New analysis from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has revealed the “parlous state” of local democracy in England and Wales.
The analysis shows almost 20 million people are now living in the local government equivalent of ‘One Party States’ – with single parties holding “undeserved” supermajorities, and other parties “incapable of providing viable opposition”.
According to the research, 104 local authorities in England and Wales now have a single party holding in excess of 75% of council seats.
“Any decent democracy requires a viable opposition. But in the One Party States of England and Wales nearly 20 million people don’t enjoy that luxury. These authorities enjoy power without real accountability – and council tax payers deserve better,” said Darren Hughes, ERS’s director of campaigns and research.
“We can’t rely on governing parties to keep themselves in check. Our councils need a critical mass of opposition for basic scrutiny to work – and it’s what the public keep voting for. But our broken voting system is handing out fake supermajorities to parties out of all proportion to their real support.”
The ERS has called for England and Wales to follow the lead of Scotland, and abandon the First Past the Post voting system.
The analysis shows that 19,921,901 people live in local ‘One Party States’ which breaks down into:
- 68 Conservative ‘One Party States’ – total population 12,060,925
- 3 Liberal Democrat ‘One Party States’ – total population 371,515
- 33 Labour ‘One Party States’ – total population 7,488,651
Darren Hughes added: “The coming elections will barely make a dent on these One Party States, and it’s why they breed complacency. When councillors in Slough and Tunbridge Wells voted themselves pay increases they knew they were untouchable.
“Quite simply no councillor and no council should be beyond the reach of voters.”