Friday, 7 December 2007

Shepway South Ward - By-Election

Results from the by election in Shepway South Ward

Con: 251 (36%)
Lab: 240 (34%)
LD: 163 (23%)
Green: 34 (5%)

Not our best result, but we haven't stood a candidate there as long as I have lived in Maidstone.

There were mutterings from the LibDems behind me, that the Greens standing a candidate let the Tories win.

It is ironic that Labour promised us proportional representation in their 1997 election manifesto and then welched on the deal. Now they are being squeezed like this when the race is between more than two parties. The Lib Dems have been extremely quiet on PR, so how they can have the cheek to suggest that the Tory victory was the fault of the Greens, beggars belief. With proportional respresentation, Labour would have more that the three councillors that they currently have in Maidstone. On the other hand, if we had had the 'single transferable vote' system used in Shepway South, this would have given people the chance to vote with confidence for the party they really want to see win and to do so with the knowledge that their vote may get given to their second or third choice candidate instead.

To clarify this: The STV system would look at all the first preference votes cast and if one candidate got more than 50% of these they would be successful. In this case no candidate did, so the candidate with the lowest number of votes is knocked out and their votes redistributed in line with the voter's second preference. Lets us assume that all the Green votes got redistributed to Labour... Still no candidate would have more than 50% of the vote, so the LibDems would be knocked out and their votes given to the next preference. This would leave one of the two remaining candidate with a majority and therefore elected.

This system would drastically change the political landscape, as it allows people to have confidence that their vote will not be wasted (as 64% of votes in Shepway South were). STV should be combined with a system of proportionality as well so that all political flavours are represented.

In Shepway South, what was in fact clear was that the Tories put a massive amount of effort into winning the ward, their MP even turned up at the count. On the other hand Labour are being investigated by the police again for corruption and are in the news every day for their incompetency. The reason they lost seems pretty clear to me, and it has nothing to do with giving people their first opportunity to vote Green!

Thank you to the 5% who voted Green Party from me and from Steve Muggeridge.


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