Conservatives have rigged the voting system. But it can be reformed.

Posted on: 10th May 2018

Good news! If last week’s up country local election results were replicated here in west Cornwall in a General Election the Conservatives could lose at least 2 of their 3 MPs, according to one independent source.

The two in every three local electors who didn’t vote Conservative last year may welcome this?

However, such a turnaround is not a foregone conclusion. Because the Conservatives have been quietly rigging and gerrymandering the system to make it easier for them to win elections.

Yes, that’s a controversial statement. And here’s why I say it:

  • The Conservatives selected a system to redraw parliamentary constituency boundaries which independent sources believe will gift them at least 20 more seats at the next Election. There were better and fairer ways of creating more equal constituencies. But the Conservatives chose the system which benefits them most.
  • The recently altered voter registration system has meant the non registration (disenfranchisement) of millions of voters; and most are more likely to be non-Conservative voters. There are better and fairer methods. But Conservatives are happy with this one.
  • Thousands of voters were either turned away or stayed away from voting last week because of new stringent voter ID rules, trialled in 5 locations. Of course combating voter fraud is important. I remember well the 1992 election here when hundreds of elderly, disabled and even dead people had their votes stolen through an abuse of the postal/proxy voting system to the benefit of the Party which won. But this new ID system is not the the fairest nor most effective way of combating fraud. But the Conservatives will press on with it.
  • Then there’s votes at 16. I favour lowering the voting age. After all, 16 year olds can get married, pay tax, join the army. But Conservatives oppose this. It wouldn’t be to their advantage.
  • And of course Conservatives oppose a fairer voting system. Conservatives are happy with the current first-past-the-post system where they can take all three west Cornwall MP seats with the support of just one third of electors. The Conservatives benefit from the present unfair voting system, so they’re opposed to improving it.

Added together it doesn’t look good for those of us who want a voting system which is fair, fraud-free and genuinely representative. But don’t give up hope.

The campaign for a fair voting system is growing. Younger people are now more engaged. The campaign for votes at 16 will grow too. And, a comprehensive compulsory electoral registration and compulsory voting system would increase participation, ensure EVERYONE has a say and better combat the many obstacles to getting on the register and exercising your vote.