The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

How Many Lib Dem Votes Does It Take To Change Britain?

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 20, 2010 @ 11:00

But how many Lib Dems does it take to change one of these? Answer: none. Real Lib Dems use energy saving bulbs that go on forever.

I was originally planning a series of three posts today about what exciting outcomes there could be for the Lib Dems from the forthcoming election.

Those three posts will still be written, but not all today. The joys of having work to do.

The refrain of “Vote Lib Dem, Get Insert Other Hated Party Here” is becoming boring and tiresome. If I was a member of the disenchanted public, with no interest in politics other than in the brief election periods, I would certainly find it pretty irritating that I couldn’t vote for who I wanted, because Mr Brown and Mr Cameron tell me by doing so I will “waste” it.

This kind of notion is both the paradox of voting and a collective action problem rolled into one. Everybody waits for everyone else to vote Lib Dem, the result being an insufficient number of votes to Make A Difference. But in the meantime, some bold people defy expected rational choice and do it anyway, knowing full well that they won’t elect a Lib Dem MP.

Expressed in easier terms: “I would vote Lib Dem if everyone else voted Lib Dem, because otherwise I might as well vote Tory and kick my Labour MP out” (and vice versa).

But if only we had more people who would defy the paradox of voting. More people who said “to hell with rationality” and voted Lib Dem anyway; yes, throwing away their vote, but contributing to the attitude of rebellion and revulsion of our rotten political system.

Because when you reach a certain level, all of a sudden the vote is no longer wasted.

10,000 votes? All of them wasted.

12,500 votes? All of them wasted.

15,000 votes? Fair chance they’ll still all be wasted. But some MPs.

20,000 votes? Not really wasted. Many more MPs.

25,000 votes? Definitely not wasted. Delivers an MP in most constituencies.

But wait a moment. Let’s say a party scored an average of 10,000 votes in all British constituencies. That would deliver just one MP in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, all lonely and windswept. But guess how many votes in total that would be?

6.32 million.

What about if a party got 12,500 votes in each constituency? They’d get a smattering of MPs. A cupped double handful if they were lucky. How many votes would they have got all over Britain? 7.9 million.

Of course, such a uniform vote distribution would be incredible. But not quite so incredible is the notion of putting on a fairly consistent increase in number of votes in each and every seat. It would mean piling up thousands of votes in “unwinnable” areas. There would literally be squillions of wasted votes. And that would be a shame.

The problem is, it’s happened before.


The Liberal-SDP Alliance: 7.78m votes. 25.4%.

How many seats? 23. 3.6% of the Parliament.

The net result of that election was, as we should all know, a landslide for Thatcher’s Conservative Party.

All this is quite depressing. A rising wave of Lib Dem optimism, at current levels, will not quite make it ashore. It will fizzle out and breakup before landing.

But there is one glimmer of hope. One thing that makes 2010 very different from 1983.

The Conservative Party.

Thatcher achieved 42.4% of the vote.

If recent trends are sustained, David Cameron will not get anywhere near such a figure.

That, combined with Labour’s expected poor showing, makes the election outcome extremely hard to predict, and brings a large variety of possibilities to the table.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get round to writing about them…

Don’t forget to Go Yellow on May 6.

2 Responses to “How Many Lib Dem Votes Does It Take To Change Britain?”

  1. […] How Many Lib Dem Votes Does It Take To Change Britain? […]

  2. laila said

    nick clegg is the one 2 win

    everyone knew that

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