LETER OF THE DAY: Time for a new political party?

Picture: Steve Reid
Picture: Steve Reid
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There’s been speculation about whether the UK needs a new political party positioned somewhere between the Brexit-leaning Tories and Corbyn’s Labour.

A reported £50m is said to be available for those prepared to take up the challenge.

But history and First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system suggest the going will be tough.

Memories of the SDP and their alliance with the Liberals in the eighties spring to mind.

In 1983,despite polling six million votes, it won just 23 seats and then a little later the SDP disappeared altogether.

The similar fate awaits Ukip who, like the Greens and the Lib Dems, struggle to survive under the UK’s medieval voting arrangements.

It’s not so much the number of votes for each party but more where the votes are cast that make the difference. Parties whose support is highly localised do better than those whose support is more evenly spread around the country.

Recognising this led to the practice of seat targeting or concentrating on seats where the challengers achieved a viable second place.

The rise of Corbyn and hard Brexiteers has triggered a return to binary politics leaving a centre ground sparsely populated by the Lib Dems and possibly many more with no party.

Without targeting it is doubtful whether even they would have won a dozen seats in the 2017 election despite getting almost 2.4 million votes.

Not that a new party is beyond hope as France’s Emmanuel Macron’s new En Marche party spectacularly demonstrated in their recent elections.

Ray Cobbett

Beach Road, Emsworth