Campaigners warn of vote-splitting as new analysis finds that the average number of ‘progressive candidates’ per seat outnumber right-wing candidates by almost two to one in Thursday’’s elections.
- Statement from Politics for the Many campaign
- For media enquiries and interviews, contact Jon Narcross [email protected] / 07794728820
The progressive vote will be systematically ‘split’ in this week’s council elections – with on average 1.9 candidates from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens running against just one right-wing candidate in England, new research has revealed.
Campaigners warn that this set of elections will yet again see the left and centre-left held back by the First Past the Post system – a system that has given the Conservatives an increasing advantage in recent elections.
The research from the Politics for the Many campaign, using data collated by Democracy Club, finds that England’s winner-takes-all voting system means voters on the left are in effect being punished for having a choice of parties to vote for, whereas voters on the right see their chances of success boosted by fewer candidates to choose from.
In 33.1% of wards, there is one unified ‘right’ party (the Conservatives) standing candidates against all three of the progressive ‘left’ parties (Labour/Lib Dem/Green).
There are a further 31.9% of wards where there is one ‘right’ party (the Conservatives in all but 4 wards, where the ‘right’ party is Reform UK) standing candidates against two of the largest ‘left’ parties (either Labour, the Lib Dems or the Greens).
It means many voters may have to ‘hold their nose’ and vote tactically, opting to support a party they view as a lesser evil, or risk seeing their vote ‘let in’ a right-wing party – a problem that voters on the right do not face this election.
Altogether, there are 3,345 wards (69.0% of all wards), where there are more ‘left’ parties standing candidates than ‘right’ parties (excludes 102 wards where no ‘right’ parties are standing).
The stark figures reveal that out of almost 5000 wards where elections will take place, there are only 76 wards in the whole of England (1.6% of wards) where there are more right parties standing than left parties (excludes 128 wards where no ‘left’ parties are standing).
There is just one ward where all three ‘right’ parties are standing candidates.
Pressure on Labour to back electoral reform is growing – at the party’s 2022 Conference delegates overwhelmingly backed a motion calling on the party to support PR in the next manifesto  and just last week USDAW became the latest affiliated union to come out in support of reform meaning that 2/3 of Labour affiliated trade unions now back reform .
With a proportional voting system like Single Transferable Vote (STV) – used for Scotland and Northern Ireland’s local elections – voters can rank candidates from different parties by preference, almost entirely eliminating the issue of votes being ‘split’. Voters can always vote for who they believe in and express a range of choices.
Nancy Platts, coordinator of the Politics for the Many campaign, said:
“We’ve seen all too many times how our voting system serves as a barrier to progressive change, amplifying the votes of some while casting others on the scrap heap. The result – a winner-takes-all system that gifts unearned majorities to the government of the day. Governments that are all too often Conservative.
“Our two-party system doesn’t reflect the reality of modern politics. It splits the vote of progressive voters forcing many to vote tactically, often supporting the ‘least worst’ candidate in order to try and game the broken system. In these local council elections the odds are once again stacked against progressives and the results will likely reflect that in seats up and down the country.
“A Labour government must get serious about electoral reform to overcome the structural advantage our electoral system gives the Conservatives – only then can progressive views be given a fair chance at the ballot box.”
- Across all 4849 wards, there is an average of 1.9 ‘left’ candidates standing per seat available, versus 1.0 ‘right’ candidate.
- In 33.1% (1603) of wards there is one ‘right’ party (the Conservatives) standing candidates against all three of the ‘left’ parties (Labour/Liberal Democrat/Green).
- There are a further 31.9% (1548) of all wards, where there is one ‘right’ party (the Conservatives in all but 4 wards, where the ‘right’ party is Reform UK) standing against two of the ‘left’ parties (either Labour, the Lib Dems or the Greens).
- There are a further 4.0% (194) of all wards where there are two ‘right’ parties standing candidates against all three of the ‘left’ parties.
- This means that in 69.0% (3345) of all wards there are more ‘left’ parties standing than ‘right’ parties (excludes the 102 wards where there are zero ‘right’ parties standing).
- There is just one ward where all 3 ‘right’ parties are standing candidates.
- There are only 76 wards (1.6% of all wards) where there are more ‘right’ parties standing than ‘left parties’ (excludes the 128 wards where there are zero ‘left’ parties standing).
- There are 1197 wards (24.7% of all wards) where the number of ‘left’ and ‘right’ parties standing candidates is the same and a further 230 wards (4.7% of all wards) where either zero ‘left’ or zero ‘right’ parties are standing.
Notes to Editors
Politics for the Many is the trade union campaign for political reform, campaigning for proportional representation and a democratic overhaul of Westminster. https://politicsforthemany.co.uk/
Politics for the Many analysis of Democracy Club data. Our thanks to Democracy Club: democracyclub.org.uk
There are other parties standing candidates who could potentially be classified on the ‘left/right’ spectrum (e.g. TUSC/Freedom Alliance), but the researchers have focused on the three most established parties on either ‘side’.
The Liberal Democrats are generally described as ‘centre-left’, and are seen as a potential partner in a Progressive Alliance.
Researchers analysed data of all English local election candidates for elections taking place on 4 May (metropolitan boroughs; district councils; unitary authorities, plus any local authority by-elections) from Democracy Club’s database.
They then took the three ‘right/centre-right’ parties (Conservative; Reform UK; UKIP) and the three ‘left/centre-left’ parties (Labour; Liberal Democrat; Green) and went through each ward, identifying how many candidates each of these six parties are standing.