The big problem with FPP is that it divides an election up into many mini elections – one in each electorate. If you live in an electorate that for demographic or economic reasons has always been won by the same party, then a vote for any other party is wasted. Also electorates can have different amounts of people in them, but only one MP. So FPP is quite inefficient at translating the will of the people into a government.
But how inefficient is it, really? How many votes are wasted in this manner? Well, someone with a statistics mind has come up with a way to measure this, and the results are quite scary.
It is clear that [FPP] is hugely inefficient at translating the will of the people into the result of a general election. The [UK FPP] system is only 25% efficient – whereas some sort of proportional representation system would approach 100% efficiency (for example the 2004 European Elections were about 96% efficient).
It betrays the fundamental principle of democracy: one person one vote.
This startling conclusion was reached by calculating, for each electorate in the UK, how marginal that electorate is and the amount of people in that electorate. Marginality is calculated based on how many times the electorate has changed hands in the past. If it rarely changes hands then votes are worth less. Electorates with higher populations still only get one MP to represent them, so the votes of people who live there are worth less.
A web site has been created which will let you get the voter power index (VPI) for any electorate in the UK. I searched for ‘london’ and got Londonberry East which has a VPI of 0.1, meaning each voter has the equivalent of 0.1 votes. Glasgow North-West is 0.045. Stunning. These kinds of results start to make a lot of sense.
I’d be very interested to see if there was a correlation between VPI and income, crime, or any other social indicator. How would having no political power affect you?