- democratic power that we have in Britain is more unevenly distributed than income
- the most powerful electors in Britain have 50 times more power in an election that the least powerful
- significant evidence that the democratic deficit is making us unhappy
Philip Booth, a spokesperson for the Gloucestershire Green party said: "This new research confirms what many people feel and express - it isn't worth voting. In Tewkesbury and Cotswolds voters have very little power; between 90 and 95% of potential democratic power is wasted (iii). There is a little more power in Cheltenham, Stroud and Gloucester, but the most in the Forest - even there 58% of potential democratic power is wasted."
Philip Booth said: "Urgent action is needed to give British voters a fair share of democratic power. Our current 'democracy' is undemocratic, unjust and fails to translate the will of the electorate into the structure of government - it is no wonder so many people have given up voting. If we want to engage with the electorate, then we must ensure that people have a fair share of democratic power.”
The last election
In the last election Labour won their 'significant' 67 seat majority with only 21% of the total electorate (35.2% of the vote); a record low for a winning party. They gained 159 more seats than the Tories who only polled 3% less than them. In simple terms for every person who voted Labour, almost two voted for other parties and two did not vote. Turnout was an abysmal 61.3%.
Philip Booth added: "The hundreds of thousands who support the Green party still have no voice at Westminister. Many of us know we must put climate change at the centre of decision making, but what we get from the 'big' three parties is their 'business-as-usual' approach with support for road building and airport extensions. Indeed in June this year 83% of the British public thought Blair should risk an argument with Bush at Gleneagles over climate change, but this was clearly not on his agenda. It is time our electoral system was reformed so all voices can be heard fairly."
The research also revealed that our current system is not only structurally unjust; there also is an inbuilt inertia to change. The winning party in an election is likely to have the safest seats, and its candidates’ best placed to come second where there is a change. The research shows that in the 2005 election the 100 constituencies where the voters with least power live were all safe labour seats and that the conservatives benefited similarly in the 1980s.
Notes to the Editor:
(i) See the New Economics Foundation report, 'Spoiled ballot':
(ii) nef launches a new Index of Democratic Power (IDP): the IDP is based on analysis of British voters’ ability to influence the results of elections from 1954 to 2005.
(iii) If each voter in a British election had their fare share of democratic power, they would have an IDP score of 100. Research into Gloucestershire shows:
Constituency Name - IDP 2005 - IDP Rank Order
Cheltenham 24.60 184
Cotswold 5.72 402
Forest of Dean 62.19 42
Gloucester 34.83 122
Stroud 32.02 136
Tewkesbury 11.90 301