When we head into the polling booth, we all want to vote for something that we believe in, rather than voting for the ‘least worst option’. However, our current first past the post electoral system means that the votes of millions of people in communities across the United Kingdom do not count, simply because of where they happen to live. This means that extreme minority groups that do not accurately reflect the views of the community that they serve are able to secure and hold on to power. This leads to many MPs in safe seats wrongly believing that they do not have to act in the best interests of their constituents, as they do not fear accountability.
In recent years, there has been a significant rise in people attempting to subvert the First Past the Post system by voting tactically. However, while these efforts are well intentioned, they only serve to pervert the democratic process further by encouraging people to vote against the candidate that they most fear, rather than voting for the candidate who they genuinely wish to represent them.
In addition, tactical voting makes it impossible to accurately ascertain what people were actually voting for, as many people feel forced into voting for the candidate that represents the ‘lesser evil’ with a chance of winning, rather than the candidate that most accurately reflects their views. This means that political parties don’t get accurate information about the needs and desires of the communities that they seek to serve, and therefore they are unable to effectively tailor their policy platforms to reflect what the electorate actually wants.
Democracy is not a game. People shouldn’t have to be master tacticians in order to cast a ballot. Every person deserves to make their voice heard by voting for the candidate that they believe will do the most good in their community, rather than the candidate who they believe will do the least amount of damage.
Finally, this ‘winner takes all’ arrangement only serves to amplify political divisions by encouraging ‘win at all costs’ behaviours that only serve to further entrench political polarisation. In a time when we are grappling with unprecedented challenges and our society is more divided than ever, the last thing that we need is petty political squabbles preventing tangible policy solutions.
It’s time to replace the outdated First-Past-The-Post electoral system with a form of proportional representation. It’s time that we had a political system that ensures that all of our voices are heard.