Greens win backing for report on voting reform

A closer look is going to be taken into how Brighton and Hove votes and the potetial effects of voters have to produce identity documents.

Green group convenor Phélim Mac Cafferty made the case for a report on proportional representation and the use of photo ID before the full council on Thursday 19 December.

He said that the Conservatives may believe that the election on Thursday 12 December was a “massive affirmation” of the party’s policies but to him showed how broken the voting system was.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said that just over 40 per cent of the vote for the Conservatives resulted in the party gaining 57 per cent of the seats.

He said that it took more than 800,000 votes to elect one green MP but just 38,000 for a single Conservative.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “It is time this country evolved beyond a Victorian binary voting system reflecting just two parties.

“The way we vote in elections desperately needs changing. The voting system is hardwired to suit the establishment.

“Our voting system does not account for the fact that in 19 out of the last 20 general elections most people voted for parties to the left of the Conservatives.

“Yet the Tories have been in power for 63 per cent of this time.”

He was backed by his deputy, Councillor Hannah Clare, who said that where proportional representation existed a more diverse set of politicians was elected.

Councillor Clare said: “As a young woman, I’ve been so inspired by Finland, who in the last week had their youngest prime minister ever come into post (34-year-old Sanna Marin), joining a senior cabinet of four women in their early thirties, including a Green.

“And while this (UK) general election elected more women than ever before, it’s not enough.

“First past the post holds back our democracy from becoming more diverse.”

She said that the “first past the post” system created unwinnable safe seats.

Northern Ireland and Scotland used the “single transferable vote” method of proportional representation in local elections, she said.

On “voter ID”, Councillor Clare said that during trials conducted earlier this year 2,000 people were turned away and, of those, 750 did not return to vote.

Yet, she said, despite more than 44 million votes being cast, only one person was convicted for electoral fraud.

Labour council leader Nancy Platts said that her party was happy to support the measure – even though it was not her party’s policy – because a majority of members supported the idea.

She said: “Voter ID is a pernicious policy that has been reiterated in today’s deeply depressing Queen’s speech.

“The government has already trialed a dangerous policy to ban thouse without the right ID from voting in elections. Out of 45 million votes there were just 28 allegations of impersonation.”

Conservative councillor Alistair McNair said that the party list method of proportional representation was commonly used in other countries. It meant larger constituencies where voters elected a group of MPs rather than a single person.

To laughter, Councillor McNair said: “Plenty of countries have PR. That doesn’t make it right.

“Every European country celebrates Eurovision. That doesn’t make it right.”

“Belgium has had no government. Germany has the same government. Italy has a different government every six months.

“I’m being flippant but these governments are formed through back-room deals over months by party leaders, not by the electorate.”

And Green councillor Leo Littman said, also to laughter, that those who complained about proportional representation should know that in other countries they were not referred to as a hung parliament – but just as a parliament.

Labour and Green councillors voted in favour of a report to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee.

The report is expected to set out the implications of voter ID on residents and the impact of the “first past the post” electoral system on local elections in Brighton and Hove and how this compares to the popular vote.

  1. Hoveman Reply

    Who exactly will be compiling this report and who will be paying for it????

    If the answer is the Greens and The Greens then it’s worthless propaganda…

    If the answer is City Council Officers and the Counil Tax Payers its an inappropriate use of public resources and funds….

    • Chris Reply

      ….and if the Council Officers don’t feel able to do it (looks a fairly simple case of adding up that a councillor should be able to do),will they employ some overpriced consultant to tell them what they already knew? To what end is the report being compiled, “first past the post” is national policy?

      Seems like a time and money waster when so much else needs sorting in Brighton and Hove.

  2. Peter Challis Reply

    What has the voting scheme for the British Parliament got to do with the city council? Perhaps start with changing the council elections.

    And why is the Green Party worried about stopping election fraud? Answers on a proxy voting form please.

    Perhaps the Greens, Labour, and the Libdems should merge to form a single opposition party (they’d have won on the 12th) and then change the electoral system.

    But, then, you don’t kick away the ladder…

    Perhaps Phelim should accept that life isn’t “fair” and he needs to work within the rules.

    I think it’s wrong the parties do deals on who stands at constituencies, and allegedly that Greens agreed to support a Labour led council on unpublished terms.

  3. Rolivan Reply

    It didn’t take 800,000 to elect one Green M.P. It took one vote more than the amount of votes Caroline Lucas nearest opponent received.If you divide how many seats there were to how many votes the Greens got that gives you a true reflection of where they stand which is at the bottom of the pile.

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