First past the post
Sir, – Paul Delaney (Letters, January 20th) seeks to excuse the “apparent injustice” of the first-past-the-post electoral system in the UK. He finds an explanation for the apparently anomalous result whereby the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 48 seats with 3.9 per cent of the vote while the Liberal Democrat’s won only 11 with 11.5 per cent in the “salient fact” that the SNP only contested seats in Scotland and won 45 per cent of the vote in Scotland, while the Liberal Democrats contested most constituencies.
While this is undoubtedly true, it is nevertheless an important part of the injustice of the first-past-the-post system. It disproportionately rewards parties whose voters are concentrated in one area of the country. This is at the expense of rewarding what really should count: a party’s share of the votes. It is another element of the arbitrariness of the system that gives dramatically exaggerated rewards to both very large parties and regional parties. While it is the case that the SNP won a very significant share of the votes within Scotland, one would have to think that 45 per cent of the votes should not necessarily entitle a party to almost 80 per cent of Scottish seats. – Yours, etc,