Voting For Change

Hello everyone, today I’m talking politics. If you live in the UK right now, its likely you’re aware  that our political system is rather fucked.
The government and opposition parties appear to  put the needs of the few (i.e theirselves) above anything else. Thus leaving large percentages of the population feeling unrepresented. This has led to many discussions with my friends in recent weeks about what could be done to improve the state of UK politics. People seem to be in agreement that two things need to change.

A drawing of a  glass voting box with the words  voting for change written on it

The first is to introduce compulsory voting

This is probably the most obvious change that can be made.

There are 22 countries in the world who currently use compulsory voting.
11 countries, including Australia enforce voting by fineing people who don’t vote.
The other 11 countries including Greece don’t enforce it.

Those in favour of compulsory voting say it’s a civic duty. They cite the struggles of men and women throughout history for the right to vote. Such as the Chartists of the Victorian era who fought for votes for working men and the Suffragettes who extended that fight to include womens votes.

Compulsory voting ensures governments are legitimate and have a genuine mandate to govern. This leads to more stable governments.

Those who disagree with mandatory voting argue voting is a civic right, similar to the freedom of speach. And thus people shouldn’t be forced to vote.

They also believe that should people be forced to vote, the votes of people who are uninformed, undecided or who simply don’t care could skew results

These days the right to vote is not properly appreciated in the Uk.
In the Brexit referendum 32% of people didn’t vote. So although  Leave gained 52% of the votes, only a third of British adults voted to leave. Had the other 32% of the adult population voted the results may have been different. Or if the result stayed the same, it would have been a true reflection of the will of the country.

I’m therefore very much in favour of compulsory voting. The argument for not forcing people to vote because they are uninformed doesn’t hold water, as  plenty of uninformed people do currently vote.

Likewise if someone can’t decide or really doesn’t give a toss who wins, they can spoil their paper or return an empty ballot. Either way it would show the voter didn’t want any of the candidates.

The second thing is intorduce proportional Representation

During the recent European elections, the good folk of Britain got to vote for their EU representatives using proportional represetation. Each region of the UK the was allocated a number of MEP places. When the votes have been counted the places for each region are divided up to the different parties according to number of votes each recieved.

In the UK general elections this system obviously wouldn’t work as there’s only one place for each constituency. We currently use the first past the post (FPTP) system. Meaning the person with the most votes wins, although they rarely get close to 50% of the votes.

However FPTP isn’t the only available option. In 2011 there was a referendum for an alternative voting (AV) system.

AV would require voters to rank candidates they liked order of preference. So for example if my constituency had a Conservative, Brexit, Labour, Lib Deb and  Green candidate I would have put 1 in the box for Lib Dem, 2 in the box for Green and 3 in the box for Labour.

In the first round of vote counting just the first choice votes would be counted (in my case lib dems). If this resulted in one candidate getting over 50% of the vote they would win. If not the candidate with the least votes would be excluded. Then  the second choice votes would be counted and that total added to the first. If a candidate recieved 50 % of the votes after the second round they will win. If not thr process would continue with 3rd and 4th place votes untill a clear winner was picked.

The result of the 2011 referendum was a definite rejection of  AV. Only 33 % of voters in favour. However it has subsequently been stated that infighting in the government at the time effected the result. A majority of MPs preferred the FPTP, so  AV was much maligned.
As such it wasn’t clearly exlpained to the voting public prior to the vote.

I believe its crazy that we can be governed by a party who only recieved 30-40% of the votes on a general election. For that reason I voted for AV. And I still believe any system that gives a result more closely representing the actual voting results has to be a good thing.

Is there anything else that should be changed?

I believe there’s a third way British politics could be improved. This doesn’t involve any other change to the voting system. Instead I would abolish the whip system in parliment.

Often in political news we hear party whips or the whip system mentioned. For example the Tory MP Michael Heseltine just had the tory whip removed because he voted lib dems in the EU elections. This means he’s been kicked out of the tory party.  However the whip system is never really explained in the news.

Each political party has members called whips who’s role is to ensure their MPs vote in line with party policy. In any vote they will issue a memo to their mps called a whip. A one line whip means members are asked to attend the vote and are asked to follow the party line. A 2 line whip means members are asked to attend the vote and must follow the parth line if they vote. A 3 line whip meams members must attend the vote and must follow party lines.

So far this all seems a bit obvious, if you’re  a member of the gang you have to follow the gang’s rules right? Well no, I disagree. When you vote in a general election, the theory is you’re voting for a person to represent you in your constituency. This has been most clearly demonstrated with the recent desertion of MPs like Umma Chukra and Anna Sourbry from their resepctive parties. They still represent their constituents even though they are no longer of the party the constituents voted for.

However in practice the idea of mps representing their constituents is pants, because if they vote against party whip they can be punished.

I would like to see the  voting in line with party policies part of the whip system removed. This could  allow MPs to get to know and vote more in line with the views of their constituents.

Politics is a complicated subject so I thank you if you’ve stayed with me to the end of this post.

Do you think UK political system needs an overhaul? Would you introduce different ideas than those I have mentioned?

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Thank you, Mrs A Xx


  1. Michelle K

    June 16, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Politics definitely needs reforming though British politics sounds very different from the U.S. Both, though need a serious overhaul. The systems as they are now aren’t working for the people and we have a saying here in the states as I’m sure you’ve heard, “We the People”. That means something that today’s politicians seems to have forgotten about. It’s all about gas-lighting and smoke and mirrors these days. It makes it extremely hard to know who to trust and who to vote for. Like right now, it’s early but the Dems have so many candidates running that it’s overwhelming. I like several of them but most of them are all saying the same thing. At this point I really want to be wowed! I want to see real change happen because we are in so much need for that.

    The good news is my oldest gets to vote in the next election so I have been watching different videos with him on different candidates, trying to educate him before he votes.

    I think it’s important to be informed before you go to the voting booth so the compulsory voting I am very on the fence about. I see your point of view but I also agree with the naysayers that you can’t force people to care. And I think caring about who is in office is more important now than it ever was.

    I have family members who refuse to vote.Their reasoning is they can’t trust what any of the politicians tell you so why bother? It’s kind of an ass backwards point of view but I can also understand it. I wouldn’t want to force them to vote when I know very well they would be the ones to send in a blank ballot and that won’t achieve anything. I wish they felt passionate enough about our current situation with the current president to get out there and vote but they are deeply stubborn and I don’t think forcing them would do anyone any good. So I see your point Tracey but I disagree with that particular part. #abitofeverything

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      June 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      I get what you mean, and I am quite happy for people to leave a blank ballot paper, meaning they have actively chose none of the candidates. However I know so many people who say I support this or that party, but dont bother voting. Their votes could make a huge difference

      1. Michelle K

        June 21, 2019 at 2:14 pm

        Yes I hear from people like that too and it can get frustrating when they support someone but then don’t vote. They really don’t understand that their vote matters just as much as everyone else’s.

  2. Jeremy@ThirstyDaddy

    June 9, 2019 at 1:43 am

    I agree that the number of people that vote in places where it isn’t cumpulsery is pitiful, but then I look around and wonder how many of these idiots should really have a say. Its a problem

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      June 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      Thats very true as well

  3. Coombe Mill

    June 6, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Interesting ideas, I see where you are coming from, but while it sorts some issues your ideas will create others, like those that don’t want to vote not considering their vote and true proportional representation tends to result in a very fragmented coalition government where making decisions is hard. Politics is always complicated. #abitofeverything

  4. Picking Up Toys

    June 6, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve never understood why it isn’t compulsory, always seem to be the people most affected that don’t because they think it will make no difference. #ABitOfEverything

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      June 12, 2019 at 2:27 pm

      That’s very true

  5. Sustainable Responsible Living

    June 5, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    Interesting post… difficult topic with so many different (commercial or other) interests at play. Bit of a tightrope act what the best changes could be. I think more personal ownership is somewhat of a cultural and educational topic that should ideally be instilled in people. Not a big fan of forcing somebody to do something but would prefer a softer, more educational approach myself… #abitofeverything

  6. Sam

    June 5, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I totally agree we have a the choice to vote so use it X #abitofeverything

  7. Berni Benton

    June 5, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Agreed compulsory voting, proportional representation and abolishing the whip would be excellent ways forward

  8. Jo - Cup of Toast

    June 5, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    I studied history at A Level and I think that helped me to see that whilst FPTP is not my preferred voting system, proportional representation is not perfect either. One thing that I feel is encouraging though, is that politics is being talked about on a much broader level and by people of all ages. I hope that the new generation of voters coming through will be more engaged with the process and have a better understanding of how to use their vote (whichever party they choose to support). #ABitOfEverything

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      June 5, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      I agree that no voting system is going to be foolproof, but there has to be a better option than FPTP

  9. randommusings29

    June 5, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t think there’s any system that will ever be entirely fair. AV voting could still end up with a party in power that the majority of people don’t want if they score highly in the second or third choice columns. I do believe voting should be mandatory though. One of my pet hates is any sentence that starts with “I didn’t vote, but …” and then moans about the result.
    P.S Thanks for hosting #abitofeverything

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      June 5, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      Oh yes, if you dont vote you dont get to have any say in the outcome.
      I think the AV vote is better than FPTP although no system is going to be perfect. My example for this would be the 2011 general election where lib dems vote increased, but no party had a majority. Now we know that lib dems joined with the tories and it destroyed them as a party, because so many voters like myself felt they should have aligned with Labour. Had AV been on place, peoples second choices would have been taken into account

  10. endardoo

    June 5, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Interesting you and me both put up posts this week related to politics and voting. Not a coincidence with the recent elections, but so many see the need for reform, as demonstrated by the farce that is Brexit, but it ain’t going to be easy … vested interests, people’s natural reluctance to change, and all that … but we have to aspire, or hope, or all is lost. We have the proportional representation system here in Ireland for elections, much as you described for the European elections, and it is better than first past the post, but has its own drawbacks too. But all for another day! Excellent post #ABitOfEverything

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      June 5, 2019 at 1:35 pm

      I would be interested to hear your views on proportional representation and both sides of it x

      1. endardoo

        June 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

        Well, briefly, as a voting method it is as democratic as it gets, but here, our mainstream majority parties get around the will of the people after the election by forming coalitions with other smaller parties afterwards, and so you literally don’t know what government you have voted for because they are vague until they do all the negotiations afterwards, ie divvying out minsterial jobs etc. That’s the main problem … it’s like thye set about flouting democracy … and you will not get them to promise anything concrete in the run up to the elections. Myself, I do not vote for the mainstream party candidates, but am in a minority, and am left voting for people I don’t actually have full confidence in. It’s going to take time …

        1. hooks_and_dragons

          June 5, 2019 at 3:56 pm

          Ah, very much like how our government jumped into bed with the northern irish party the DUP to bolster their numbers, dispite the DUP having views that even tories generally wouldn’t agree with

          1. endardoo

            June 6, 2019 at 1:30 pm

            Now you got it! So no system perfect. We need smarter voters. And that takes time

  11. RaisieBay

    June 5, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    I most definitely agree it needs reforming and I like the sound of your changes. People should be forced to vote, it’s not that difficult, and it could be made easier too, like voting by paper or online for those that have difficulty of going to a polling station. Like you said, if they didn’t want to make the decision then they should be given the option to leave it blank, or cross the entire paper. The AV system sounds a little confusing, I’m not sure if that would ever be implemented, it could involve a lot more work. I never really knew much about the whip system, but I agree, it is ridiculous. We certainly need some sort of change and quickly!

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