Why Is Labour Doing So Badly?

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 10:27 EDT

Consider this - the 2005 election gave Labour 355 MPs over Conservative’s 197 and an overall Parliamentary majority of 66. But this hides exactly the advantages in our electoral system which is locking in Labour. First, Labour’s dispersion of voters is such that they can at merely 36% of the votes still win an election – as in 2005. 36% is the winning post for Labour.

Yet in 2022 they are in opposition.

Never before in the history of British elections has a party won with such a low percentage of votes. Never in the history of British elections has a party had just enough of its voters spread efficiently so that with such a low spread of voters it can win enough seats. You would think they would be locked into power. Yet, despite such an advantage, they are in opposition.

To understand this – think of it this way; we have a system whereby if you win a seat by 10,000 votes, you win it just as much as if you won by 1 vote. Tory voters tend to give themselves thumping large majorities and so in a way to say the Conservatives have a poll lead is irrelevant because you are only counting a lot of people in constituencies you’ve already won not people in ones where you need to win from Labour. Labour tend to have lower majorities, but more of them – it’s just the way their vote is spread and so they tend to win more seats per voter.

Well, that’s how it used to be. Now the Conservatives have won in areas where Labour was expected to do so.

So pronounced was Labour’s advantage that in 2005 more people actually voted Conservative than Labour in England– but the Conservatives won 92 fewer seats than Labour within England (285 to 193). Indeed the Conservatives received 60,000 more votes than Labour in England.

Yet in 2022, Labour are in opposition.

Put another way Labour could get 55% of the seats with only 36% of the votes cast. Whereas everyone else combined with 64% of the votes can only manage 45% of the seats – because everyone else’s votes are spread so inefficiently ie they are concentrated in fewer seats.

Yet in 2022, Labour are in opposition.

To reiterate this ‘spread’ argument - the Tories with just 3% fewer votes than Labour (33% to Labour’s 36%) got only 30% of the seats against Labour’s 55% in 2005. Still could be worse – you could be Lib Dem – with 2/3rds as many votes as Labour they only got 1/5 as many seats as Labour.

But it gets worse for democracy. There was an overall turnout of 61% in the 2005 election. But that means more people decided not to vote than voted for Labour.

Indeed Labour’s share of the total possible electorate was 22% - enough for a mandate to govern! 22%! At least in Iran it’s 99% for the winning party.

Yet in 2022 Labour are in opposition.

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