A letter in today’s edition of the Local Government First magazine, by a Cllr Cookson (Labour), advises all readers to prepare for Labour’s plans to impose proportional representation on to local government, once they are in power.
I believe that all non-Labour councillors should take this advice, but not for the reasons promoted in the Labour Party document.
An online search reveals that the Electoral Reform Society (not to be confused with the Electoral Commission) has decided to promote Labour’s viewpoint, by publicising the document on its website, suggesting that it might almost be viewed as more about the democratic process than actual politics. Despite being in existence for over 100 years, the ERS has made little headway in their ambitions for proportional representation. As such, it should come as no surprise to see them promote a political document supporting its introduction, all be it at the local government level initially.
It’s not actually my goal to argue for, or against the issue as such, but rather to advise all non-Labour councillors to take a look at this document, so that they can be on their guard should councillor Cookson’s Party ever return to power. Far from being a springboard to greater and more even local democratic representation for the electorate, it would appear that the main purpose for seeking any change, is to increase the numbers of Labour Party foot soldiers embedded in local government.
The document unashamedly states, ‘…..the effects of introducing a more proportional system for local elections are more likely to unite the party…….’. Admittedly, in its forward, the document does suggest that all parties (hence the lowercase reference to ‘the party’ I assume) could benefit in some way from such a change, but it is difficult not to see a far less magnanimous reasoning behind this proposal.
On the face of it, this looks like it could be a win, win situation for us all, especially the electorate. However, my question is a simple one, if it’s that good and the document works hard to suggest that it is, why use local government as your guinea pigs? Put another way, why not do unto yourselves first, as you would do to others? I also have a concern about the norm for local government becoming ‘no overall control’, if this were to happen. So be warned fellow non-Labour councillors; they appear to have a cunning plan.