I WRITE in response to Dougie Gray corresponding from Dunbar (Letters, November 13). I agree absolutely that the first-past-the-post system is utterly ludicrous. I believe though he overestimates the minimum number of votes necessary to make it work to the advantage of a particular party, and thus underestimates the number of potentially wasted votes.

In effect, the only votes that actually count in first past the post are those in winning constituencies for the winning party. Other votes are counted only on the way to discovering which candidate wins in each seat. These votes are only added together by psephologists and pundits – they make no difference to the distribution of seats.

READ MORE: It’s time Westminster ditched unfair system of first past the post

If there is a 75% turnout and there are three parties standing for each seat, then the minimum number of votes necessary for a parliamentary majority would arise if all of these seats were marginal, if the eventual winner won by only one vote, and if the winning party won by one seat.

This means that in the UK, where there are 47,785,500 registered voters (at last count) and 650 constituencies, at an election with a 75% turnout and three parties standing, under these most marginal conditions, only 5,991,893 votes would be absolutely necessary to take power.

This is only slightly more that 12.5% of the voting population. Which means that 87.5% of votes would be wasted.

In reality of course the number is much less because so many constituencies can be written off by party campaigning machines as either safe or not winnable. The battle ground inevitably turns on a few marginal constituencies.

Even assuming that in order to secure government a party must win in 100 marginals, with only three parties contesting and a 75% turnout, the theoretical minimum number of votes would be only 1,838,004, or only 3.9% of the voting population. With four parties the number would drop to 1,378,528, or 2.9%.

Once demographics are factored in, the number no doubt drops even further.

The first-past-the-post voting system is designed to waste votes. The powers-that-be know this, they take advantage of it and are unlikely ever to consent to changing it. This is not democracy, just more bread and circuses.

Andy Duncan

IN the midst of the lies, untruths and obfuscation in this General Election campaign there is surely one item that candidates can get right with no confusion, and that is who they are standing for.

As I write (on Wednesday) the nominations are due to close at 4pm and we will all know who is standing for what ... or will we?

The political party that each candidate is a member of will be printed on their membership card and should be registered with the Electoral Commission to be legitimate, which means as far as I am concerned that anyone using a spurious title to a non-existent party should be struck off the list on the ballot paper.

Non-existent parties include The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, The Scottish Liberal Party and The Scottish Labour Party – all not registered and therefore fraudulent in usage to describe anyone.

Could The National please print a full list of all candidates standing and how they describe themselves, so any frauds are evident?

I notice tonight (Wednesday) there is a “party” political broadcast by The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. I rest my case.

Richard Easson