Democracy and the UK elections

 

Sir, – Simon O’Neill is sceptical about various commentators in The Irish Times who have expressed concern about the state of UK democracy (Letters, November 18th). Surely, he suggests, winning an election is merely a matter of gaining more votes than the loser.

I last voted in a UK election in February 1974. On election day I was still three weeks short of my 18th birthday but my father told me not to worry about a little thing like that and I accompanied him to the polling station where I proudly cast my vote for the old Liberal Party.

The Liberals won six million votes but only 14 seats, the Conservatives received fewer than 12 million votes but won 297 seats, the Labour Party received 250,000 less votes than the Conservatives but secured four more seats (301) and formed the new government.

As a 17-year-old I was dumbfounded by the result, particularly that the Liberals could win nearly 20 per cent of the vote but only 2 per cent of the seats, and ever since I have preferred not to vote in UK general elections. The UK electoral system is archaic and undemocratic and Irish commentators are right to raise concerns. – Yours, etc,

DAMIAN HUGH O’NEILL,

London, England.