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11:59am on Sunday, 9th May, 2010:
As we have a hung parliament, and the only way out of it seems to be for either the Conservatives or Labour to promise the Liberal Democrats that all future parliaments will be hung, too, it might be worth looking at what we can do to ensure that whatever form of proportional representation we get isn't just as broken as the system that it replaces.
I've mentioned before that I have my own ideas on something that will fit the bill. It keeps a constituency link, it lets voters vote unpopular MPs out, it's simple and it's more proportional (enough to be fairer, but no so much that you can't get a "strong government" single party in charge every so often). It has no ghastly disadvantages, except that you don't know until the end of the results process exactly how many MPs will be returned. Oh, it also means that in a by-election, a sitting MP could lose their seat.
Because you couldn't be bothered to click on the link above, here's how it works:
For example, suppose that the Colchester, Clacton and Harwich & North Essex constituences formed a group. Here's what the results were for the three main parties from Thursday's poll:
Will Quince Conservative 15,169
Jordan Newell Labour 5,680
Bob Russell Liberal Democrat 22,151
Douglas Carswell Conservative 22,867
Ivan Henderson Labour 10,799
Michael Green Liberal Democrat 5,577
Harwich & North Essex
Bernard Jenkin Conservative 23,001
Darren Barrenger Labour 9,774
James Raven Liberal Democrat 11,554
Applying my system, Russell, Carswell and Jenkin would be elected by right. We then add up the votes of the losers across all three constituencies.:
Conservative 5,169 (from Colchester)
Labour 26,253 (from Colchester, Clacton, Harwich & North Essex)
Liberal Democrat 17,131 (from Clacton, Harwich & North Essex)
The score to beat is Jenkin's 23,001. Labour do indeed manage this, so should get a top-up seat. This would go to Henderson, who polled highest of their losing candidates.
Here's how the representation stacks up proportionally:
First-past-the-post: Conservatives 66%, Labour 0%, Liberal Democrats 33%.
My system: Conservatives 50%, Labour 25%, Liberal Democrats 25%.
Votes cast: Conservatives 48%, Labour 21%, Liberal Democrats 31%.
I think mine is the better match, and it doesn't come with all the baggage that AV+ and STV come with.
Now although this a fairly simple idea, I can't find any description online of anything like it. I'm sure it must have been thought of before, but I don't know what it's called nor what turned out to be wrong with it. Even if it hasn't been thought of, though, I wouldn't know who best to write to to get some dialogue going about it.
Oh well. As the saying goes, it doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.
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