England’s Local Democracy

Voters in England are being let down by their local democracy.

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In England and Wales the electoral system means we often get councils that do not represent what people voted for, and sometimes we don’t get to vote at all.

Find out about the campaign in Wales

One Party States

Many councils in England have a single party holding in excess of 75% of the council seats. In every case, this is wholly out of proportion to the support the governing parties enjoy locally – and has given these administrations carte blanche on official business. Weak electoral accountability has an impact on public procurement, as, without critical oversight, costs can spiral out of control.

Following 2022’s local council elections two London boroughs, Barking and Dagenham and Lewisham are now 100% Labour councils with no opposition whatsoever, even though substantial numbers voted for other parties.

What’s the Solution?

We are calling for a fairer local electoral system that more accurately reflects people’s wishes.

Scotland has been enjoying a fairer voting system since 2007. Voter choice has more than doubled, uncontested seats have become a thing of the past, and the rotten boroughs that once plagued Scotland were undone.

The big parties aspire to represent the whole nation, yet in practice, they are restricted to their fortresses and locked out of whole swathes of the country.

Introducing the Scottish system of elections into England would mean that people’s votes were more accurately represented, and there would no longer be any ‘no go’ areas for the big parties.

It's time that England caught up with Scotland and Northern Ireland

May's local elections showed our voting system to be utterly broken. Next year, yet more councillors are going to be elected on tiny majorities, or simply returned unopposed. But while pressure is mounting on the party leaders, it's not yet enough to make them act. Northern Ireland has had proportional representation for local councils since 1973, Scotland joined them in 2007, now it's time England caught up.

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More information about England’s Local Democracy


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Date published
Submission for

By us and for us: How local democracy can...

ERS Scotland
Date published
Submission for

London’s Local Elections: Lessons from Scotland

Local Democracy