Call to change election system in Exeter

19 October 2020

Exeter councillors will be asked to back a new voting system for local elections at the Full Council meeting this Tuesday. The Progressive Group, consisting of a Green councillor, an Independent and two Liberal Democrat councillors, will put forward a motion [1] calling for a system of Proportional Representation (PR) to replace First Past the Post (FPTP).

The group say that a forthcoming government white paper on devolution provides an opportunity to change local elections to a fairer system where seats match votes. They point to the use of systems of PR in many different election in the UK, including elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh National Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly, London Assembly, elected mayors and local elections in Scotland & Northern Ireland.

Diana Moore, Green councillor for St David’s ward will propose the motion. She said:

“I will urge all members to support reform of our electoral system for local elections so that all votes matter and all votes count. This will send a clear message to the government that any plans to reorganise local government must include the introduction of a fairer voting system.”

“For example, in the last Exeter City Council elections held in 2019, Labour won nine of the 14 seats on just over a third of the vote, while councillors in the Progressive Group won three seats on just under a third of the vote. Clearly, the make up of the Council does not reflect the way people in Exeter vote.”

Jemima Moore, an independent councillor in Newtown, urged Labour councillors to back the motion. She said:

“Electoral reform has strong backing amongst Labour members and voters. Polling shows at least three quarters of Labour voters want the party to commit to PR, with just five per cent opposed. Yet clearly, as the largest group in Exeter, the backing of Labour councillors is vital if the motion is to gain enough support.”

Kevin Mitchel, leader of the Progressive group and a Liberal Democrat councillor in St James and Duryard ward, concluded:

“Proportional Representation has been shown to result in higher turnout in elections, lower income inequality, higher social expenditure, more effective action on climate change, and improved satisfaction with governance. This is not only a matter of making elections fairer; it’s about creating a more just society.”

ENDS

Notes

[1] See Page 2, Notice of Motion by Councillor D. Moore: Making Votes Matter in Local Elections






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