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NEWSLETTER NO 147

Saturday 16 May 2015

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This week:

Highlighting news stories important to the Civic Republican view,
particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.

All these newsletters will be catalogued on the website


ELECTORAL SYSTEM

  • How the Kellowian Electoral System Would Make the 2015 Election
    Fair to All

The 2015 general election has demonstrated more clearly than most how unfair and ridiculous is the first-past-the-post system.

The most glaring injustice is that for every seat they gained the SNP needed 25,927 votes nationally and for their single seat the UKIP needed 3,881,129 votes nationally giving the SNP a 150-fold advantage over UKIP.

This distorts representation in Parliament to an absurd extent and the political life of the country will suffer.

There will be calls for a PR system but these are all just as bad as FPTP. We had a referendum on AV insisted on by the wise head of Nick Clegg in his "deal" with his coalition partners and the British people rejected it. They would do the same with PR

There is a sound alternative - the Kellowian System advocated by the Democratic Republican Party. Let us be clear, it is neither PR nor FPTP.

In this newsletter I will analyse the May 2015 results according to the Kellowian system and show how the obscenity of the over representation of SNP and the denial of proper democratic representation to UKIP is overcome by the system.

It also incidentally gives Cameron a bigger majority. And, yes, that would be entirely fair.

The system is unique in that it tends to give stable government and at the same time increases the likelihood of smaller parties having a an influence in Parliament.

The political establishment can ignore the rest of the DRP platform but this one element must be taken seriously in Britain without delay.

There are readers of the newsletter mailing list that have influence. By all means ignore the rest of DRP policy but do not ignore the Kellowian electoral system. The first country to take it up will lead the world.


This results of the recent election under the Kellowian system are available in the table here. I suggest you print this off in order to follow this discussion. Don't worry, it is really quite simple and easy to understand with just a little effort.

Now before beginning this analysis it is necessary to stress an important proviso. The results I analyse are the historical results of 7th May.

But if the Kellowian system had been used, although the physical mechanism of voting is the same as for the present FPTP, voting patterns would be different. They would be different because voters would understand that the effect of their vote on the outcome in parliament would be different.

The main difference would be that tactical voting would be much reduced as every vote counts under this new system. Every vote has an effect on the power the each party has to wield in parliament.

Nevertheless, taking the result as cast under FPTP does provide a very good illustration of how the Kellowian system would work if used.


I will refer to rows by the reference given in the second column.

Rows A to G simply record what happened and contain no new information. Rows H to K are the application of the Kellowian system and the last rows are a comparison between FPTP and the Kellowian system.

The most important row in the first section is row G for this demonstrations the iniquity of the present system.

When each MP has one vote the commons the "voting power" of each party in the Commons corresponds to the numbers of seats precisely.

(With the Kellowian system each MP does not have one vote but a "weighted" vote, hence the term "weighted representations" or "weighted reps".)

The voting power obtained on 7th May does not equate with the percentage of votes each party gained nationally - obviously. Row G shows the disparity between these two parameters.

Row G shows the "Excess percentage of voting power over votes received nationally" for each party.

The Conservatives are the most advantaged having an excess of 14%. As we would expect UKIP suffers most with a negative figure of -13%.

How the Kellowian system would adjust the unfairness that row G shows? This is is an important test of the system

But before proceeding further let me emphasise once again what the objective is and what it is not.

It is not to create proportional representation for this carries with it a number of evils and these I have set out on the website here and I so will not repeat them all again here. But we may note that the main objection to PR is the familiar one that it produces unstable government and endless coalitions.

So we should not be surprised if the new system gives an even greater advantage to the party with the largest number of votes - in this case the Conservatives. But, at the same time, we would wish to see that, for instance, UKIP would be more fairly treated and we would wish that the SNP should not wield the enormous power that they do in a national parliament when they are not a national party.


So by what miracle can these desirable objectives be achieved. The answer is breathtaking in its simplicity and cunning.

We take the square of the votes cast nationally for each party and then "weight" the vote of each MP according to the result.

So, for example, row H is the square of row C. Taking the example of the Conservatives column the figure of 37.2 is multipled by itself, i.e. 37.2 x 37.2 = 1383.84, i.e. approximately 1383.

There is not much we can do with row H as it stands and so we convert it into percentages as in row J. So, for instance, the Conservatives' figure of 1383 is 53.46% of the total in the extreme right hand column of 2587.

Now compare row J with row F. You can just by inspection see how the percentages of row J have almost magically transformed the weight of the parties to something like we perceive as just.

Those with a mathematically background will understand that the application of the square exaggerates the weighting of all but the figures that are relatively lower

The percentages of the Conservatives are not so much changed although they are changed enough to make an appreciable difference in the voting powers in the Commons as we will shall see


What is more significant is what happens to UKIP and the SNP.

UKIP now have a percentage of 6.27% as opposed to 0.2%. Note the 6.27% is still significantly lower than there percentage of national votes which was 12.6%. To repeat, the Kellowian system does not produce PR and is not intended to.

On the other hand, the SNP instead of 8.6% now have 0.88% - less than 1%. Is this unfair? No, it is not.

The House of Commons is a national parliament, not a regional one. FPTP gives an unreasonable power to a party that has a highly regional or localised support - to put it mildly. I think that very few outside Scotland feel that their great block of 56 MPs in the Commons is fair.

What is more, this block will be able to call for measures for Scotland giving it an advantage over the rest of the UK and this will lead to all sorts of trade offs and bargains with the central government.

In short we will see in Britain the operation of what the Americans call "pork barrel" politics where the central government is forced to make local concessions in exchange for support for national policies. This is already happening with the Conservative who are operating on a small overall majority are making major concessions to the aims of the SNP.

This reduction of SNP influence in the national parliament would be entirely just and welcome.

The same argument applies to the parties of Northern Ireland and Wales whose power in the national parliament is reduced under the Kellowian system.

We might add here that if Britain was organised as a federal republic, or even federal monarchy, as, say, Germany is, there would be other provisions for regional parties to represent themselves under the constitution. This matter I have discussed elsewhere.

The point here is that, even the Kellowian system, seems to disadvantage the regional parties in the national parliament, this is not the fault of this system but a quite separate grave defect in the constitutiton we have


Having arrived at the percentages in row J that we wish to see correspond to the power of each party in the Commons, we now simply apply a ratio or "weighting" to the vote of each MP according to their party membership.

So, for instance, the weighting attached respectively to the Conservatives and Labour are 1.05 and 1.02. So when a Conservative MP votes in a division his or her votes counts not as 1 but as 1.05. Not so different - so one might think. I will return to this in a moment.

One really significant difference is in the UKIP MPs vote as his votes counts not as 1 but as 40.42. This show clearly how the system redresses the unfairness of the current non-weighted system. But to remind ourselves again, voting patterns would be different under a Kellowian system, as people would be less inclined to vote tactically and UKIP would certainly have had more MPs returned reducing the high weighting.

The other significant difference is that each SNP MP instead of having 1 votes would have 0.10 of a vote! No doubt they would not be so pleased - but this is fair. To repeat, this is a national parliament. It is not the place for a regional party to exercise so much power. They do, as it happens, have their own parliament for that.

Also, with the Kellowian system up and running, it is reasonable to assume less people would vote SNP and so in any case their representation in the Commons would be less.

The way the Kellowian Weighted Reps System shifts the power of UKIP and the SNP corresponds to democracy in the real sense of that word.


There is one more crucial difference in the outcome of power in the Commons produced by the Kellowian system. The Tories have a bigger and much more usable overall majority.

As row Q shows their overall majority is under the new system 45 as opposed to the actual majority of 12.

Most people say that a majority of 12 is unstable and will require some bargaining and deals being struck. Unfortunately these deals will in some cases be done with the SNP thanks to its parliamentary power.

This is the worst possible outcome for stability.

I am not known for my support of the Tories, but in terms of the democratic system is it entirely right that with 37.2% of votes that they are the largest party in parliament by far and deserve to be running the country. The Kellowian system would deliver this privelege to them. Their majority in the Commons would not be in doubt for five years.

That is not what I want in the political sense. But in order to change the dominance of the major parties the introduction of new electoral system, the introduction of the Kellowian Weighted Reps System, is necessary. The existing parties big and small, as I have shown here, have nothing to fear from it.

The largest party (the Conservatives) and the party with lots of support nationally (UKIP) gain substantially from it. Labour's position is hardly changed. The Greens are also better off as their one MP now has a weighting to make the 1 vote count as 4.


Only the small regional parties can said to suffer and the position of these I have discussed.

The same would apply to an independent candidate for the Kellowian system is all based around parties.

In any case, an independent MP, even with a miniscule voting power in the Commons would still perform the vital function of representing his constituents in the chambre.

A solitary independent MP would still enjoy all the other advantages of being able to adddress the house, propose private members' bills, serve on parliamentary committees, gain access to the media, and so on.

Frankly his or her one full vote in the Commons, as at present, is, except under very exceptional circumstances, neither here nor there.


Three hundred years ago this would have been seen as a defect, as the idea was that you voted for a candidate not a party. Political parties as we know them were in their infancy

Now the parliamentary party system is a fait accompli - not just in Britain but in every democratic country of the world. Some people may cling on to the idea of individual representation but the reality is that people vote for parties more than individuals in most case.

Having said that one of the great advantages of the current FPTP over PR systems is that PR systems, of whatever type, always do away with representation of a constituent by a single person. Thus any given MP can evade responsibility for looking after the people how voted for him or her. MPs no longer have “constituents” as such. Constituents have no one person to turn to.

The Kellowian system because it uses the same method of voting as FPTP preserves this important characteristic of it.

Our constitution, like that of every country in the world, takes no account of the existence of political parties and does not mention them. For the constitution they simply do not exist.

But they do exist. They are essential to our political life.

With the introduction of the Kellowian system, for the first time political parties would be recognised by the constitution. The injustice of our voting arrangements results in the fact that, for the constitution, political parties do not exist

It is worth noting that exactly the same premise underlies all PR or AV or whatever system. They cling to the myth that we can base the democratic system ignoring political parties when the voters do anything but ignore them


The issue of electoral reform should not be a party matter. The Kellowian system is not especially a republican system. It can benefit any constitutional democracy - republican or monarchist

This newsletter is going out to people from all the parties.

Let us hope for the sake of real democracy and proper representation its gets taken up.


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