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Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

Conservative Government Hypocrisy Over Mayoral Elections

September 17, 2021 10:28 PM

by Denis Mollison, Chair, LDER

Since they started 20 years ago, all elections for Mayors and Police Commissioners have used the Supplementary Vote, which includes a runoff round between the top two contenders. It's not the best system, but it does ensure that the winner has to have a real majority.

This week the Conservative Government has slipped an extra section into their deplorable Elections Bill, aimed at changing all such elections to FPTP. The Telegraph had the brazen dishonesty to describe this as an improvement - `not letting losers win'.

The Conservatives need to be reminded how they elect their own leaders.

Conservative leaders have only been chosen by election since 1965 - before then they simply `emerged' from behind-the-scenes manoeuvring. Details of their election system have varied over time, but all have adhered to the simple principle that the final choice must be from a shortlist of two, so that the winner is seen to have a proper majority, i.e. over 50%, in the final round.

On several occasions results would have been different if FPTP had been used, most clearly in 1997, when Ken Clarke would have won under FPTP, only being overtaken by William Hague once the field had been reduced to two.

Since 2001, the final round has been through a vote of all members, with the field whittled down to 2 candidates by the MPs. In their most recent election in 2019, there were initially 10 candidates: if they believe in FPTP, why didn't the party offer a choice among all these candidates to their members?

Note: for details of past Conservative leadership elections, see https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN01366/SN01366.pdf
(or Wikipedia).