Justifiably, the Liberal Democrats have long bemoaned how First Past the Post (FPTP) has substantially benefited the two main parties at their expense. Funnily enough, England’s skewed FPTP system (used in English local elections and UK-wide in General Elections) occasionally favours the LibDems.
FPTP and St Albans Lib Dems
In May this year the LibDems massively increased their majority on St Albans City and District Council from 30 seats to 50, winning 89 percent of the seats with just 57 percent of the votes. The Conservatives were reduced from 23 seats to a mere rump of four.
The local Tory response in the Herts Advertiser to the losses in St Albans were far from sanguine:
“From a governance perspective the situation looks unhealthy. The normal controls will not work, for example on the Audit Committee the Liberal Democrats will be marking their own homework. …The administration can do what they like, unchecked. …The consequence of the election locally is that we are now living in a one-party state. …We now have a council with no scrutiny…”
Conservatives have railed against these results, but they are the same arguments Make Votes Matter East Herts has made about Conservative-controlled East Hertfordshire District Council.
Perhaps we should invite the St Albans Conservatives to join Make Votes Matter and campaign for Proportional Representation so they may be better represented on their Council in the future.
Make Votes Matter is a national movement campaigning for the House of Commons to be elected by Proportional Representation, so that seats in Parliament match how the people vote and every vote counts, regardless of where you live or for whom you vote.
FPTP and East Herts Tories
The Liberal Democrat vote share in St Albans was similar to the 59 percent the Conservatives received in East Herts in 2015. On that occasion the Conservatives won all the seats; there were no other parties represented. In 2015 the East Herts Tories did not complain about the complete absence of scrutiny. In fact, the lack of opposition allowed them to implement two large, costly, controversial schemes: the theatre/cinema complex in Hertford and the Old River Lane development in Bishop’s Stortford.
In 2019, ten opposition Councillors were elected to East Herts District Council. But FPTP continued to work in the Conservatives’ favour, granting them 80 percent of the Council seats on just 47 percent of the vote. Does that allow proper scrutiny? Is that democracy?