The slogan of Sheffield City Council is “where everyone matters”, but when it comes to elections and the representation of the voters on the council: Does everyone matter? In this post I will be pointing out some of the flaws I believe there are in the way Councillors are elected.
Sheffield is one of the largest cities in the UK and is divided into 28 Wards, each of which elects 3 Councillors to fill the 84 Seats on the City Council. Elections happen in 4 year cycles with 1 election each year for 3 years and none in the 4th, except when there are by-elections being held. One seat in each ward comes up for election at a time with councillors being elected by the First Past The Post electoral system (also known as “plurality voting” or “winner takes all”). The last election in May 2011 resulted in the Labour Party replacing the Liberal Democrat/Green Party coalition as the ruling party on the council. The graph above illustrates the share of the vote at the last election in May 2011 and the number of council seats held (voting figures available online at the council website).
Please watch this excellent video by C G P Grey from his Politics in the Animal Kingdom series of explanatory videos about elections and politics. This gives a good summary of the main problems with FPTP and why we are campaigning for reform of our political system.
Have you heard about the plans to remove the legal obligation to register, with the Government saying quite explicitly that it should be voluntary? The MPs on the Select Committee which heard from experts a few days ago (including the Electoral Commission) about the likely consequences, were appalled. It is thought that up to 10m (yes 10m!) voters could fall off the register.
You can use the link below to ask your MP to sign the Early Day motoin that Unlock Democracy is supporting. We need thousands of people to do this.
Co-ordinator, Sheffield for Democracy
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) along with volunteers from Sheffield for Democracy ran a stall at last weekend’s Green Party Conference, held at Sheffield Hallam University. Visitors to the stall were invited to sign our petition to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister for a 100% elected House of Lords and also to attend our fringe meeting on Saturday afternoon: “Can the Greens sustain success without electoral change?”.
At the fringe meeting over 60 people joined us to hear Katie Ghose (Chief Executive, ERS), Caroline Lucas MP (Leader, Green Party), Jean Lambert MEP and local Sheffield for Democracy campaigner Arran Cottam talk about the priorities for reformers, including Lords Reform and educating young people about politics, and what impact change or lack of change might have on the Green Party. The audience was also invited to contribute to the discussion, offering their feedback and suggestions. During the meeting it was revealed that the ERS is to produce a practical handbook for electoral reform campaigners, “to bottle the experiences of the last year” as Katie Ghose put it, in order to help make any future campaigns more effective.
Free Membership of ERS
The Electoral Reform Society is currently offering 1 years FREE membership of the society, an offer which is not to be missed by anyone interested in improving the representation of the public in local and national government. Please visit the ERS website for further information.