I read with interest the letter from Jess Blair (25 November) in relation to the debate within Powys County Council to utilise its new powers for the introduction of the ‘Single Transferable Vote’ (STV) electoral system for elections to our local authority. 

As was explained, STV has been used for elections to all local authorities in Scotland with great success, and has been used for local elections in Northern Ireland for decades (a quirky historical fact is that it was used between 1921 and 1929 for elections to the then-new ‘Parliament of Northern Ireland’, and was used until 1971 for the election of Northern Ireland’s Senate.) 

Thus, STV can hardly be seen to be incompatible with British political tradition.

The strangest aspect of this row is that this is a problem which would be unnecessary, had the Labour-dominated Welsh Government in Cardiff legislated to introduce STV at one stroke for all local authority elections in Wales (as the Scots did). 


Giving the choice to councils themselves seems to me to be asking for trouble, as it delegates the debate to self-interested parties, who are hardly likely to be favourable to change. 

Although I understand Labour wished to protect its dominance of many local authorities in South Wales, it was an odd decision to end up with a situation where some areas of the country may use STV, and others use the ‘First Past The Post method’.

First Past The Post dates from the Georgian and Victorian eras when many seats were chosen by small electorates and usually with preference given for selection to local aristocratic families. 

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Most seats were either not subject to contestation or there were only two candidates – generally with no, or only a loose, affiliation to a political party. 

We also often forget that Britain has still not had full voter suffrage for even one hundred years (1928)! The universal franchise is a relatively recent innovation; as is the dominance of two political parties. 

Thus, First Past The Post worked under older conditions when hardly anyone could vote and, when they could, this was only for usually one of just two candidates.

It does not work fairly when everyone can vote and there are a range of political parties, representative of the modern conditions of competition we are told must be applied (by Labour and the Conservatives) to every other walk of life, such as buying rail tickets or choosing an energy provider.

STV is a big part of the solution to improving the performance of local authorities and especially the calibre of the people elected to them.

It must be introduced as the sole electoral system for local elections for all Welsh local authorities and the Reform Party for one will continue to demand this.
Oliver Lewis
Reform UK Prospective Parliamentary Candidate