Charlotte Gore is absolutely wrong

Nominal Liberal Democrat Charlotte Gore, who oddly seems to spend more time hating the Labour Party than actually supporting the Liberal Democrats, has a very odd post-election post.

She thinks that if the LDs were to prop up a Labour administration in exchange for the introduction of proportional representation (which is required – if you don’t think the difference between votes and seats here is grossly, rankly unfair, you’re either blindly partisan or insane), then the resulting knock in support for propping up the reviled Labour government would kill the LDs forever.

To paraphrase Blackadder, there’s only one problem with this analysis: it’s bollocks. Let’s assume that Labour are so reviled that anyone who supports them will be tainted with hate. Which is rubbish – whilst some right-wing people, some of whom pretend to be liberals, hate Labour, most people don’t) – but let’s assume it anyway.

In that context, backing Labour in exchange for a definitive deal on PR might cost the LDs half their votes next time round. But the LDs only won eight percent of the seats this time round, on 22i%-ish of the vote. Winning 11% of the votes and seats next time would be an improvement – and any prospective Gordo-taint wouldn’t last forever.

Is there anything wrong with my analysis above? Seriously?

15 thoughts on “Charlotte Gore is absolutely wrong

  1. You've made a mistake in your logic.

    You are assuming there is a definite deal with labour on the table: "support everything we do for 4 years and at the end of that the next election will be PR with a votes=seats guarantee".

    The lib-dems have been hoodwinked before with cosy-cosy arrangements with Labour and got nothing at all from these.

  2. Well the interesting thing was that people were willing to accept Lib Dems losing 20-30 seats UNDER a new system as the price of PR. That's what struck me as interesting, and to be honest that's what I think would be the result. No-one needs a Lib Dem Junior Partner for a Labour Government.

    As it happens Clegg's already said that Cameron's got first dibs on trying to form a Government. He hasn't gone back on what he said about that, so that's the possibility of something absolutely outrageous – ignoring what he said and going straight to Labour – is out of the question.

  3. PR hands power to politicians and reduces people from active formers of a constituency to a passive focus group occasionally flattered with a bogus " Consultation". It’s a sort of feminine authoritarianism and popular on the continent because they fear democracy ( rightfully so). We have no reasons to .
    Why in any case is the system unfair on the Lib Dems , it’s the same for everyone isn`t it , and guess what , they loved it until shortly after Lloyd George ….fancy.
    The problem is not so much the system as the geographical spread of the Lib Dems vote and as such is part of a number of problems as the UK , to your delight I am sure , fractures.
    Why I wonder is it assumed that England should consult Scotland on which style of electoral system it prefers? I have a strong suspicion that England will overwhelmingly prefer FPTP . As English laws and constituency rationalisation are coming soon that will be the end of the collectivist left as a serious force in my life .I do hope New Labour and its fawning familiars start whining after the last ten years I think we deserve to hear it
    I am rather confused as to what values Nick Clegg represents that could not equally be aired in the context of the Conservative or Labour Parrty , in fact Clegg is in many ways a sort of Heathy Ken Clarke , has a little of Heaths petulance as well which is always good value . The rise of the Lib Dems is actually the fall of serious politics for the common man . You no do8bt assume that because this is change it must be good , I am less convinced .
    On the subject of propping up Brown its pretty simple they said they would not and promised that the Party with the most votes would get their support . My own MP Norman Baker would have lied to me in person in form of many witnesses on this very point

  4. Aside from Lib Dems, SNP, and Greens (obv) votes/seat were all quite similar – not anti-Tory bias really (especially if you adjusted for lower turnout in Labour seats)

    “votes per seat”

    Conservative 34,989
    Labour 33,350
    Liberal Democrat 119,788
    Democratic Unionist Party 21,027
    Scottish National Party 81,898
    Sinn Fein 34,388
    Plaid Cymru 55,131
    Social Democratic & Labour Party 36,990
    Green 285,616
    Alliance Party 42,762

  5. Mathew you have to adjust for the relative success of the the Parties. With Conservative and Labour on the same vote the difference is considerable . Add to that the increasingly preposterous WLQ and you see the results of ten years of gerrymandering .

  6. That is adjusting for the strength of the parties – it's votes per seat (total votes cast for that party / total seats gained)

  7. Yes, it's a mad Tory lie that the voting system is gerrymandered to favour Labour, as Matt's chart highlights.

    The thing that surprises me the most there is the fact that FPTP actually disfavours Plaid and (to a massive extent) the SNP – I'd have expected them to benefit from it given their regional support bases, and I'm almost sure we were told that regional party overrepreentation as a feature of FPTP at uni.

    That makes them more likely than I'd thought to favour an electoral reform coalition…

  8. Mat for fuck`s sake …splutter grrrr…. The comparison is the votes /seats ratio on the same % vote . OBVIOUSLY fpp favours the winner of whichever Party please tell me you understand this pleeeeeeze?
    On that basis , the right one , New Labour have institutionalized delays in the boundary commission for advantage .Thus the people, who have left socialist paradises in droves have been incrementally punished by having less voting power .The chief area of their gerrymandering, however , has been Scotland and it is there that they were saved from oblivion
    I see that tangerine hued cunt Hain is advocating New Labour impose PR on England when it is quite clear England does not want it on the back of double over representation of Scotland actually using Nat MP`s

    What do you make of these English figures given that we have devolved Parliaments

    Conservative: 297 (+92)
    Labour: 191 (-87)
    LibDem: 43 (-4)Green: 1 (+1)

    I appreciate that to Bandit Engkand is not so much a country as an inconvenience but then it has only been a fact since ooo the venerable Bede. Another thousand years and perhaps he will be getting used to the idea.

    The whole PR con rests on the incorrect presumption that a Political Party is a concrete entity .It is not of course . In fact eh dispensation we have slews politics to the lefty already

    Criminal Justice

    How about a referendum on any of thses just to see how badly off the left are . What the left do is steal money form one group who hate them and bribe another group who hate them even more

  9. But you can't say it's unfair on a votes/seat basis if the votes/seats is essentially the same. What happens under theoretical circumstances is not really here or there – if turnout in Labour seats was to soar and in Tory seats fall the opposite would be true, after all. And without compulsory voting there is nothing you can do about it.

  10. John B, you are quite right.

    it must be better to have 11% of the votes and 11% of the seats than 22% of the vote and 8% of the seats. That said, Nick Clegg is a politician and he has to put his own interests (i.e. a job in the Cabinet and a new limousine etc) ahead of minor things like tinkering with the electoral system.

    PR is one of those things like getting out of the EU, those people who look into these matters do care strongly about it, but the general public couldn't care less.

    PS, I did my own summary of votes-per-MP to put this into perspective here. What conclusions we draw from that I don't know.

    PPS, there is no need to be so aggressive towards fellow bloggers.

  11. Fucking WORD.

    The voting stats probably UNDERestimate the benefits of a switch to PR as there are a significant number of tactical votes, including mine and Punkwiff's, which went to one of the big parties but would otherwise go to smaller ones on principle.

  12. Mark – yes, in general I agree about not being rude about fellow bloggers. Notice that at no point did I insult Ms Gore – I just suggested that her argument was rubbish, because it was, and that her Internet output seems more focused on dissing Labour than promoting the LDs, because it does. Facts, not slanders. Them's what I likes.

    Punkscience:: Indeed. My uncle ion Brighton drove all the way to the polling station to vote Green (FACT). Imagine the additional number of people who'd bother driving to the polling stations to vote Green if we had PR.

    (also, forestalling the usual objections to PR, imagine the benefits to the cause of anti-fascism if Nick Griffin were actually an MP who had to talk to intelligent people who hated him in real debates, rather than just a cunt who got away with pretending to represent the white-working-class because potential voters weren't aware that he was actually just a middle-class bigot who couldn't give a shit about the poor but hates darkies. Richard Barmbrook's position on the GLA has been a good demonstration of how this works in practice….)

  13. "imagine the benefits to the cause of anti-fascism if Nick Griffin were actually an MP who had to talk to intelligent people "

    To be honest the mong faced spacker has done so badly this time round I don't think he could do any worse under a new system.

    On the general point of PR, the problem I have with it is that I don't see a way to have it and allow you to vote effectively for a particular representative rather than 'the next party hack on the list'. This time I voted for a candidate that I supported, not so much for the party he happens to belong to. How do we keep that and make the system less silly?

  14. @Falco –

    a) agreed, but some people use the possibility of BNP success as an argument against PR

    b) If Alternative Vote were implemented, you'd still have 650 constituency MPs, all selected as candidates by their local parties, and all elected by the voters of that constituency as individuals. The impact on the constitution would be negligible. The only difference under AV is that if your first-choice candidate gets eliminated, then your scecond-choice vote comes into play.

    So if you (say) live in Hampstead & Kilburn, quite like Glenda Jackson, would ideally prefer Ed Fordham, but really don't want to accidentally help elect a Tory, then AV allows you to say "Ed first, Glenda second". The "Glenda second" part of your vote is only relevant if Ed is eliminated. and it comes to a run-off between Glenda and the Tory candidate. So a LD voter in a Lab/Con marginal (or Con voter in Lab/LD marginal) can vote for their ideal candidate *and* have a say in the real two-horse race. I genuinely don't understand how anyone could object to replacing the current system with AV, other than because they're a partisan Labour or Tory tit who wants to be able to keep up the "a non-Lab/Tory vote is a wasted vote" argument.

    Single transferable vote is similar but with larger multi-member constituencies, so seats can be distributed between the winners. While it also preserves the "voting for Bob Smith" link, It represents a real constitutional change and breaks the MP-constituent link to some extent, so it's a bigger deal. On balance I support it, but I can see pros and cons.

    And I agree that party-list PR would be worse than what we have now, and that anyone who supports it is silly.

  15. The problem with AV is that you an almost "logical fallacy that I can't quite remember the name of" problem. Start with 3 candidates A, B, and C with A and C hating each other and merely loathing B. Quite often you will end up with a very sub optimal B winner, despite not one person actually supporting them. Overall I suspect that it will produce just as many problems as FPTP.

    STV sounds possible but then they all have problems. Take a look at the New Scientist article on democratic systems, by their calculation the big problem is that none of the possible systems are particularly good. The choice tends to be "Which massive flaw in an electoral system are you able to live with?" and that will often be a political choice because the unfair advantages tend to be either pro or anti centrist.

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