The problem with First-Past-The-Post electing

UK general election 2005
Results: England
Map of results for England, 2005
Comments by jez:

Labour are massively over-represented in the UK parliament. They have an overall majority of over 60 seats - that's over 60 seats more than all the other parties combined! In England, they should not even have a SIMPLE majority.
LabourLabour bar(35.4%)
ConservativeConservative bar(35.7%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar(22.9%)
RespectRespect bar(0.3%)
IKHHIKHH bar(0.1%)

LabourLabour bar286 (54.1%)
ConservativeConservative bar194 (36.7%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar47 (8.9%)
RespectRespect bar1 (0.2%)
IKHHIKHH bar1 (0.2%)
The popular vote in England actually saw the Conservatives getting more support than Labour, yet Labour won nearly 100 more seats. This was mainly at the Liberal Democrats' expense, with the Tories actually getting about the same number of seats under First-Past-The-Post as they would have done under Proportional Representation.
LabourLabour barLabour bar(+18.7%)
ConservativeConservative barConservative bar(+1.0%)
Lib DemLib Dem barLib Dem bar(-14.0%)
RespectRespect bar(0.0%)
IKHHIKHH bar(0.0%)
As can be seen from this chart, this very flawed system of electing led to a massive discrepancy in England, in terms of number of seats won by parties when compared to the number of people who voted for them.

I wonder why Blair & co. changed their minds on supporting Proportional Representation?

Results: Scotland
Map of results for Scotland, 2005
In Scotland, there was a rather different kind of massive discrepancy.
LabourLabour bar(39.5%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar(22.6%)
SNPSNP bar(17.7%)
ConservativeConservative bar(15.8%)

LabourLabour bar41 (69.5%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar11 (18.6%)
SNPSNP bar6 (10.2%)
ConservativeConservative bar1 (1.7%)
Here, the vote was relatively close. Although Labour actually won more votes than any other party, they had nowhere near an overall majority. Believe it or not, the Conservative party had a respectable amount of the popular vote - 15.8%. The UK's electoral system, however, somehow managed to award Labour an overall majority here.

Once again, Labour has been the party to benefit from the massive discrepancies the UK's First-Past-The-Post system caused. Despite only getting 39.5% of the popular vote, Labour actually won 69.5% of the seats in Scotland - a massive 30% more representation in parliament than they deserved, at every other party's expense.
LabourLabour barLabour bar(+30.0%)
Lib DemLib Dem barLib Dem bar(-4.0%)
SNPSNP barSNP bar(-7.5%)
ConservativeConservative barConservative bar(-14.1%)
It was particularly at the Conservatives' expense. Their 15.8% share of the popular vote was turned into a pathetic 1.7% share of the representation in parliament, or 1 seat - a massive 14.1% less representation in parliament than they deserved. Still, it could have been worse for them - they could have won no seats at all, like UKIP et al (see below).

I wonder why Blair & co. changed their minds on supporting Proportional Representation?

Results: Wales
Map of results for Wales, 2005
Wanna guess whether the results were democratically representative in Wales?
LabourLabour bar(42.7%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar(18.4%)
ConservativeConservative bar(21.4%)
Plaid CymruPlaid Cymru bar(12.6%)
Mr. Peter LawMr. Peter Law bar(1.5%)

LabourLabour bar29 (72.5%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar4 (10.0%)
ConservativeConservative bar3 (7.5%)
Plaid CymruPlaid Cymru bar3 (7.5%)
Mr. Peter LawMr. Peter Law bar1 (2.5%)
You guessed it. Once again, the UK's electoral system caused Labour to benefit hugely in Wales, at the expense of the other major parties. Despite only receiving 42.7% of the popular vote, they got 72.5% of the representation in parliament - a whopping 29.8% more than they deserved.
LabourLabour barLabour bar(+29.8%)
Lib DemLib Dem barLib Dem bar(-8.4%)
ConservativeConservative barConservative bar(-13.9%)
Plaid CymruPlaid Cymru barPlaid Cymru bar(-5.1%)
Mr. Peter LawMr. Peter Law barMr. Peter Law bar(+1.0%)
Major parties have been talking a lot in the last few years about making parliament more 'representative' of the people of the UK, and claiming that inserting some ethnic and female MPs will achieve this. This is patently nonsense, because there is a far more fundamental problem - the political preferences of the people of the UK are not being fairly represented in parliament.

I wonder why Blair & co. changed their minds on supporting Proportional Representation?

Results: Overall
Map of results for the UK, 2005
Of course, the above discrepancies are bad enough, but the charts only show parties that actually managed to get a seat under our First-Past-The-Post system. Even worse is that many parties got plenty of votes nationwide and received absolutely no representation in parliament at all.

UKIP got 603,298 votes but received no seats in parliament.

George Galloway's Respect Party got only 68,094 votes yet received a seat in parliament.

The Scottish National Party got 412,267 votes and recieved 6 seats in parliament!

The Green Party got 257,758 votes but received no seats in parliament.

The British National Party got 192,746 votes but received no seats in parliament.

Plaid Cymru got 174,838 votes and received 3 seats in parliament!

If this seems rather random and unfair, that's because it is. The system awards representation to parties based on local monopolies of support, not based on overall national support. I believe this to be wrong, and far from the best democratic system that we can achieve. Many people's votes are literally ignored under First-Past-The-Post electing. Under Proportional Representation, everyone's vote would count toward a party's national support, and parties like UKIP would get some representation, even if they didn't happen to have a majority of support in any one particular constituency.
LabourLabour bar(35.3%)
ConservativeConservative bar(32.3%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar(22.1%)
UKIPUKIP bar(2.2%)
SNPSNP bar(1.5%)
GreenGreen bar(1.0%)
BNPBNP bar(0.7%)
Plaid CymruPlaid Cymru bar(0.6%)
RespectRespect bar(0.3%)
IKHHIKHH bar(0.1%)
Mr. Peter LawMr. Peter Law bar(0.1%)

LabourLabour bar356 (55.2%)
ConservativeConservative bar198 (30.7%)
Lib DemLib Dem bar62 (9.6%)
UKIP 0 (0.0%)
SNPSNP bar6 (0.9%)
Green 0 (0.0%)
BNP 0 (0.0%)
Plaid CymruPlaid Cymru bar3 (0.5%)
RespectRespect bar1 (0.2%)
IKHHIKHH bar1 (0.2%)
Mr. Peter LawMr. Peter Law bar1 (0.2%)

LabourLabour barLabour bar(+19.9%)
ConservativeConservative barConservative bar(-1.6%)
Lib DemLib Dem barLib Dem bar(-12.5%)
UKIPUKIP bar(-2.2%)
SNPSNP barSNP bar(-0.6%)
GreenGreen bar(-1.0%)
BNPBNP bar(-0.7%)
Plaid CymruPlaid Cymru bar(-0.1%)
RespectRespect bar(-0.1%)
IKHHIKHH bar(+0.1%)
Mr. Peter LawMr. Peter Law bar(+0.1%)
Over the whole UK, about 20% of the electorate voted for Labour. That means they have an overall majority in parliament despite 80% of the population not voting for them. Of the people who voted, only 35.3% voted for Labour. That means they have an overall majority in parliament despite 64.7% of the voters voting for someone else.

The UK's voting system is broken. Blair claims he has a mandate to govern, and shove his 'reforms' through. He doesn't. He wields a completely unfair and unreasonable level of power over this country, and Labour wonder why people are sick and tired of politics. Anyone who wondered why the British people voted for Labour and Blair, despite their introduction of huge numbers of unpopular policies, wonder no more - the British people didn't. Our voting system allowed them to get vast over-representation and power, because of their traditional vote being based in cities, where there are fewer people per electoral district.

Britain, and all decent democracies, need Proportional Representation NOW! Write/fax your MP and urge them to support its introduction. Unfortunately if they're Labour or Conservative, they probably won't, although God knows why the Conservatives don't; they'd have had about the same number of seats at the last election, but Labour wouldn't wield the massive power that they do. By the way, Mr. Cameron; you claim that you want to restore people's faith in politics, and undo the damage that Labour has done. Great. I now call on you to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk, and commit to supporting Proportional Representation. Put it in the Conservative party's next manifesto. I'm sure you'll win a lot of votes that way.

I'd far rather see a hung parliament than what we have now. Sure, it'd be harder for any one party to be able to push its reforms through, but so what? That's what generally happens when you have a fair representation of the population of a country! Large majorities of people don't generally agree on many things! Parties should have to form coalitions to pass policy, and not every whim of the current Prime Minister should be made into law.
Sources & thanks:
BBC Election 2005
Wikipedia article on the UK election 2005