The Progressive Group on Exeter City Council, made up of two Lib Dems, a Green and an Independent, asked it to support moving to a system of proportional representation (PR) for electing councillors in future, but the Labour majority as well as the Tories rejected this.
While it may be understandable for Labour not to want to abandon a system which gives them sole control of Exeter, from a broader point of view this is a big mistake. Nationally, Johnson is running his cruel and incompetent ‘elective dictatorship’ because 43 per cent of the vote gave him a thumping majority of 80 seats. On the County Council, which makes major decisions for Exeter, the Tories have 70 per cent of the seats but won with only 45 per cent of the votes in 2017.
As Keir Starmer has said, ‘We’ve got to address the fact that millions of votes don’t count.’ In most general and local elections, that includes the majority of people in Devon! Voters in Seaton and Colyton have NEVER been represented by a non-Conservative MP. During the general election, I met a 90-year-old woman who was supporting Claire Wright whose vote had never once counted!
PR changes this, making all votes count, either by electing members in multi-member constituencies – like they do in Ireland and in Scottish local elections – or by continuing with single-member constituencies but adding additional members to represent parties which are under-represented in constituency results – like they do in New Zealand.
If Exeter Labour want to run the city alone – get a majority of votes! Otherwise, work with other progressives in a coalition, like Independents, EDA, Lib Dems and Greens do in East Devon. But don’t block national reform to cling on to an ill-gotten advantage in one city!