Wednesday 30 October 2019

Could Farage be the best way of stopping Brexit?

Despite what the opinion polls are saying, the pundits all tell us that the coming election is highly unpredictable.  Maybe; the polls have been wrong before, and things can change during a campaign.  The recent finding that the Tories are in the lead in Wales just ‘feels’ wrong, but that could be affected by a large dose of wishful thinking on my part.  And while Johnson is likely to prove a better communicator than May (he could hardly be worse), he also has a massive propensity for gaffes, and some of the people around him could also blow it by accident.
To get his majority and then get Brexit (phase 1) ‘done’, the PM needs only to get around a third of the electorate to support his party, and there are certainly enough hard-line Brexiteers to give him such a level of support, even if, as seems at least possible, he jettisons the support of all other types of previous Tory voter in the process.  If he achieves that, then under what passes for democracy in the UK, he would claim a mandate for his deal, despite the fact that a good number of those hardliners would prefer something even harder.
But overall, the biggest potential obstacle to his success is another party, namely Nigel Farage plc.  At current polling levels, they are likely to make only a minor dent in the Tory vote, but their vote share could easily improve over the course of a campaign.  If they were to poll around 12% (currently their status in the polls), spread evenly over the whole of England, they would do no serious damage to the Tories and fail to win a single seat, but at around 25%, spread less evenly, they could start to win seats to a significant extent.  It means that there is a ‘sweet spot’, at around 20%, evenly spread, where they would win no seats but badly damage the Tories.  Put another way, at that sweet spot, people choosing to vote for the party which most accurately represents their view of the desired outcome of Brexit is the best way of ensuring that they don’t get what they want.
Leaving aside (for a moment at least) my own preferences when it comes to Brexit, the idea that the best way to stop Brexit completely is to get those who want the hardest version of it to vote for the only party openly offering them what they want underlines the broken nature of the UK’s sham of a democracy.  There is something very wrong with a system which can potentially either give absolute power to one minority or completely exclude another significant minority from any representation at all.


dafis said...

That's the iniquity of FPTP - originally designed to represent "constituency interests and values" but now reduced to a sham due to Party loyalty and whips ( among all sorts of other things). Arguably direct polling with 650 seats apportioned according to the regional results could give a more accurate "representation". You'd still have the problem of the peripheries like Wales Scotland Cornwall all having few seats as the concentrations of population are elsewhere. But that might stiffen the resolve to leave the Union.

John Dixon said...

Indeed, although I'm not sure that FPTP in the UK was ever actually 'designed' to do anything, or even selected as a conscious choice between options. It is, rather, the result of a largely random process of evolution from the way in which the first parliaments were selected rather than elected.

Simon Neville said...

A lot in that. Outside Wales (and, I "think", Scotland), most constituencies had two Members.

The most promising alternative to FPTP is STV in multi-member constituencies (usually of 3-5 seats each).

dafis said...

"designed" insofar as a member was elected/nominated/selected/or sold the seat for a particular area, the constituency.

Gav said...

Interesting post on Mr Farage at Craig Murray's blog:

"the incredible disappearing farage and other electoral oddities"