In Braintree, the Conservatives gain over half the seats (53%) despite securing just 37% of the votes cast.
In Cotswold, while the Liberal Democrats’ 47% vote share secured them almost two-thirds (65%) of the seats, the Conservative’s 43% of vote left them with just over a quarter (27%).
In Bassetlaw Labour gained 79% of the seats with just 48% of the vote.
Nobody can look at these examples and think our system is working. It’s failing voters and it’s failing communities. From Braintree to Bassetlaw, election after election we see thousands of voters ignored by First Past the Post.
(For councils with wards that elect more than one councillor, we have calculated vote shares by using the number of votes for each party’s best-placed candidate in each ward. This is the approach taken by local election experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, directors of the Elections Centre, a major resource for local election data in the UK)
Votes wasted, voters ignored
Under First Past the Post, all votes not cast for the one (or multiple) winners in each ward go to waste. Spread across a whole council area, parties can often secure a substantial number of votes and still be left with zero representation.
No party should be able to sweep the board on a minority of the vote. But again and again, we see parties handed numbers of seats entirely out of proportion with their number of votes, leaving many voters feeling their voice has been ignored.
We are calling for a shift to proportional representation for English councils and to end the use of First Past the Post in local government.
A tried and tested alternative
There’s a clear alternative, and it works. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland use a fairer voting system, the Single Transferable Vote (STV), which avoids random results like these. STV is a form of proportional representation, that can breathe new life and energy into our local democracy.
Since STV was introduced in Scotland in 2007, one-party fiefdoms have become a thing of the past. In 2020, Wales passed legislation allowing councils to introduce the fair and proportional Single Transferable Vote system.
With STV, voters would live in wards with one or more councillors, just like now. Except, rather than the norm being that one party can dominate all the councillors, you get a group of councillors that reflect the diversity of local opinion.
It’s to scrap first past the post and finally fairly represent us all in local government.
Add your name to our call for fair local elections in England