Letter: Let this be the last absurd `landslide'

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The Independent Online
Letter: Let this be the last absurd `landslide'

Sir: Your leading article of 3 May points out in words the arithmetical absurdity of the election result and the need to look at our first-past- the-post system. The actual figures are set out in the table.

Our system has yet again produced a House of Commons that bears little relationship to what the voters voted for. The Labour landslide is in reality a relatively small percentage shift in voting patterns producing a wholly disproportionate percentage change in the number of seats obtained by the parties. Labour did not achieve an overall majority of votes but it has been given absolute control of Parliament. It is over-represented by a staggering 126 seats. The Conservatives are under-represented by 39 seats and the Liberal Democrats by 66 seats.

As usual, there are other distortions. The Liberal Democrats doubled their number of seats on a 1 per cent reduction in their share of the vote; the Conservatives obtained nearly 20 per cent of the vote in Wales and Scotland, but they have no seats in either, leading to the jibe from their opponents that they are now a parochial English party. These distortions cannot be tolerated in a modern democracy.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats are committed to a referendum on PR. It is to be hoped that the Conservatives, after what happened to them on 1 May, will also see the need for radical reform. The Labour government must not change its position on

a referendum on PR now that it is the beneficiary of the distortion in our electoral system. It must use the absolute power given to it by that distortion to reform the voting system before the next general election.

Lab Con LD

Votes % 44.5 31 17

Seats % 63.6 24.7 6.9

Seats won 419 165 46

Seats if in

proportion

to votes 293 204 112

DAVID L COMES

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

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