tony

    Because of the UK voting system only people from the Isle of Wight to Birmingham get to decide the government even though those outside England need less votes to get elected.