Unbalanced representation

WE ARE repeatedly assured that the United Kingdom is politically democratic.

WE ARE repeatedly assured that the United Kingdom is politically democratic. Democratic values and principles are continually lauded and praised. However if anyone has ever wondered just how democratic our country is and if it actually works they would have found Councillor Ap Rees' comments in last week's Mercury (Cut councillors and staff from council - says deputy leader) both revealing and disturbing.

According to Cllr Ap Rees: "When the system changed to an executive-led council I think it disenfranchised the majority of district councillors ... there is less opportunity for councillors to play a serious and meaningful role..."

To disenfranchise a councillor means, by extension, that the people they democratically represent are also disenfranchised. So, logically, not only the majority of councillors but also the majority of electors are disenfranchised by the executive-led system. It would appear that most of the council's business and decisions are handled by the seven councillors who form the executive, (The Magnificent Seven - perhaps).

Who should form the executive was not a decision taken directly by the electorate and those chosen received less than six per cent of the votes cast in the May 2007 election - one member polled less than 700 votes. Indeed, as far as I can discern, the Conservative party managed to get 75 per cent of the seats on the council with only 48 per cent of the vote; a curious state of affairs to say the least.

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The main reason for this unbalanced representation and Conservative hegemony in North Somerset is our flawed 'first-past-the-post' electoral system. Surely a move to proportional representation is long over-due?


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