Friday, 6 May 2011

The Scottish elections, an example of where AV benefits

As I write this I believe the SNP have a majority in government (65 seats, still counting) in the Scottish Parliament. The interesting part of it is that in terms of vote share the Liberal Democrats are nose diving as people leave the Lib Dems to vote SNP. Labour on the other hand aren't doing terribly, they're losing some share as are the Tories, a natural effect of a general swing to the SNP. Yet Labour are also losing a lot of seats, more than their reduction in share might suggest. Why?

Despite Scotland having a semi-proportional system, these seats are being won on our FPTP system. What these results show, very clearly, is that those who have voted Lib Dem in the past are only ever thinking to vote SNP in their second preference. Through truly being swayed to vote SNP as their true first choice, or realising that their chance of a united majority against Labour can only come about with the SNP getting their votes, Labour are losing out because they appear to be the party that have gained in the past due to votes being split between SNP and Lib Dems.

This is about as pure an example of why AV is so beneficial, how many Scottish seats at the last election may have fell to the SNP under the FPTP stage of the elections using AV instead because of the system's inherent property for stopping parties that don't have direct competition getting a foothold in areas that they're not wanted.

As a final example, look at East Lothian, seat to the Labour Scottish leader.

Iain Cumming Gray Labour - 39%
David Berry SNP - 38.5%
Derek Scott Brownlee Conservative - 16.6%
Ettie Spencer Liberal Democrat - 5.9%

Is that a seat that it looks like Labour deserve? Sure, Tory Scots are unlikely to pass their preferences on to the independence loving SNP, but nor are they likely to pass votes to their arch-rivals Labour. This election has shown that Lib Dems are much more likely to desert to the SNP.

It may be unlikely, but I still hope deep down the public has not been duped by the lies of the No campaign, and that we in the UK elections...unable to temper a bad system with some form of proportionality as the Scottish can...move to a fairer system that does not penalise voters that have a choice between similar candidates.