Up to 1.8 million Scottish votes "wasted" in general election, says Electoral Reform Society

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 21 August 2017 in News

Electoral Reform Society describes 2017 general election as “more like a lottery than a real choice”, with 22 million votes “wasted” across the UK

The Electoral Reform Society has described the 2017 general election as “more like a lottery than a real choice” after releasing a study suggesting that 1.8m Scottish votes had no impact on the result.

The report, ‘The 2017 General Election: Volatile Voting – Random Results’, argued that First Past the Post had failed to produce stable government, with 22 million votes “wasted” across the UK.

Warning that there had been a “sea of wasted votes and a surge in tactical voting”, the study found 66.4 per cent of votes did not go towards electing an MP under first-past-the-post.


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The ERS found the electoral system is exaggerating divisions in the UK, with Labour winning 29 per cent of votes in the South East of England but getting just 10 per cent of seats, while the Tories took 34 per cent of the North East vote but got just nine per cent of seats.

The study found the SNP is over-represented in Scotland, as is Labour in Wales.

Meanwhile, if the election had taken place under the Single Transferable Vote system, Labour would have emerged as largest party, according to a YouGov survey of party preferences.

Overall the Conservatives won 56 per cent of English seats on 46 per cent of the vote.

Electoral Reform Society Scotland director Willie Sullivan, said: "Electors should be able to vote for parties they agree with on the broad sweep of policy, instead of feeling the need to vote tactically based on one significant issue such as independence or Brexit because they fear 'winner takes all' dominance.

"A proportional system would allow for this, create a much broader discussion of politics ensure all votes are of equal value with citizens feeling empowered to take part."

Sullivan added: "Shock changes can take place very quickly and are exaggerated by the electoral system.

"Victories are precarious, and the possibility of another election in the medium term could mean all-change again soon.

"Large swings, often local in effect, show that no party can expect very long in the sun.

"Banff and Buchan where a majority of over 14,000 for the SNP turned into a majority for the Conservative party of 3,600 highlights this."

He said: "Scotland returned four of the UK's top 10 smallest majorities. Those MPs' bottoms rest on very wobbly seats."

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