The Peculiar Nature Of British Democarcy

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party or SNP
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party or SNP

Following up on the unexpected results of the UK general election Adrian Kavanagh has examined the barely democratic nature of Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system and the stark anomalies it throws up. The details below make it clear that there is something seriously amiss with the fundamentals of British democracy.

  • The Conservative Party won 50.9% of parliamentary seats with 36.9% of the vote.
  • The Labour Party won 35.7% of parliamentary seats with 30.4% of the vote.
  • The Scottish Nationalist Party won 8.6% of parliamentary seats with 4.7% of the vote.
  • The Democratic Unionist Party won 1.2% of parliamentary seats with 0.6% of the vote.
  • The Liberal Democrats won 1.2% of parliamentary seats with 7.9% of the vote.
  • Sinn Féin won 0.6% of parliamentary seats with 0.6% of the vote.
  • The Social and Democratic Labour Party won 0.5% of parliamentary seats with 0.3% of the vote.
  • Plaid Cymru won 0.5% of parliamentary seats with 0.6% of the vote.
  • The Green Party won 0.15% of parliamentary seats with 3.8% of the vote.
  • The United Kingdom Independence Party won 0.15% of parliamentary seats with 12.6% of the vote.
  • The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland won 0.0% of parliamentary seats with 0.2% of the vote.

Meanwhile, and following on from the post I wrote about the regional parties in the north-east of Ireland being (correctly) excluded from the national television debates in the UK during the election campaign, comes this pointed observation in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper by Ivan Little, veteran correspondent:

“The only nationalists and unionists the British-based broadcasters were interested in last night weren’t on this side of the pond. UTV’s Marc Mallett, who was working for ITN at the King’s Hall, was like a coiled spring all night on his live perch. By the time I left at three in the morning, he’d been called on just once to share the news about our election results.”

With the election of a right-wing and insular Tory government British disinterest in their legacy-colony on the island nation of Ireland is likely to become even more pronounced. Twenty years ago an electoral set-back for Sinn Féin in the Occupied North would have made UK headlines, a validation of Britain’s counter-insurgency strategies. Now British comedians and presenters appear on TV shows seemingly unaware that Gerry Adams is a member of the Irish parliament, not the British one, and that Ian Paisley Senior is dead. History, as they say, is on the side of the Green.

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