Saturday, June 22, 2024


Proportional Representation has come back to the political agenda as Health Secretary (and possible future PM) Alan Johnson has mooted the idea of a new voting system as part of a new drive for a more transparent parliament in light of the Expenses fiasco.

PR may well work for many or indeed 97% of the 646 constituencies in the United Kingdom. In whatever shape PR comes in (there are a few..STV, AM, AV) many of its fans see it as a fairer form of democracy.

For many the Scottish experience since 1999 has been a positive PR experience as they use the Additional Member System of PR.

Schoolteacher Maria Anderson said: “I have and always will vote Conservative but as a Geographer,I have concerns about the ecology. So i was able to give my second vote to the Green Party.”

Economist Grant Campbell said: “My first vote would be for SNP but there are may Independent candidates, fighting for individual causes (Margo MacDonald) who get my second vote.

This system is all very well until you come down to the borough of Thurrock.

Look at the 2008 Council Elections

Conservatives gained 13,714 votes, Labour 10,644 and the BNP 7,155. Using a crude PR system alone and they would gain just under 25% of the seats, meaning at least 12 of the 49 seats but it doesn’t end there.

The concern about Thurrock is that given a list of candidates many people may put Conservative first and BNP second and likewise Labour first and BNP second. Not for them the cuddly Greens, caring Lib-Dems or single issue candidates.

What you see in Tilbury with Labour’s Lyn Worrall in one ward and across the road, BNP’s Emma Colgate in another could be replicated across the borough.

The BNP now have an in on Thurrock Council. For years the odd BNP Councillor would be exposed as out of their depth. Now that Emma Colgate has come along it appears that many of the Thurrock Councillors are way way over their heads on this one.

The events of March 2009 when Tory Leader Terry Hipsey crossed the floor was the crucial moment. Ms Colgate’s vote was vital.

After that, suddenly, BNP meetings were relocated away from secret assignations in car parks and halls to the Thameside Theatre. Ms Colgate now sits on the essential General Services Committee.

This reporters Maths may be a bit ropey but you can see where this is heading. This is not an overnight revolution but a creeping one.

To the 48 other Thurrock Councillors, go google Pastor Niemoller.

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