Fighting for fair votes in the marginals: alliances, spoiler effects and tactical voting

One of the worst effects of Proportional Representation is the way it divides the country up into places where votes matter, and places where they do not.

On the one hand, there are safe seats. There are so many of them that vast electoral deserts now extend across much of the UK - where little campaigning takes place and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. 

Constituencies like Surrey South West fall into this category. The constituency has never changed hands, and with over 59% of the vote, Jeremy Hunt seems unassailable. When discussing the voting system, Hunt is philosophical about the predicament of the other 40% of voters:

Of course, there are other candidates standing, and two of them are fiercely strong supporters of a fair voting system. But because of the unfair system we currently have, it will take an upset of historic proportions for either of them - or the voices of their voters - to make it to Parliament. 

Unfortunately for British democracy, most constituencies are safe seats - resulting in uncompetitive elections, inaccurate representation of the voters, and disillusionment with the democratic process.

On the the other hand, there are some marginal constituencies which could be tight races. Here we take a look at the candidates' views of PR in some of the UK's genuinely competitive elections...

None of these constituencies are easy to predict - which is what makes them so rare among our Parliamentary constituencies. Their rarity in itself is a damning indictment of our broken voting system.

But even in the marginals First Past the Post fails. In fact, it is here where votes are most valuable that tactical voting is most rational - in many of these constituencies the party you want to vote for may not be standing because of our voting system. And all too often a vote for the candidate you believe in is a vote that's thrown away.

What we need is a voting system in which everyone can vote for whoever they believe in - a system of Proportional Representation - so everyone will have a vote that matters equally and seats will match votes.