Last week’s general elections in the UK stirred up outrage over a fraudulent voting system and, well, mostly the whines of sore losers.
When the Conservatives surprised everyone last week, including themselves, after winning a majority of seats in Parliament, securing control by being “first-past-the-post”, many were left fuming.
Of the 650 seats available, the magic number to ensure your party’s the one in charge is 326 (the minimum majority). And the Tories took home 331 seats, renewing David Cameron as Prime Minister.
Yet, understandably, it is the menial ‘36%’ statistic accumulated by the Tories which has left many with such a bitter taste.
Much like the Electoral College in the United States doesn’t always reflect the number of votes a presidential candidate receives, the FPTP system has proven to disproportionately favor larger parties over the likes of the Greens and UK Independence Party (UKIP).
The Conservatives won 51% of seats in the House of Commons with only 36.9% of the overall votes. Labour fell significantly short of their main rivals with only 35.7% of available seats (232), but comparatively were marginally behind in the popular vote at 30.4%. Under a proportional voting system, Labour would have garnered 198 seats to the Conservatives’ 240.
UKIP received the third highest number of real votes, 12.6%, while the Greens were less than half a million off the Scottish National Party’s total at 3.8% and 4.7% respectively. Astonishingly the former two only managed one seat each whereas the SNP’s landslide in the north rewarded them with 56.
Time to march! Or tweet…
Once all this became apparent outrage mounted across Twitter and Facebook, while some even took to rallies in London and Cardiff to complain over the Tory presence in Parliament.
It is easy to sympathize with the discrepancy in the election process, given the above figures. Yet what is hard to swallow is the disgraceful way those on the Left, many identifying as Labour supporters, have declared their protest.
For one thing, many seem to be hostile towards anyone who voted Conservative, in a similar fashion to the 2008 presidential election when those who didn’t vote for Barack Obama were scorned. This anger surpassed aggressive comments online, however, when the Women of World War II memorial in Whitehall was vandalized with “F*** TORY SCUM” slapped on with red paint.
Question: how did the women of World War II offend these protesters on the Left?
A nation tormented at the notion of losing its welfare before anyone has even taken a seat in Parliament has shown a combination of an impassioned electorate and those all too easily manipulated by spin. And sadly it appears to be mostly the latter.
Amidst all the cries for a new voting system, many have forgotten the Alternative Vote referendum of 2011. Brought forward under the last government’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, success would have seen FPTP displaced. It however did not: of the near 20 million who did vote 68% were against changing the election process. Where was the support of the unjust system?
Bitterly Left behind. Bitterly.
The election has left a sour taste in the mouth of those feeling let down. Yes, one could blame the “fear mongering” the Tories envisioned of a Labour-SNP coalition in a predicted hung-parliament (a pairing which was only written out late-on), but how likely is it for one to switch their vote? Those who are politically focused aren’t suddenly going to opt-out of their democratic right to poll their leaders.
And this is what happened: a democratic right went ahead under the laws of the land, decided in a recent referendum by the people, and the outcome wasn’t what was hoped. Protesters are hiding behind the imbalanced representatives given under FPTP (which didn’t seem to bother many when Labour claimed a larger victory in 2005 while holding only 35.2% of the votes), but the real problem is people reacting to political events like a soccer game.
One Twitter user who had expected a Labour majority noted that public opinion may actually differ from the swarm of Labour followers with which he had cocooned himself. For many that fact is yet to be realized.
When democracy becomes less-so
Should the argument have remained coherent, focusing on the imperfection of the current voting system which significantly penalizes minority parties, then an ear we would have to lend. But it’s the vitriolic behavior at the sheer notion people, most people in this instance, disagreed with you which is shameful.
“Protest is a democratic right,” one tweeted.
Yes. But what is it when one is protesting a democratic right because they don’t side with your view?
With thoughts like this, it is here where an electorate may need to wonder what the future holds.