The British political system is in bad shape. Mistrust of politicians is dangerously high, as Peter Kellner’s recent research shows, and voter apathy has increased dramatically over the past 20 years.
A major part of the problem is our dated electoral system. Our first past the post (FPTP) system means a candidate does not need to secure a majority of votes in their constituency, only the largest number of votes. Presently, in two thirds of seats, the MP has less than 50% of votes. No wonder people feel they are not well represented; the majority of voters did not vote for their sitting MP. Furthermore, nearly 60% of constituencies are seats which, election after election, always stay with the same party. No wonder people feel nothing changes; in many areas, it just doesn’t.
The public are clearly eager for solutions to improve the state of British politics—yesterday The Independent on Sunday published a poll claiming that nearly two thirds of voters are open to changing the current voting system. Crucially, over half of Conservative voters are open to persuasion. Conservative MPs should take note. After all, if they truly want a Big Society in which the public is engaged with politics, and if they truly believe in the kind of market-based reforms they are pushing through in education and health, then the Tories ought to get behind AV.