Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: Islington Council election result proves we need a fairer voting system

PUBLISHED: 12:10 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:18 10 May 2018

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell at last week's election count. Picture: Ken Mears

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell at last week's election count. Picture: Ken Mears


Spot the difference!

Forty-seven Labour councillors and one Green will file into the chamber on May 24, almost as though the election didn’t happen.

I imagine that’s how Cllr Caroline Russell feels, anyway.

Despite her increased majority and the fact the Greens actually got more votes than Labour in Highbury East, she faces another four years as the sole opposition in the chamber.

But for a few dozen more ballot papers, she might have had a colleague in Benali Hamdache, but there are no shades of grey (or green) in first past the post: you’re in or out.

It’s not that I resent Labour’s success in Islington: having got to know a number of councillors since I started in 2016 I believe the borough is in good hands.

It’s more that the result seems to vindicate the unshakeable tradition of people not voting in local elections: there’s no point going to the polling station, goes the (circular) argument, because the result will be the same regardless.

So what on earth can be done to convince people local elections really are a big deal?

Problem is, I don’t think the solution is to tell people over and over again that they have to vote when we get results like this: I think they need to actually see the difference they’ve made by voting.

And for nearly half the people who actually did so, first past the post hasn’t delivered that.

Muhammed Kalaam (Labour) and Julie Horten (Lib Dem) probably felt the same as Benali does now when they lost out in Highbury East to Cllr Russell by just eight and 10 votes respectively in 2014.

Proportional representation in 2014 would have delivered nine Green councillors and seven Lib Dems in Islington – 15 more people in opposition than we actually got.

Perhaps the local government secretary, just days into his new job, has his work cut out. Our voting system isn’t fit for purpose.

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