Letter: Tories too can benefit from voting reform

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Sir: Vernon Bogdanor ("Let's root out the rot in our sickly constitution", 8 January) rightly emphasises the Government's low percentage support among the voters, but fails to point out that the real democratic deficit is far worse than, say, a 42:58 per cent split.

In the 14 general elections since the Second World War no governing party has commanded a simple majority of those who voted - although four have achieved 48-49 per cent. At the same time, however, an average of 23 per cent of the registered electorate has failed to vote in numbers ranging from a "low" 5.4 million (16 per cent) in 1950 to an appalling 11 million (28 per cent) in 1970.

This takes no account of those (currently approaching 2 million) who for various reasons are not even registered to vote.

I calculate that in 1992 the Conservatives were elected on the positive choice of only about 33 per cent of the potential adult electorate.

Constitutional reform, including proportional representation, will not necessarily ensure that people will turn out to vote. What is urgently needed is improvements to the electoral machinery to make it more efficient, up-to-date and "voter friendly".