Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Electoral systems and systems of measurements: A very British mess

Red Lion pub on Whitehall
Originally uploaded by FoolishCross

It’s impossible to tell which electoral system that is used in the UK, because almost every single election uses its own system: First-past-the-post for Westminster, AMS for the Scottish Parliament, STV for Scottish council elections, and d’Hondt for the elections for the European Parliament.

I think the intention originally was to test out different systems and then to introduce the best one everywhere, but at the moment there seems to be no urgency to do so.

Similarly, the metric system was introduced in schools and in many other contexts decades ago, but the imperial system is still found in lots of places, for instance for buying beer and milk, and for measuring heights and weights.

So the situation is that kids actually only learn to use the metric system, but they still use stones, inches, pints and so on all the time without actually knowing how to use them.

It’s ridiculous, but again the UK seem to pause halfway through the introduction of a new system, instead of biting the bullet and going all the way (or reverting to the original situation).

Why is that? What is this national obsession with never finishing anything?

I guess it’s good the UK never decided to switch to driving on the right, or we would have been stuck with a situation where motorways and roundabouts and half the cars were for driving on the right, and the rest were still for driving on the left!

(PS: Do click on the photo to read its description. It’s the pub that saved the pound, kind of.)

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