John Lanchester · That was a downer
Well that was a downer.
It’s a good thing that the Labour party didn’t suffer a generational wipe-out of the sort which seemed possible a couple of months ago. But the prospect of real structural change seems remote today, as the parties jostle and try to find a way of stitching up the Lib Dems with a referendum on electoral reform that they are sure to lose. It’s a paradox of our shitty system that the disappointing Lib Dem share of seats (on an increased share of the vote) ends up with them having more power than they’ve had in many decades.
As for that system:
Labour in 2005: 35.2 per cent, 355 seats, majority of 66.
Tories in 2010: 36.2 per cent, about 308 seats, minority of 34.
The Tories have done a full point better than Labour did in 2005 but the difference in the outcome is about 100 seats worse. Speaking as a lifelong non-Tory, this seems indefensible to me and I don’t understand why they don’t make more of a fuss about it. And now they’ll all go off somewhere and stich up a deal, with aides murmuring into mobiles while the party leaders keep going on adrenaline, caffeine, and the knowledge that the bond markets will want an arrangement in place by Monday. So much for our our decisive, bracingly unfair first-past-the post system. Whatever democracy is supposed to feel like, it’s not like this.