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Members' Opinion Polls

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Opinion Poll
If there was a general election tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
Conservative  27%
Green  2%
Labour  7%
Liberal Democrat  46%
a national party in Wales/Scotland/Ireland  2%
Monster Raving Looney  7%
Respect  0%
UKIP  0%
Veritas  0%
Other  0%
Spoil ballot  0%
Deliberate abstention  7%
Don't Know  0%
Total: 41 members' votes
by dw229 - Sun 24th Apr 2005, 10:42pm
If only there were more options...
by know your subjunctive - Sun 24th Apr 2005, 11:27pm
If there _were_...
by Peter Snow - Wed 27th Apr 2005, 7:49am
Conservative: 18%
Labour: 9%
Liberal Democrat: 52%
Deliberate abstention: 6%
Others: 16%
If these results were repeated across the country - and remember, this is just a bit of fun - then the Lib Dems would have 620 seats and Others 26, and there would be no Lib Dem or Labour MPs.
by Swingometer - Wed 27th Apr 2005, 8:54am
Peter Snow said: and there would be no Lib Dem or Labour MPs.
That'll be no Tory or Labour MPs.
by mjb - Wed 27th Apr 2005, 9:01am
Results like this and this are what makes the election a whole load of rubbish anyway.
by Richard - Wed 27th Apr 2005, 9:38am
or this

A similar thing happens if you put the LibDems in place of the Tories in the above link.
by I'm going home to vote - Wed 27th Apr 2005, 11:11am
Well, if I choose to vote back at home, I could go for the 'Vote For Yourself Dream Party' or the 'Peace and Progress' party. Far more interesting than the options listed above.
by dw229 - Wed 27th Apr 2005, 11:03pm
I'd like to suggest that neither of the above posts are actually evidence that the electoral system is rigged in favour of Labour (or against the Conservatives/Lib Dems), despite Matt's blatant Tory bias.

I imagine a similar calculation back during the early nineties would have made it look virtually impossible for Labour to win.

Imagine a two-party system and a plot of percentage swing versus number of seats with that swing. The mean lies somewhere in favour of the opposition but will not be symmetric - it will be skewed with a longer tail in favour of the opposition, as some seats have highly pissed-off voters who want a change, while fewer seats have enthusiastic swings towards the ruling party. These allow the opposition to win previously safe ruling party seats, and as the reverse is not true, the opposition wins more seats than the mean suggests.

The BBC model doesn't take this into account, basing it as it does on the last (landslide Labour) election results.

If you really want a fair system, go for proportional representation - a system the Tories rejected because they realised they'd never ever get in again!!
by Alex - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 11:05am
Proportional representation may have the appearane of fairness, but I really don't think that it is a sensible electoral system. As far as I can see, there are two arguments that stand against it.

The first is fairly banal and is always made, but does nevertheless need to be kept in mind. If you look at the opinion polls (even our own), there is no single party which could command a majority in the Commons. There have been, in fact, a tiny number of elections where any party has ever garnered an absolute majority of votes cast (I can't actually think of one). We would therefore be left with a never-ending series of coalitions which are not only unstable, but also unlikely. Charles Kennedy himself has ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with either of the other major parties after this election in the event of a hung parliament and so it seems only reasonable to ask how that would affect Britain under proportional representation. Who would be invited to form a government? Which policies would have to be shelved if a coalition were to be formed? Is that fair?

The second argument against proportional representation seems to me to be far more significant. The notion of representative democracy obviously entails that the opinions of the people are represented in the legislature and the composition of the executive. However, this can be interpreted in two ways. On the one hand, it can mean that the actual number of votes cast should be represented to preserve the actual division of will in the country. On the other hand, it can mean that there should be a clear link between electors and their representatives. In the former case - under a system like proportional representation - the poll itself may deliver a legislature whose composition does reflect the political will of the country. However, after the poll, the business of legislation and the formation of the government are left at the disposal of high politics: that is to say, party programmes can be compromised in the eternal cycle of deals and negotiations. After the election, the government that is actually formed and the legislation that is actually passed may not in any way reflect the views of the country. In the latter case, where there is a strong link between electors and representatives through a constituency system, the capacity remains for a member of parliament actually to reflect the attitude and concerns of his constituents. There is a continuing need, moreover, for each MP to do so. To me, this form of representation, where local and regional interests can be brought up in the Commons, regardless of MPs' party allegiances, is the only way of ensuring the spirit of representative democracy in British politics. Of course, the whip system does compromise this to an extent (if it were left up to me, I'd abolish it anyway), but the distortion is far less than under proportional representation.

As a side issue, while there is all this bitching going on against first-past-the-post, it seems to me significant that while the number of seats parties hold may not correspond exactly to the number of votes cast for them on a national basis, there have been a TINY number of governments that have been formed off the back of a minority vote. Those that have occurred have collapsed pretty quickly when leaders reaslised their minority status compromised their mandate to rule. Hence first-past-the-post is not so bad after all!

The fact that Peter Snow's poll engine demonstrates that a HUGE swing is needed for Labour to lose power is not an argument against first-part-the-post, but is merely a demonstration that Labour MPs have either immense majorities or tiny majorities. Hence, while a small swing or about 5% will oust their MPs from more marginal constituencies, it will take a much larger swing to oust those with solid majorities. If there was a smaller range of majorities held by Labour MPs, a small swing would have a far greater impact nationally. Out of interest, would those who have criticised our present system believe it would be fairer to institute a sytsem that would cap majorities to make it more sensitive to smaller swings on a national level? Something like STV or similar...
by Alex - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 11:08am
If you really want a fair system, go for proportional representation - a system the Tories rejected because they realised they'd never ever get in again!!
P.S. Two points:

(a) NO-ONE would ever get in on their own again!

(b) I was at the conference debate where the Tories discussed PR as a policy option and it was rejected because it was manifest that it would damage the continuing link between the electors and their representatives. The Tories may be complete bastards in some respects, but on electoral reform, they are surprisingly principled people.
by Dubya - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 2:25pm
At least in this country you don't let the ruling party arbitrarily re-draw constituency boundaries in amusing shapes like donuts, to put all the Conservatives in a single constituency... eg, like this
by Dubya - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 2:30pm
Also where is the "Can't vote, I'm an extraterrestrial"?
by RTT - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 2:31pm
Dubya said: constituency boundaries in amusing shapes like donuts
Are constituencies in the US toroidally connected then?
by gf - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 3:13pm
Alex said: ...various things...
What do people think of the compromise idea of maintaining the constituency-based, first-past-the-post system for the Commons whilst having an upper chamber elected via PR?
by Alex - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 4:05pm
gf said: What do people think of ... having an upper chamber elected via PR?
That, I think would be the worst possible compromise. The upper house in Britain exists as a checking chamber, largely to ensure that the frenzied whims of the elected members of the lower house do not damage the country and to prevent ill-thought out legislation from passing into law. I would far rather see the perpetuation of a wholly UNelected upper house, composed of people who owe their position to no political party. I would be happy to have the Lords contain eminent legal figures (as it does), religious leaders from all faiths and experts from all disciplines (economists, doctors, university administrators etc.), all appointed for life. I would remove the capacity of Prime Ministers to recommend people for peerages and guarantee that the upper house was a highly-qualified, independent body of experts.

Personally, I'd also reintroduce the hereditary peers to the Lords as a matter of course. Rather unfashionably, I am convinced that they were the only people capable of truly independent opinions and were, moreover, the only people whose involvement was predicated on a sense of duty prompting to take up their seats.
by Ingers - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 10:57pm
I would agree that it would be very nice to have a truly independent upper chamber. But what is the point of the House of Lords if the Government can use the Parliament Act to bludgeon their way through, like they recently did with hunting?
by Alex - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 11:11pm
Absolutely right! Repeal the Parliament Acts...
by Revolutionary? - Thu 28th Apr 2005, 11:12pm
Although having said that, I hardly think the cry of 'Repeal the Parliament Acts' will bring people clamoring to the barricades...
by RTT - Fri 29th Apr 2005, 8:09am
Revolutionary? said: Although having said that, I hardly think the cry of 'Repeal the Parliament Acts' will bring people clamoring to the barricades...
If we offer them condoms full of purple flour to throw then maybe this would increase the chances?

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