This article, by Mark Pack from last year, shows that nearly a third of parliamentary seats haven’t changed hands, between the parties, since the Second World War.
Looking at the evidence as to how our electoral system actually works in practice, it is remarkably ossified. Let’s first look at how many Parliamentary seats have been consistently held by the same party since the end of Second World War, with no gain for another party in either 1945 or any of the sixteen general elections held since then:
So in just a shade under a third of seats, nothing – social change, economic booms and busts, Tory landslides, Labour landslides, nationalist and third party surges and slumps, individual scandals or the impact of Churchill, Thatcher or Blair has been enough to see the seat change hands, even just the once.
So what? If an Member of Parliament knows that his seat is never going to be taken away from him, what is his incentive to listen to his constituents and to actively work for his community? They can become complacent and stop caring. This isn’t true for every MP in these seats, if they do work hard they would do well under the ‘Alternative Vote’, but it is true for some MPs. Some take their position for granted knowing the seat hasn’t changed colour for generations. Only a bad MP would encourage this complacency – only a bad MP would campaign for First Past the Post and a ‘No’ vote.
Equally, people who know that they are never going to unseat their MP – however badly behaved their Member of Parliament might have been – they stop registering to vote and stop voting. “What’s the point? It makes no difference anyway.” Declining voter turn-out results. In the 1950 General Election there was a voter turn-out of 83.6%, but by 2001 this had reached only 59.2%! Let’s give people their voice back and make MPs work for their votes – vote ‘Yes’.