The arrival of four-party politics in England, and the distorting effects of the ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system, are woefully exemplified in West Sussex.
The Conservatives gained just 38 per cent of the votes cast, but obtained 65 per cent of the seats (46); UKIP gained 30 per cent of the vote and 14 per cent of the seats (ten); Liberal Democrats got 14 per cent and 11 per cent of the seats (eight), and Labour 14 per cent with eight per cent of the seats (six).
It is this distortion that gives local government such a bad name, and why turnout is now so low.
So the Tories at County Hall will claim they have a ‘large majority’ and a ‘mandate’ to take decisions all by themselves.
It is quite clear that is not what the electorate of West Sussex voted for, and makes the necessity of introducing proportional voting at local elections in England all the more urgent.
All the other parts of the United Kingdom have PR for local elections, and it is high time England caught up with the times and properly represented the wishes of voters.
Dr JAMES WALSH
(LDem) West Sussex county councillor for Littlehampton East, County Hall, Chichester