STV, Provosts, and Mayors

On 4 May, we could have people being in key positions in our main cities as a result of behind-the-scenes bargaining and exchange between parties – that’s a worry:

Here in Scotland, if you asked your average punter who the leading lights were in any of the parties standing in Edinburgh or Glasgow, they’d be struggling. Voters are being asked to choose the parties they want to lead their local councils; we are not to be trusted with actually electing the people to lead our cities. That is a matter to be carved up behind closed doors, either as a choice from that group’s members, or possibly as a result of negotiations to form a coalition administration. On 4 May, we could have people being in key positions in our main cities as a result of horse-trading – people few will have heard of, have had the chance to scrutinise, or would have chosen if they had been given a direct vote.

In Edinburgh, the civic head is the Lord Provost (convenor of the council, also Lord-Lieutenant of Edinburgh and Admiral of the Firth of Forth). In the City Chambers you can see lists of names in gold paint of men (and two women) who have held that office since the 13th century. None were directly elected by the people of Edinburgh.

Click here for an online vote at Kate Higgins’s BurdzEyeView: Should Scotland have elected mayors?

Now about the Single Transferable Vote.

There is understandable confusion about the mathematical mechanics of this new voting system. It is intended to allow voters to give their preferences on as many candidates as they wish. A matter of consideration and choice for voters – also a judgement on past performance. If their first preference last time round has had a little calamity or two, then the system allows that candidate to become a 2nd or 3rd choice rather than no choice at all.

Apparently the parties are nervous enough of their track record to be demanding that their party members only vote for the party candidate and forsake giving any other candidate a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th choice. Oh, the playground nature of party politics! This election is about representing the people of Edinburgh, not party points scoring – I don’t forget that.

As the excellent Liberal Sellout blog advises:

We also already know there will be no majority administration. So why, therefore should you slavishly vote for a donkey with the ‘correct’ rosette? You the voter have been shorn of that duty to take the dullard in order to deliver a party majority for the ‘greater good’. So please don’t do it.

And with the Single Transferable Vote it is possible to be particularly sophisticated with that vote.

But one word of warning. Make sure that this candidate really does back your cause, this is a heart felt commitment, not a platitude on the back of a leaflet. Ask yourself this: will they commit to this policy beyond May 3rd, when it really matters?

I welcome your questions. My professional focus has been on the statutory repairs scandal for some time now – but I’m no one-trick pony.

Posted in Elections 2012. Tags: , . Comments Off on STV, Provosts, and Mayors