What does the Ideal House of Commons look like? What if, instead of choosing an individual MP, the British public could choose the composition of the entire House of Commons?
What if, YouGov, what if? To find out, the polling firm – which, it must be said, is having a pretty good run of putting out the sort of slightly shady research that’s just perfect for grabbing shocked clicks on social media – asked 5,000 people to design their own ideal House of Commons. It’s a bit like that IKEA app in which you can redesign your living room, except instead of self-assembly shelves and tasteful rugs called things like Bjorn Borg, all you get a bunch of politicians in tasteful suits.
So. What did the great British public, whose views must be respected and which is never wrong about literally anything ever, want the House of Commons to look like?
1) The average member of the public does not want a functioning government
Look at this clusterfuck:
There is, best I can see, no possible government in there that isn’t going to be a nightmare for all concerned. To form a majority government, you either need:
a) a coalition of at least four parties, and dear god no; or
b) Labour and the Tories putting their differences aside and coming together to form a “grand coalition” in the national interest.
There are two ways of reading this result: either the public, despite the apparent implications of the recent referendum, wants Britain to be a lot more like Germany; or, they don’t actually want a government at all. Which seems more likely to you?
2) They do want the lack of government to be a Labour lack of government, though
Labour 223, Conservative 215. This isn’t really new information – it fits with the party’s slight but consistent polling lead of late. But the collapse of the Tory vote share over the past three months is the single funniest thing to have happened in British politics in decades, so I’m still including it in my list.
3) They also want the Lib Dems back as a third party
Which is funny, because while the average member of the public wants the Lib Dems to get 56 seats – nearly as many as the 57 they got in 2010, and literally four times as many as they have now – this desire doesn’t seem to extend to actually bothering to vote for them. Basically, we all just wish other people were voting Lib Dem.
4) They want the SNP cut down to size
In 2017, the Nats got 3 per cent of the UK-wide vote: if that sounds low it’s hardly surprising, because they didn’t even stand in the overwhelming majority of seats. Scotland has just 59 MPs.
Nonetheless, their 3 per cent still won them 35 seats, making them the third largest force in the Commons. In 2015, of course, they did even better, winning 56 seats – 8.6 per cent of the lot, on just 4.7 per cent of the vote. First Past the Post may be bad news for the Lib Dems, but it’s great if you’re a regional party.
In the fantasy Commons, though, they’re down to 23 – 3.5 per cent of the commons, rather more in line with their actual vote share. Which sort of makes sense.
Less explicable is the 16 seats the average voter is giving to Plaid Cymru. That’s up from just four in reality, and is waaaaay out of line from the 0.5 per cent of the votes they actually get.
One possible explanation for this is that the party is vastly more popular outside Wales, where people can’t vote for it, than inside Wales, where people can. Frankly, though, who knows?
5) The hard right is back in a big way
Our average member of the public gives Ukip 29 seats and the BNP (remember them?) six.
I’m gonna be honest with you here, I can’t immediately see a way of making that fact funny.
YouGov also helpfully broke the results down so we can see what voters from each individual party would like to do with the Commons. So:
6) Even the average Tory doesn’t want a three figure majority
Remember how, before the election, we all thought Theresa May was on course for the largest landslide in eighty years? A majority of 100? Or 150, even?
Even Tory voters think that’s a terrible idea. They only want a majority of 80:
7) Labour voters are actually even less enthusiastic about a Labour landslide:
Majority of 58. That’s less than Blair in 2005, or Wilson in 1966, neither of which are exactly remembered as landslides today.
8) LibDem voters don’t even want the Lib Dems to be the largest party:
This is by far the funniest thing about this entire survey:
Honestly, what kind of political party do you have to be for your own voters to not actually want you to win? The ideal result for the average Lib Dem is apparently to come second to Labour.
Do they want a lovely coalition with Labour? To be kingmakers, with choice of coalitions? Not to be in government at all, but just to torture minority governments forever more? What is wrong with these people?
9) Even the Greens are actually more serious about their own political prospects than the Lib Dems
That’s still a coalition, but it’s one in which they’re much closer to parity with Labour. But it means the Lib Dems are taking all this less seriously than the Greens.
10) Basically everyone wants far more Green MPs
Honestly: Labour and the Lib Dems are each giving them more than 40. Even the Tories want 11, and Ukip voters want 20 (I’m guessing this is an anti-establishment thing, rather than a secret love of windfarms).
This result isn’t funny in itself, but it is pretty funny when you remember that the actual number of Green MPs is “one”, and then imagine Green voters reading these results and getting increasingly incoherent with rage at quite how much they’ve been shafted by the British political system.
11) Everyone wants more feminists – except the Tories
In the public’s ideal Commons, there are 12 members of the Women’s Equality Party, making it the eighth party. Labour voters want 14, Lib Dems want 11, Greens want 15… Even Ukip voters want 13, the same number of seats they’d give, er, the BNP.
How many WEP MPs do the Tories want? Five. I’m saying nothing.
12) The average Ukip voter’s ideal House of Commons is an actual vision of hell
Ukip as largest party, leading to a Ukip/Tory coalition in which the Tories are the junior partner.
I’ve been thinking about this scenario for some time, trying to come up with an upside so I can end on a joke, and the only one I can think of is: well, at least it puts the prospect of imminent nuclear war with North Korea into some kind of perspective.
If you’re the kind of sick bastard who’d like to read more about this survey, you can do so here.