Elections in Britain: A Voter’s Guide by Dick Leonard, Roger Mortimore (auth.)

By Dick Leonard, Roger Mortimore (auth.)

How do British elections paintings? What approximately neighborhood elections and by-elections? How are applicants selected? What has been the impression of alterations brought by means of the current executive? How can a typical voter play his or her half? And why achieve this few humans vote nowadays? Dick Leonard, a political journalist and previous MP, and Roger Mortimore, an opinion pollster, conceal all features of British elections during this up to date variation of the normal paintings, together with accomplished tables of information and results.

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Sample text

Before 1998, the use of party names by candidates was effectively unregulated, and it was possible for mischievous or malicious candidates to use a misleading description so that they might appear to be the official candidate of a party when in fact they were not. 2 This is no longer possible: party names are now officially registered with the Electoral Commission, which has the power to prevent misleading or confusing names being registered;3 no candidate can now use the name of a registered party on the ballot paper unless he or she has been endorsed by the nominating officer; candidates not attached to any registered party will be described simply as ‘Independent’.

For a stiff hurdle it proved in a number of cases: safe seats were to become marginal or even hopeless, and marginal seats might become safe for the other side. In 1950, of the 70 members who lost their seats at least half could blame redistribution, partly or wholly, for their defeat. In 1955 at least eleven members were in the same position. Sir Frank Soskice (Labour) and Sir Ralph Assheton (Conservative) were double casualties, losing their seats through redistribution on both occasions. The inconvenience which redistribution brings, both to members of local political organisations and to ordinary members of the public, was well described by Kenneth (later Sir Kenneth) Thompson, then Conservative MP for Liverpool, Walton, in a speech in the House of Commons on 15 December 1954, which also encapsulated some of the strengths and virtues of the constituency system as a basis of representation.

1 shows, the largest constituency, the Isle of Wight, had an electorate of 99,838 – more than four times as large as the smallest, the Western Isles (in Scotland) with an electorate of 22,784. Both of these constituencies, in fact, are special cases – the inconvenience and geographical impracticability of combining the Western Isles or part of the Isle of Wight with any other area are agreed by all concerned to outweigh any arguments of numerical parity. But the second and third biggest seats in England were twice as big as the two smallest, and the three biggest seats in Scotland much more than twice as big as the smallest mainland Scottish seat.

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