Newham Recorder Big Debate: Does the UK need electoral reform to replace first past the post?

Following the election of a majority Conservative government, smaller parties like the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and the Green Party feel the "first past the post system" allows unpopular governments to hold onto power they don't deserve. But Festus Akinbusoye, West Ham's Conservative candidate for 2015, believes the system works as we ask: "Does the United Kingdom need electoral reform to replace first past the post?"

Festus Akinbusoye, Conservative Party's 2015 general election candidate for West Ham

Critics of the FPTP system cite a lack of proportionality and fairness as reasons for change.

I disagree with this view for three reasons.

Firstly, the key issue is not about finding a perfect system of determining who represents us, but raising the level of political engagement.

Proportional Representation (PR) will be no better a system if only 35 per cent of those eligible to vote turn out.

Listening to critics of FPTP, you would think an alternative voting system was the solution to political disengagement. The truth is it isn't.

We'd be better off focusing our energies on making politicians more accountable.

Secondly, critics of the 2010 coalition focused largely on "Lib Dem betrayal" over student fees.

A PR system will guarantee coalitions for eternity, making party promises meaningless.

Nobody who wants parties to be held to account can support a system that makes dark-room deals the norm and accountability based on election promises impossible.

You only need look at Israel, Belgium and Italy as examples of perpetual coalitions when FPTP is not in place.

And PR makes it much easier for radical far right and left parties to get into office.

Do we really want a BNP-like party in Westminster? I doubt it.

Thirdly, once we go into the detail of what a proportional system may look like, we get even more confusion.

Some systems require huge multi-MP constituencies, making it extremely difficult for MPs to build relationships with voters.

For example, a seven-member Scottish constituency would cover an area it would take more than five hours to travel across, not including the islands.

If you thinks it's hard to reach your MP now, try doing so under a PR system!

Our focus as a democracy is to make the voice of the electorate heard. No electoral system is perfect but FPTP is the best and we should stick with it.