Why the proportional representation element should be kept in the London general election
A new report by the Electoral Reform Society makes a simple but convincing argument
National government interference in City Hall affairs includes not only the London Plan and, of course, the harmful nationalization of Transport for London, but the way Londoners elect their Mayor.
In March, plans were announced to abolish the Supplementary Vote System, which allows Londoners to express first and second preferences for the Mayor, and replace it with First Past The Post. Home Secretary Priti Patel claimed that FPTP “ensures strong and clear local accountability”. She hasn’t explained why the current system isn’t working or how it works to hack away large chunks of the mayor’s autonomy.
So far, there has been no announcement that the London Assembly’s voting model, which combines the FPTP with some form of proportional representation, could be reduced to the FPTP alone, although it was said that a previous Conservative government wanted it.
Of the 25 seats in the Congregation, 14 are constituency seats, which are used by FPTP, and the other 11 are Londonwide seats, which are PR contested. It is the PR element that has allowed smaller parties from the Greens to the British National Party to be represented in the Assembly since the first elections in 2000.
There are credible arguments for assembly reform that have received much (often undeserved) criticism. Doing without the PR component of make-up is not one of them.
A new report from the Electoral Reform Society, a strong PR advocate, makes a good case against the undermining of London’s democratic rights and any desire to do the same with the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
It just shows that the PR element of the assembly system ensures that the political nature of the assembly is far more representative of the political preferences of Londoners than general elections and therefore a much fairer mechanism of representative democracy.
In all general elections since 1997, Labor has won a majority of the parliamentary seats in London – from 77 percent in 1997 to 52.1 percent in 2010 – but only once, in 2017, has the party won more than 50 percent of the total of the voices in these London seats.
In contrast, after the six assembly elections so far, the largest parties in the assembly – sometimes Labor, sometimes the Conservatives – have secured seats closer to their overall share of the vote.
And the overall share of assembly seats in the May delayed elections shows that although Labor and Tories got larger chunks of the assembly cake than their percentages of the vote, in the PR portion of the election Liberal Democrats and Greens got close to proportional shares.
Speaking to the researchers, AM Caroline Russell of the Green Party emphasized the contrast between the presence of the now three-member Green group, which accurately reflects the party’s 11.8 percent share of the vote, and its position as the only non-Labor member of Islington Council . where the support for the greens is much stronger than a single seat suggests.
The Electoral Reform Society’s report is called Here To Stay. Let’s hope his optimism is not hasty.
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