Local Elections in Britain

By Colin Rallings; Michael Thrasher | Go to book overview

12

Local elections and representation

INTRODUCTION

When Michael Heseltine, as Secretary of State for the Environment, set out the terms of reference of the Local Government Commission for England there was no mention of electoral reform. The Commission was charged with making local government more accountable but it was not allowed to consider the part played by the electoral system itself in frustrating accountability. This is not altogether surprising, of course, since the Conservative party at the time was a prime beneficiary of Britain’s use of ‘first past the post’. In the 1992 general election, for example, the party won 54 per cent of the seats with 43 per cent of the vote. A month later Conservative candidates polled 45 per cent in the shire district elections and received 51 per cent of seats. Looked at through Conservative eyes the electoral system was not broken so there appeared to be no need to fix it. Neither was the Labour party about to shout from the rooftops about the perverse way in which local votes were translated into council representation. In those same 1992 local elections Labour won 54 per cent of seats in the metropolitan boroughs with just 39 per cent of the vote. As we noted in an earlier chapter the Liberal Democrats, although campaigning for reform of the electoral system, have learnt to work within its constraints. By targeting winnable seats and leaving the remainder either uncontested or with little more than ‘paper’ candidates, the party has steadily reduced the disadvantage usually suffered by third parties under our electoral system.

None of this, of course, removes the inequities which do exist and which arguably should have been part of the brief given to the Local Government Commission. An important aim in this chapter is to highlight the extent of the bias produced by the ‘first past the post’ system. In the first section, therefore, we will produce some of the more glaring examples of the inequality between votes and seats. Lest we be accused of exaggerating this bias we provide, in the second section, a broader analysis which looks in detail at an entire category of local authority, the county councils, responsible for the bulk of expenditure in the shires. In a third section some other electoral systems will be considered in terms of their applicability to British local government.

-190-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Local Elections in Britain
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 232

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.