Statement from Politics for the Many, 19th April, 2019:

Conservative candidates are set to walk away with 267 seats before voters get to the polls in May due to uncontested ‘elections’ according to new analysis by the Electoral Reform Society.

The research published found this figure compares to just 17 guaranteed seats for Labour, the Lib Dems 11 and independent candidates five meaning the Conservatives are set to gain a massive 88% of the guaranteed seats. 

The worst offender is Fenland District Council in Cambridgeshire where the Tories will take 15 of the 39 seats up for election before a single ballot is cast, all but guaranteeing them control of the council come polling day.

The spate of uncontested seats compares to Scotland, where use of a proportional voting system for locals means uncontested seats are now virtually a thing of the past.

Commenting on the research Stephen Kinnock MP said:

“This research shows the current FPTP system leaves so many in our country effectively voiceless. Hundreds of council seats go uncontested and many Parliamentary seats never change hands. 

“It also discourages parties from fielding candidates in every electoral ward, further disenfranchising voters.

“My party, and indeed politicians of all stripes, must now work with organisations like ERS and Make Votes Matter to champion proportional representation – replacing our archaic system with a democratic system fit for the 21st century, where every vote counts.”

Nancy Platts, Jeremy Corbyn’s former union adviser and coordinator of Politics for the Many – the left-wing campaign for political reform said:

“Our broken voting system continues to put power in the hands of the few. The scourge of uncontested seats is leaving hundreds of thousands without even the basic right of a say in who represents them.

“Instead we see hundreds of councillors – nearly all Conservatives – measuring the curtains in town halls across the country before polling day has even begun. A sign of just how dysfunctional our electoral system has become.

“Now is the time for Labour to back change – we need to move towards a fairer, proportional system for elections across the UK putting an end to this broken first-past-the-post system and create a politics which puts the power in the hands of the many – where every vote counts.

“It’s worked in Scotland yet here in England we remain locked in to a one-party-takes all mentality where votes are wasted and, as we can see, safe seats lead to uncontested which makes a mockery of our democratic system.”

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, in a piece this month, wrote:

“The UK electoral system’s ability to put power in the hands of so few, of course raises questions about democratic deficits and just how fair our electoral system actually is. The current first-past-the-post system has failed and the strongest arguments against using proportional representation (PR) – that it produces weak or unstable governments – is just no longer true.

“We can do things better, look at the Single Transferable Vote, one version of PR that has been used for local government elections in Scotland since 2007.” 

John McDonnell is a prominent supporter of PR, alongside union movement figures like Mark Serwotka and Billy Hayes. 

Read the ERS’ ‘Election Cancelled’ briefing on uncontested seats.

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