Making the case for STV in England – our local elections campaign

Lizzie Lawless, Membership and Digital Officer

Posted on the 6th May 2022

Over the last few months the ERS has been building interest in how STV can make the UK’s politics fairer by highlighting the success of the system where it is currently used in the country. In the run-up to the local election there has been a heightened interest in different forms of electoral system as the different nations went to the polls.

During this period, the ERS led the conversation with research from leading academics showing how the system was working in Scotland, as well as showing the absurdities FPTP is causing in other parts of the UK, particularly in London.

In London alone, 90% of multi-member wards are represented by just one party leaving hundreds of thousands of voters without a voice.

Here are highlights of the campaign leading up to the local elections:

Using a fair voting system – lessons from Scotland

Looking at the Scottish experience can give us great insight to how democracy can be done differently in England.

In Scotland, 2022 was the fourth set of local elections held using the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This wealth of experience can be used to show that there is a better way of doing democracy. STV has long been the ERS’s preferred system of proportional representation as it puts power in voters’ hands and allows them to make nuanced choices, not just between parties but often between candidates of the same party.

The Power of Preferences STV in Scottish Local Elections
Our latest report, ‘The Power of Preferences STV in Scottish Local Elections’

In our briefing, ‘London’s Local Elections: Lessons from Scotland’, we look at three examples from the 2018 London local elections, highlighting disproportional outcomes at ward and council level, and see how these contrast with what occurred in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, at the 2017 Scottish local elections.

Our campaign was also bolstered by analysis from Professor Sir John Curtice in his new report The Power of Preferences: STV in Scottish Local Elections. In his report, Professor Sir Curtice takes an in-depth look at the results from 2017 and how voters make use of the Single Transferable Vote system used for Scottish local elections.

We were also delighted to be joined by Sir John Curtice for a live event, in which he discussed his new report. This event was attended by hundreds of our members and supporters. If you missed the event, it is now available to watch back on demand.

Making the headlines

We also saw a huge amount of coverage on our analysis of the uncontested seats in Wales, highlighting how these are caused by First Past the Post, an example being from Nation Cymru. Our findings were also covered by the BBC, regional radio and regional papers.

Help us to continue to spread the word

Local elections in England are broken, and the current political system is totally failing to represent the public. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Britain deserves a democracy where votes aren’t thrown onto the electoral scrapheap – but where there is real choice and where our voices are always heard. 

It's time for fair votes in English local government, sign our petition

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