Blackpool Council's ruling Labour group actually won LESS votes than the Tories

Electoral reformers today claimed the 'wrong' party is in control of Blackpool because while Labour won more seats at May's local elections, the rival Tories won more votes across the town as a whole.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 12:39 pm
Blackpool Town Hall

Political pressure group the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) says outcomes like this support its call for the traditional first-past-the-post voting system to be scrapped and replaced by proportional representation.

Following elections on May 2, Labour retained town hall control by winning 23 seats, while the Conservatives won 15 and four seats went to independent councillors.

But the Conservatives received around 200 more votes across the whole borough.

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Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said Labour had won under the system which had always been used for elections.

He said: "The system of voting in the UK has been in existence since the birth of democracy.

"The ERS’s methodology (ignoring ward boundaries and pretending Blackpool was one electoral ward, rather than 21) is to assume we operate a system of pure proportional representation, which is an electoral system a million miles apart from the one Great Britain has always used.

"In doing this, they are banging their own drum for their own slightly odd notions of how our voting system ought to change.

Coun Simon Blackburn

"The results of May’s elections were very clear, however.

"The Conservative Party in Blackpool made a fundamental and very basic error in the way in which they campaigned. I’m not going to say what it was, as I still don’t think they’ve worked it out.”

But Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams hit back, saying the system seemed 'unfair'.

He added: "We received the popular vote from the majority of Blackpool residents.

Coun Tony Williams

"Unfortunately our voting system relies on actual seats rather than collective votes.

"Some Labour councillors scraped through with less than 100 vote difference including the leader himself who won with just 89 votes more than an independent candidate.

"The bottom line is most of the residents of Blackpool would like to see a change in the party which runs the council and the town’s Conservative group would appear to be their most popular choice."

The ERS says its research shows Blackpool was among 17 English councils where the party with the largest number of votes did not secure the most seats.

Jess Garland, ERS director of policy and research, said: "England continues to rely on this disproportionate system for local elections, where only the votes for the top candidate to ‘get over the line’ secure representation - all others are ignored.

“It’s time we ended the broken first-past-the-post system in England - a system that continues to warp our politics. A more proportional system would make sure all voters’ voices are heard.”

According to the figures from ERS, Labour and the Conservatives both secured 44 per cent of the vote in Blackpool but Labour has 55 per cent of seats compared to 36 per cent for the Conservatives.