Thursday, 20 June 2019

Counting the numbers

If the Conservative Party used the electoral system which they think is perfectly fit for purpose for the rest of us mere mortals, the two contenders going forward into the ballot of members would have been decided on the first round of voting.  Boris Johnson, with 114 for and only 199 against would have taken the first slot, and Jeremy Hunt with 43 votes in favour and a mere 270 against would have been declared ‘elected’ onto the ballot paper for the membership.  The reports would have said that Johnson had a ‘majority’ of 71 and Hunt a ‘majority’ of 6.  That is the standard way of electing MPs and councillors in the UK and pretending that those elected enjoy the support of the ‘majority’.
The Tories, however, have decided that that is not good enough for them.  Not only should their second choice be counted, but their third, fourth, and fifth choices should also be allowed to influence the outcome.  However, rather than count all those choices using STV in a single vote, they prefer to make the whole process more complex and drawn out than it needs to be by holding an exhaustive series of First Past The Post ballots.  It’s a bit like accepting the principle of proportional representation but pretending not to. 
It also has the side effect (and whether that’s desirable or not depends on whether you want a straightforward democracy or one which allows Machiavellian manoeuvring) under which a devious and dishonest electorate (which is what makes the system a perfect fit for Tory MPs) can game the process.  It has been suggested, for instance, that the sudden drop of 10 votes in Rory Stewart’s total between the second and third votes was due to a “few weak souls” (don’t you just love the terms of endearment that Tory MP’s use to describe each other?) having succumbed to the ‘charms’ (aka bullying) of one of Johnson’s lieutenants and voted for Stewart in round 2 in order to eliminate Raab.  And similar tactics are rumoured to be at play in an attempt by the leading donkey to arrange for the donkey he’d most like to be up against in the final run-off to be on the ballot alongside him.  Apparently, this is all part of what makes the UK’s democracy the envy of the world; if it doesn’t always seem that way, it’s just that the rest of the world don’t understand how envious they really are, deep down.  That is clearly their problem, not ours.  Those silly foreigners, eh?

1 comment:

Gav said...

According to Flanders & Swann:

".... It's not that they're wicked or naturally bad
It's knowing they're foreign that makes them so mad!"