Why UK Labour lost? Part 2: UK Labour’s Strange loyalty to First Past the Post. 

I’ve made the point a number of times before, during and immediately after the election on this blog about the First Past the Post electoral system. I’ll make it again, the results in parliament DO NOT reflect the true vote. Labour won 10,269,076 votes in the general election. In terms of vote count this is its second best result since 2001. As a percentage of the vote labour received 32.2% in 2019. By contrast Labour’s percentages were 30.4% in 2015 and 29% in 2010. That the party had its worst results in terms of seats in parliament exposes the electoral system as not delivering results that represent public opinion.

labour vote 2001-2019
Graph showing Labour’s total vote in each election since 2001.

The Attlee Government lost power in 1951, despite increasing its vote and winning more votes than Churchill’s Conservative Party that took office in that election. The government that created the NHS was brought down by First Past the Post. Yet Labour and many of its supporters in the UK continue to oppose electoral reform. Unite the Union, Labour’s largest affiliate union, recently took the position that electoral reform was not a priority instead wishing to focus on getting Labour elected. Because UK Labour continue to support First Past the Post, on its own terms it did suffer a terrible loss.

Electoral reform wouldn’t have won Labour this election. That the Party lost 2.5 million votes in two years makes it a bad election under any voting system. Yet for the Conservatives to have increased their vote by just over 1% between 2017 and 2019, yet this resulted in them gaining 48 seats in parliament shows how strange the FPP system really is.

For Labour, part of their analysis needs to be looking at how the current voting system does not serve their supporters or democracy as a whole well. And hasn’t for a long time. Proportional representation doesn’t guarantee left wing governments, both New Zealand and Germany have had many years of right wing government under this system. But it does mean the make up of parliament reflects the will of the people.

See earlier posts in this series:

Why Labour Lost Part 1: Historical Context

11 thoughts on “Why UK Labour lost? Part 2: UK Labour’s Strange loyalty to First Past the Post. 

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