The recent article, how to make STC more democratic, discussing the lack of democracy in disparity of seats not matching votes cast was very interesting.
In the October (2022) council meeting, the following motion was voted down.
Support for Proportional Representation in UK Elections
Proposer of the motion: Cllr David Herbert on behalf of the Green Councillor Group
This council notes that:
First Past the Post (FPTP) originated when land-owning aristocrats dominated parliament and voting was restricted to ‘property-owning men’.
In Europe, only the UK and authoritarian Belarus still use archaic single-round FPTP voting systems for general elections. Meanwhile, internationally, Proportional Representation (PR) is used to elect parliaments in more than 80 countries. Those countries tend to be more equal, freer and greener.
PR ensures all votes count, have equal value and the seats won match the number of votes cast. Under PR, MPs and parliaments better reflect the age, gender and protected characteristics of local communities and the nation.
When MPs better-reflect their communities, this leads to improved decision-making, wider participation and increased levels of ‘ownership’ of decisions taken. PR would also end minority rule. In 2019, 43% of the vote produced a government with 56% of the seats and 100% of the power! PR also prevents wrong winner elections, such as occurred in 1951 and February 1974.
PR is already used to elect the parliaments and assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So why not Westminster?
The Scottish Parliament has an Additional Member System (AMS). Under this, 73 MSPs are elected from constituencies using FPTP and another 56 are elected from eight regional lists. These top up the constituency seats to make the final mix of MSPs more accurately reflect the proportion of votes given by the public for each party.
At the recent Labour Party Conference Labour party members and affiliated unions including, UNISON and Unite voted for a manifesto commitment to introduce PR for general elections. Now all major party memberships, bar the Conservatives, are united on the need for electoral reform and committed to delivering a fair electoral system where every vote counts.
It would be totally inconsistent to have PR in national elections and retain the less democratic FPTP system in local elections. Local elections should also convert to PR. People are disillusioned with politics but that suits vested interests. It suits people who are already in power because they don’t want others involved.
Council therefore resolves to:
Ask the Leader of South Tyneside Council to write to the Prime Minister, calling for a change in our outdated electoral laws to enable Proportional Representation to be used for general and local elections.