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A Musing on Proportional Representation

Ballot box

I am not a political scholar, just someone who quite enjoys a good argument and who wants to help. One of the things I am most passionate about it electoral reform, specifically into a form of proportional representation. What this essentially means is that the system must be set up to make the power in Parliament match the national vote, e.g. democracy. Arguments immediately start over the exact proportional representation implementation that should be used.

I don’t know precisely what my proposed system of proportional representation would be defined as, so I welcome any comments from actual academics within the field of politics.

Before the Ballot

In my system, the election starts well before the ballot, with each party wishing to stand generating a list of up to 650 potential politicians. This them means that if they miraculously win 100% of the vote, they have the candidates to fill the posts. This then allows voters to look at what the party is looking to achieve, and where their preferred candidates sit in the party list.

It will remain down to individual parties to determine how they put together their lists, but the expectation is that this will end up being a democratic process of some sort. That said, if a party decided to choose an entirely arbitrary means of creating their list, that would be entirely fine as long as their methodology is fully disclosed to an electorate.

The Election

One of the criticisms of many proportional representation systems is complexity. In my example, voters would still vote for only one party, but the list of parties would include every party that had created a 650-person list.

The tally of votes would be counted, the proportion of support calculated for each party, and the number of seats would be directly generated from that level of support. For example, 2% of the votes would be 13 seats (2% of 650). Some rounding would be needed, but as a single seat is 0.15% of the number of MPs, the number of MPs could very closely match the votes cast in terms of proportionality.

Constituency Link

Another criticism of a change to proportional representation is the breach of the perceived link between MP and constituency. My counter to that is that this can be very rare in any case. A classic example is Boris Johnson, who has rarely been seen at all doing anything for his Uxbridge & South Ruislip constituency.

The constituency link can be something of an illusion anyway. I live in a constituency with a Labour MP, and am campaigning in a constituency with a Conservative MP. Neither of these two represent my core views, especially on the principle of democracy that I stand for. So the question is “am I actually being represented now?”, and the answer has to be “no, not really”.

So how might we change this to keep a link to the constituencies?

Missing poster for Boris Johnson. Would he still have a seat under a proportional representation system? possibly, but more people would be angry at him not doing his job.

There are 650 constituencies to match the 650 MP seats in the Commons. If each part assigns each constituency to one of their MPs, then each MP can look after multiple constituencies depending on the level of support their party received. For simplicity, let’s consider the situation where a party gets 25% of the votes, that would mean that each MP in that party would be assigned 4 constituencies. The beauty of this is that the total number of constituents that the MP is looking after for their party would be broadly equal to the number of people who actually voted for them, meaning each MP looks after around 70,000 voters for their own party, whether that be entirely localised or across the entire country.

In my situation, I live in a constituency that voted 8.8% for Lib Dems (historically this is a very Labour-loyal area, so James Murray got 56.5% of the vote). Under my system, this would mean that I could choose to approach my Labour MP, who would represent my constituency and probably one other, or I could go instead to my Lib Dem MP, who would likely represent my constituency and around 10 others, but the total number of constituents who actually voted for them would be approximately the same.

What Might Proportional Representation Implementation Do?

So what might this have resulted in when we last had a General Election in 2019? The table below shows the seats that were awarded to each part and compares it to a proportional representation implementation of some sort:

PartyVote ShareSeatsSeats Under PR
Liberal Democrats11.5%1175
Sinn Féin0.6%74
Plaid Cymru0.5%43

So who benefits? I have listed below the parties which benefit from this situation by having more than their fair share of MPs, and next to them I have listed the parties which suffer. I have excluded those which don’t have an appreciable difference:

Parties which benefit

Sinn Féin

Parties which suffer

Liberal Democrats

Labour didn’t really benefit in the last election, but historically they certainly have.


I think it’s pretty clear that proportional representation could work easily, and could also maintain the constituency link. I would be really interested in hearing from political academics to learn exactly what this system should be called – suspect it’s a modification of a list-based system.

Regardless of terminology, this is clearly much more democratic than our current system, as it would apportion seats in Parliament according to the actual votes received by a party.

Hazeena A

Ian, thank you once again for your support. It means a lot.

Thank you so much for [creating this petition] and so amazingly quickly!!!

You did a brilliant job on both the blog and petition. Some of the NHS staff were even impressed with the speed at which you addressed this, and I have had varying positive comments from friends who have read your post.

Hazeena A – Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner Resident

Sheena Y

Having worked with Ian I can say that I found him incredibly transparent and honest which I think would be rare and much needed in today political arena. He is also very clever, direct and a great communicator.

Sheena Y, former co-worker

Andy H

Ian is a very smart individual, but more importantly is honest and truly cares about people.

He is an unselfish individual and would absolutely have the public’s best interests at heart.

Andy H, brother

Luca M

I met Ian a few months ago for the first time and straight away I felt confortable with him and I thought: ” Ok I would trust that guy”.

Luca M, fellow speakers’ club member

Francisco V

Throughout the 12 years I have known Ian, he has always demonstrated to be very bright, kind and upright. I’ve seen all of these attributes in his personal life, for instance, in our sport association he volunteered as treasurer where he improved the overall system and costs as well as championing charitable giving & generous donations. He’ll definitely make a difference in a bigger role in politics.

Francisco V, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friend

Irene H

You have the moral integrity and high standards in all aspects of the requirements of your potential constituents. You will stand up to injustice and defend those deemed to have had injustice against them. You are committed to environmental change and to look after the less well off in society.

Irene H, mother

Graham C

First and foremost, your personal ethos of kindness and care for others is your top qualification. That you are also highly driven with a need to be productive, and understand very complex matters such as financial systems, makes you stand out.

Graham C, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friend


You are one of the most principled people that I know. You are committed to making changes that support the most vulnerable in our society and you don’t give up when you know you’re fighting for what’s right.


Helen C

Unlike the rest of us who are disillusioned with the lack of honesty, morals, and the unfair and outdated ‘public schoolboy network’ displayed by this government, you have decided to stand up and make a difference.
Your constituents couldn’t have a better candidate.

Helen C, Aunt

Miles H

Having known Ian for a number of years during which we worked closely as Financial Advisers, I am confident that he would make an excellent MP. Ian is an intelligent man who has the ability to absorb, understand and manage complex information quickly; I have, on many occasions, witnessed him do this whilst retaining the ability to explain it, in a manner which is easy to understand.

I have seen Ian display the courage of his convictions on a professional level, where he has put the clients needs before that of the company and have no doubt he would carry this attitude into public life.

Ian and I have disagreed on politics in the past, but he has always listened carefully to any position and taken time to offer a thoughtful response. If he became an MP I am sure his constituents would benefit from an effective and hard working representative.

Miles H, former co-worker

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