Structural Bias in the Electoral System - What??

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Tastytoggle, Jan 18, 2010.

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  1. WTF is "structural bias in the electoral system"? I read somewhere recently that if Labour can win 29% and the Tories only 39%, this means they'll be two seats short of a majority due to this structural bias - which was explained as labour votes being more helpfully distributed amongst constituencies. Being a thick cnut, I can't get my head around that. If you achieve a higher percentage of votes surely you win, don't you? I'm particularly curious because I also read somewhere else that the English electorate didn't return Labour to power at the last General Election.

    Frankly, I'm not sure who will get my vote, but it won't be Labour, that's for certain. I'd be gutted to think they might win by some fcukin unfair advantage. Anyone able to explain it in layman's terms?
  2. Yup. Each constituency should theoretically represent roughly the same number of people. However, all sane people who can afford it are fleeing the inner cities for the suburbs and countryside (think barn conversions etc). This means that the inner city constituencies, and the sh*tty ones, are emptying. The few remaining people there vote labour. The country constituencies are filling up, and everyone there votes Conservative. The upshot? Inner city constituency has 10 people in it, but has an MP and he’s labour. The country one has 1000 people and one MP and he’s a conservative. Therefore, loads of people produce a few Conservative MPs, not many produce a load of Labour MPs.

    How odd that this hasn’t been addressed...
  3. Isn't it also a case of Scotland having fewer people/MP and tend to be Labour orientated.

    Edit to add: No, I was wrong. It changed when the Scotish parliament was formed.
  4. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Basically no matter what happens Mandleson wil find a way for Labour to win it
  5. If Cameron wins the next election I believe he is proposing to reduce the number of MP's which will require the redrawing of boundaries and may rectify the situation . If Broon wins the next election I reckon one of the first Parliamentary bills to be passed will be public funding for political parties because the Labour Party will be bankrupt . We are in for interesting times this year .
  6. If the Tories wanted to be really vindictive, they could destroy Labour in an afternoon by cutting the number of constituencies and MPs and redrawing the boundaries the right way.

    Merseyside, for example, has 16 different constituencies running from Wirral South to Southport. In virtually all of them you could stick a red ribbon on a gibbon and it would be returned with a massive majority (14 Labour, 1 Lib Dem, 1 Ind. at the minute). Cut that to, say, 5 constituencies and how much there's up to 9 Labour MPs gone. You could probably do the same all over Yorkshire and South Wales.
  7. Dunny-on-the-Wold in reverse, but the Dachshund is named Chardonay.
  8. I'm pretty sure it's in Dave's Grand Plan, along with capping donations at £50,000 a donor and things like that. I think Blunkett was in the paper recently raging about it.

    Almost worth voting Conservative on that basis alone...
  9. I'm afraid that to do this effectively we would need a form of either one-citizen-one-vote (although this would mean that the personal contact with MPs would be lost) or proportional representation.

    Personally, I'd vote (no pun intended) for OCOV - if for no other reason that we'd be able to identify those who are wasting their opportunity to decide. It's a criminal offence in Australia to not vote and I fail to see why it shouldn't be here in the UK.

  10. British Democracy eh? The system whereby Margaret Thatcher left office after winning the support of a majority of Tory MPs, to be replaced by John Major who could only get the support of a minority.
  11. how come Mandelson has so much sway and power, he is not even elected!

    how can this be so?
  12. This will be the John Major who won the biggest mandate in British electoral history in the 1992 election with 14,048,099 votes - a good deal more than the 13,517,911 that gave Blair his landslide in 1997. There's that structural bias thing again.
  13. As others have explained better than I can, it's basically down to variation in the number of voters in each constituency. It can vary by up to 20% and this results in an overall Labour advantage of 10%. The Tories need to get 10% more votes than Labour just to get a draw.

    A few facts you wont be hearing from Lord Mandelson of Acapulco, Secretary of State for Business, Minister of Sound, Light of the Firmament etc etc:-

    In the last general election Labour got 3% more votes than the Tories but ended up with 80% more seats.

    A 10% lead for the Tories would give them a majority of between 0 and 20 seats while a 10% lead for Labour would give them a 139 seat majority.

    In their entire history, Labour have never obtained a majority of the votes in England.

    The government only reviews constituency boundaries every 10 years.

    In many other democracies, it would be a criminal offence to run an election with a 20% variation in constituency population. In the USA, the limit is 1%.

    The head of the Electoral Commission is the former head of the Equal Opportunities Commission. The head of the Boundary Commission is the former head of Hackney Council. Not what you'd call politically neutral so don't expect anything to be done about this outrage until after the election in May.
  14. Ancient Mariner said, quite accurately:
    The US Constitution requires a census every ten years to determine the number of congressmen in each state but the state government sets the actual boundaries. My state, Massachusetts has an entirely Denocrat congressional delegation (At least until Tuesday Jan 19th. A close senate race is going on and Scott Brown (R) has a chance to beat Martha Coakley (D)) The state legislature plays with the boundaries to maximise Dem seats in Congress resulting in some very oddly shaped districts. Of course Massachusetts is the birthplace of the Gerrymander named for former Mass. Governor and former US VP Elbridge Gerry.
  15. Gerrymander - the name synonymous with Dame Shirley Porter