The letter from Richard Bates (One Party Council, June 18 2015) identifies several of the problems arising from the unopposed control the Conservative party now holds over the MSDC, and calls for a fairer voting system.
May I draw your readers’ attention to the facts: all 54 councillors elected in Mid Sussex are now Conservatives. The total votes cast for the Conservatives was 58.3% with 12.5% to Labour, 11.8% to Liberal Democrats, 8.5% to the Greens, 7.35% to UKIP and 1.5% to Independent candidates. Under a proportional system of election such as the Single Transferable Vote (STV) (which is closest to proportionality) these votes would have led to the election of 34 Conservatives, 6 Labour, 6 Lib Dem, 4 Green, 3 UKIP and 1 Independent councillors. The Conservatives would still be in power with 34 councillors, but with 24 in opposition .
Under the present system (First Past the Post, FPTP) 42% of the votes cast on May 7th elected not a single candidate to form any opposition to or provide any scrutiny over the Tory council. This is a travesty of democracy.
The only change necessary to elect councillors fairly (for example in a three seat ward) would be for the voter to place 1, 2 and 3 on the ballot paper instead of three crosses. The actual count by STV is then easier than the existing system in multimember wards.A compelling case for a fairer electoral system has been in evidence for many decades, but has been successfully kicked into the long grass by the vested interests of the two main political parties. The recent resurgence of minority parties has highlighted the need for reform, and the current situation in Mid-Sussex demonstrates that this need is even greater for local than for national elections.
Hickmans Lane, Lindfield
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