I voted this morning, having carefully weighed up a whole series of pros and cons that cannot be adequately expressed under a First Past the Post system.
My problem in this general election has been twofold:
1. My preferences for local candidate, national manifesto and Prime Minister were all from different parties
2. I’m in a two-way marginal seat with massive pressure to use my vote tactically
In the end, I voted for the local candidate that I most believed in, not the tactical choice. Every vote is counted, and I decided I would rather have mine counted for the person I would trust to represent my views in Parliament.
For me to tactically vote in a marginal constituency, it would have to either be to block a particularly nasty candidate, or to back someone who was close to what I wanted even if they wouldn’t naturally be my first choice. Neither of those cases applied.
In addition, I don’t believe in the concept of wasted votes. Parties will see their percentages rise and know to target that seat again next time; candidates will win back their deposits; politicians across the country will get the message that the era of two-party politics is truly over.
But because we are no longer in a two-party system, there is no need to continue using First Past the Post as our voting method for general elections. It no longer delivers a decisive result or a strong government, the two most prominent arguments in its favour. If we had the Single Transferable Vote, there would never need to be a choice between voting tactically and voting for the party or candidate you most believe in.
Whatever the results of this election, you can bet that for most of the parties there will be a huge discrepancy between number of seats won and national vote share. The order of who has done best will vary depending on whether parties are ranked by number of seats won or percentage of votes won. In a country that is so proud of its democratic nature, this is a nonsense. Parties also need to get used to the idea of working together, collaborating on policy rather than desperately scrabbling around for a Commons majority to secure power for themselves.
I think we’re in for a period of disillusionment between now and 2020, but the end result might be worth it. There just might be a new type of politics at the end of the tunnel.