How electoral reform would have changed the result

Labour and the Lib Dems would have a majority under a different voting system.

Interest in electoral reform appears to be at an all-time high (I never thought I'd see "proportional representation" trending on Twitter), but how would Friday's result look if we'd already abandoned first-past-the-post?

Thanks to some expert number-crunching by the Electoral Reform Society, we now have some idea.


Election FPTP

Above is the result as it stands. The Tories won 36 per cent of the vote and 47 per cent of the seats, Labour won 29 per cent of the vote and 40 per cent of the seats and the Lib Dems won 23 per cent of the vote but just 9 per cent of the seats.

Single Transferable Vote

Election STV 3

But if we rerun the election under the Single Transferable Vote (STV), the proportional system favoured by the Lib Dems, a very different picture emerges. The Tories fall 60 seats to 246, while Labour falls 51 seats to 207. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems gain no fewer than 105 seats and rise to 162.

The Electoral Reform Society used data from a recent ComRes poll to work out where people's second-preference votes would go.

It's worth noting that under STV, Labour and the Lib Dems hold 369 seats between them, well over the 326 needed for a parliamentary majority. Had Labour abandoned its conservative instincts and opted for proportional representation, the chance of a coalition with Nick Clegg's party would now be much higher.

The Alternative Vote

Election AV

But if we rerun the election under the alternative vote, which is not a proportional system, the result is far less striking. Labour goes up four seats to 262, the Tories fall 25 seats to 281 and the Lib Dems rise 22 seats to 79.

Still, it's worth noting that in this scenario Labour and the Lib Dems again easily pass the 326-seat threshold, with 341 seats between them. Thus, even moderate electoral reform would significantly improve the chance of a "progressive coalition" in the future.

If, as now looks likely, the Lib Dems reach an agreement with the Conservatives, we can expect many accusations of betrayal. But it is worth remembering, looking at these figures, that it was Labour, made arrogant by its landslide victories, that betrayed the Lib Dems on electoral reform.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.