In May, 2015, the Conservatives secured the right to govern despite 63.1% of the national vote being cast against them. The party won 331 seats, securing a parliamentary majority of 6 out of the total of 650 seats in the House of Commons. This represented a net gain of 24 seats, even though the Conservative share of the vote increased by just 0.8% (their 11,334,576 votes represent a 36.9% share of the total number cast). Ironically, even though the vote for Labour increased by 1.5%; the party suffered a net loss of 26 seats (their 9,347,304 votes represent a 30.4% share of the votes cast).
Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system does not produce a first chamber that is representative of the political views of the electorate:
2015 General Election – just over one third of votes in the general election secured a governing majority for the Conservatives. 63.1% of the electorate voted against the Conservatives.
|Conservative – Ruling Majority||11,300,303||36.9||331|
|Scottish National Party||1,454,436||4.7||56|
|Democratic Unionist Party||184,260||0.6||8|
|Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales)||181,694||0.6||3|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||99,809||0.3||3|
|Ulster Unionist Party||114,935||0.4||2|
|United Kingdom Independence Party||3,881,129||12.6||1|
Taken from “The Spectator”:
2005 General Election – just over one third of votes in the general election secured a governing majority for Labour. 64.8% of the electorate voted against Labour.
|Labour – Ruling Majority||9,552,436||35.2||355|
|Democratic Unionist Party||241,856||0.9||9|
|Scottish National Party||412,267||1.5||6|
|Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales)||174,838||0.6||3|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||125,626||0.5||3|
|Ulster Unionist Party||127,414||0.5||1|
|Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern||18,739||0.1||1|
|United Kingdom Independence Party||605,973||2.2||0|
|British National Party||192,745||0.7||0|
In 2015, political distortion under the first-past-the-post electoral system and current methods of selecting parliamentary candidates, resulted in almost 56% of MPs being elected in ‘‘safe seats’’, most of whom were white, male, middle-class and middle-aged. Only 191 of the 650 MPs elected were women (29% of the total – 43% of Labour MPs, 36% of the SNP’s, 21% of the Conservatives’ and none of the Liberal Democrat MPs), and just 42 (7%) were from ethnic minorities who comprise 14% of Britain’s population. Of 525 newly-elected MPs in 2015, 427 went to university (81%) compared to a fifth of the adult population and 131 (31%) of those went to Oxford or Cambridge University and 25% attended private schools (compared to 7% of the general population). 66% of MPs hailed from the professions or business, while just 4% were manual workers or farmers.
A recent report based upon Hansard Society’s data on political engagement reveals that increasing political disaffection is being fuelled by “spin” and a perceived lack of accountability in the British political system.