Tuesday, 24 February 2015

chilli and the art of proportion

Yet more potentially dodgy dealings revealed from various politicians over the last couple of days. We were talking about some of it in the Cluny a few days ago, over bowls of chilli and maybe a pint or two of Ouseburn Porter.

The current largely two party system evolved back in the 1885s and was supposed to ensure that stuff got done. A multi-way split was considered to be something that could slow down legislation and progress.

Perhaps in a different way than that of the time wasters like Philip Davies, MP for Shipley with landlord interests who stopped the revenge eviction bill, Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch who delayed the Turing pardon and the floccinaucinihilipilificate Jacob Reeesss-Moggg, who proudly 'talks out' Bills not for, but against, Britain. It'd be interesting to know how many of the electorate actually know what some of those folk get up to?

The First Past The Post FPTP system ensures that, with the right political boundaries, only the Conservatives and the old Labour Party can statistically ever be the main options at an election.

I've taken a the most recent data I could find from election forecast.co.uk and produced a quick comparison table. It's too early to get a full prediction, but not too soon to show the different leverage of voting percentages across the main parties.

Both Conservatives and Labour get around 8.4 to 8.7 seats per percentage point of the vote. The SNPs get an amazing 11.8 seats per percentage point. That's probably a Conservative strategy to help reduce Labour probabilities, too. Everyone else gets between 3.6 seats and as low as less than 1 seat per percentage point.

We can look at how this plays out.

I've taken a mid-range result, with generally balanced Conservative and Labour outcomes, neither of which is enough to hold a majority. The other three bundles of parties SNP, Lib-Dem and 'Others' are enough to control the votes.

We'd have a kind of quasi-Belgian situation. Their hung parliament lasted leaderless for 535 days, despite students stripping to their underwear and handing out free chips, giant lions and roosters snogging in the street and a national Belgian shaving strike.

For the UK it could mean that the SNP (Scottish) vote controls the balance of power and could tilt the results even on matters only affecting England and Wales, a curious outcome after the Scottish Referendum.

Just for entertainment, I thought I'd recut the graph to illustrate Proportional Representation.

I've simply allocated the seats on a more or less balanced format, which is representative of the way the electorate has chosen to vote.

Many comfortably appointed MPs wouldn't stand for this, of course. Curiously, using the raw stats from my tables, the two main parties lose a huge number of seats and the other five parties combined would hold the majority. They'd never all vote together, of course and it would make getting anything done quite a challenge. Maybe that's the point of the Victorian model and Duverger's law.

It probably means that we'll still get one of two bad choices, perhaps without the surrealism of Belgium. Something to put in the pipe, I suppose.

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