Hitchin: Liberal Democrat Sam Collins on tactical voting and proportional representation

  Posted: 30.04.21 at 17:57 by LAYTH YOUSIF @HitchinNubNews

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So, read for for the Lib Dems Sam Collins as he shares his views on tactical voting and proportional representation.

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Labour can’t win here. It says that on a lot of Lib Dem election leaflets going out in parts of Hitchin at the moment, and the fact is, depending on where you live it is true.

In other areas of the town other parties will face a real challenge to beat the incumbents.

I was standing on a resident’s doorstep recently and a couple answered the door, one of them was a staunch Lib Dem supporter, the other a staunch Labour supporter.

But in the ward where this conversation too place was Labour is a distant third, but the Lib Dems have a brilliant chance of getting the Conservative incumbent out.

I explained that the Labour supporter had a choice, they could vote Labour as they normally did, or they could vote Lib Dem and actually increase the chances of unseating the Tory.

This kind of tactical voting has been increasing for years, most notably at General Elections but increasingly at local elections too. I really don’t like it.

The electoral system we have is badly flawed, this is particularly clear when you look at the election results for Hitchin & Harpenden in December 2019.

More people voted against the Conservatives than for them, but the Tories won again as the anti-tory vote was split with two thirds going to the Lib Dem candidate (me) and the other third going to the Labour candidate.

There remains much frustration that the Labour Party opted not to join with the Lib Dems, Greens and others in an electoral arrangement, had they done so then it seems likely that not only would the Conservatives have lost Hitchin & Harpenden to the Lib Dems, but also that there would not be a majority Conservative government.

But such arrangements should not be necessary, a fairer voting system is badly needed so that people can vote for who they want to.

Because of the flawed voting system we have, the make up of North Herts District Council is not representative of the votes cast.

I took a look at the 2018 local election results, the year I was first elected, and the Conservatives got 40.21% of the vote and that resulted in them getting eight Councillors elected, although the share of the vote only really entitled them to seven Councillors (7.2 if you want be precise).

Labour got 31.42% of the vote and got seven Councillors elected, but they were only really entitled to five or six based on the votes cast (5.65 Councillors). The Lib Dems got 20.91% of the votes and got three Councillors, but based on the votes cast we should have got one more (3.76 Councillors).

The Green Party though is the worst served by this system, with 7.44% of the vote in 2018, they should have got a Councillor elected (1.33 to be exact) but got none. As the green vote is fairly evenly dispersed across the district it makes it extremely difficult for them to win.

If there was a fully proportional system in North Hertfordshire, the Green Party would probably have two or three Councillors, the Lib Dems would have a few more and Labour might have one or two fewer Councillors. The Conservatives though would be reduced notably as the current system seems to favour them.

I really like proportional representation, I’ve campaigned for it, I will continue to campaign for it, I’m a member of a party that has its introduction as a core policy, but I’m also aware that it is not perfect.

One of the advantages of local councillors is just that, they are local, in the community working for you. A fully proportional system could lose some of that local focus.

This is why I would like to see something called ‘Alternative Vote’ introduced in local elections, this would mean that you could vote for the party or candidate you liked best, but you would also be able to have a second or third choice if there is not enough support for your preferred candidate to get in.

This way you still get a councillor who is actually local still but more people’s voices are heard.

Ten years ago the Lib Dems got a national referendum on the introduction of this much fairer electoral system, but it was not well received nationally after the Conservatives campaigned against it and Labour was agnostic at best. It feels to me that this might be better received a decade on.

When the Conservative party were rather clumsily trying to change the system of local government in Hertfordshire last year the Lib Dems wrote an amendment to call for the introduction of a fairer voting system in our area in the event of any change to the local government structure.

After a bit of back and forth, Labour, our joint administration partners agreed we should include it in our response to the Tory plan.

It read as follows, “to ensure adequate representation of the electorate this council believes that with any changes to the current arrangements a more representative voting system should be introduced”

This passed and as such is now the policy of NHDC.

However with no change to the current system of local government there is still no opportunity to introduce a fairer system yet.

This means that unfortunately if you want to get a particular party, MP or Councillor out you will simply have to vote tactically.

I and others in my party (and I believe also in the Green Party) will continue to campaign for a fairer voting system so that this situation can finally be resolved.

But until then, there will be bar charts on leaflets (the Lib Dem ones are accurate in Hitchin!) and the words “Labour can’t win here” or phrases like it.

If you are interested in showing your support for a fairer voting system regardless of which party you support it is worth visiting - https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/

Sam Collins from the Lib Dems

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FULL LIST OF NORTH HERTS CANDIDATES

Thursday May 6 is polling day and the clock is ticking for you to decide which candidate or party you will vote for.

Taking part in the process of local democracy will ensure you make your voice heard by the people who are there to serve YOU.

Here is a full list of candidates in the Hertfordshire County Council elections in North Herts divisions. Listed alphabetically.

North Herts

Baldock and Letchworth East

Leo Chapman, Labour Party
Tim Lee, Green Party
Michael Muir, Conservative Party
Richard Winter, Liberal Democrat

Hitchin North

Judi Billing, Labour and Co-operative Party
John Bishop, Conservative Party
Sid Cordle, Christian Peoples Alliance
Andrew Ircha, Liberal Democrats
Mary Marshall, Green Party

Hitchin Rural

Daisy Appoh, Christian Peoples Alliance
David Barnard, Conservative Party
Anton Jungreuthmayer, Labour Party
Marilyn Parkin, Liberal Democrats
Anni Sander, Green Party

Hitchin South

Derrick Ashley, Conservative Party
Barbara Clare, Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
Paul Clark, Liberal Democrats
Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg, Labour and Co-operative Party
Sam Larsen, Green Party
Leigh Smith, Christian Peoples Alliance

Knebworth and Codicote

Doug Jenner, Labour Party
Katrina Nice, Green Party
Richard Thake, Conservative Party
Terry Tyler, Liberal Democrats

Letchworth North

Tina Bhartwas, Labour and Co-operative Party
Simon Bloxham, Conservative Party
Jerry Evans, Liberal Democrats

Letchworth South

Amy Allen, Labour and Co-operative Party
Alan Borgars, Green Party
Terry Hone, Conservative Party
Garry Warren, Reform UK
Phil Weeder, LIberal Democrats

Royston East and Ermine

Ruth Brown, Liberal Democrats
Fiona Hill, Conservative Party
Stephen Lockett, Labour Party
Steven Turner, Green Party

Royston West and Rural

George Davies, Conservative Party
Ken Garland, Labour and Co-operative Party
Steve Jarvis, Liberal Democrats

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