Monday, May 02, 2011

What's your magic number? #yes2av #no2av

No, I don't mean the number of people you've been intimate with, although if you want to tell me that, I will nod politely and pretend that I don't feel really awkward.

What I mean is the number of times your vote has actually counted in a Westminster election.

I have now voted in 6 Westminster elections, over 24 years. It should have been 7, but, well, I kind of missed out on 1997 cos I was too busy knocking up for Tony Rogers in Chesterfield that I never got the chance to make the 20 mile journey home to vote. Not that my Liberal Democrat vote would have meant anything in Sherwood.

In fact, only once in that kicking the backside of quarter of a century has my vote counted.

A quarter of a century is a long time to go without having any real say in the democratic process at all.

I remember a posting by the lovely Mr Dr Chocaholic last year where he pointed out that half the seats in England, and almost that in most of the rest of the UK, hadn't changed hands in his lifetime. He pointed out 29% which hadn't changed hands since 1945. He points out the dangers of such a system - that MPs in those seats are basically not accountable to their public because it's very difficult to remove them under First Past the Post.
So if you are under 40, nearly half the seats in the country have never changed hands since you were born. That doesn’t look like a system which is holding MPs to account for their behaviour.
In Eddie Izzard's latest video for the Yes to Fairer Votes Campaign, he points out that the last election result was determined by just over 1.6% of the electorate - the rest of us might as well not have bothered. It can't be right that MPs can be returned for safe seat knowing that their place in Parliament is theirs until they decide that they don't want it any more. That's not how a democracy should work.



AV means that every MP will have to have 50% of the vote. That has to be a good thing, because it means they will have to appeal to more people in their constituency, not just their own core supporters. They will have to break out of their ivory towers and talk to people.

And each person's vote will have more of a chance of counting, giving them more of a say in the democratic process.

So, let me know your magic number - how many times has your vote counted elected somebody?

4 comments:

oneexwidow said...

I've voted in every election since I was 17 - starting in 1992 - so 5 times. First in Dunfermline West and then in Edinburgh North and Leith.

The only time my vote has been for the winning candidate, however, was last year. Although I had just moved to Bristol (South, MP: Dawn Primarolo), my postal vote was for Jeremy Browne in Taunton Deane. :-)

Jennie said...

I live in a bellwether three way marginal; I've never voted for the winning candidate, though.

ColinG said...

Voted in four elections: twice in a safe Tory seat; twice in safe Labour seats. My vote has never mattered!

SK said...

Can't really say unless you define what it means for a vote to 'have counted'. What does it mean?

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