Results

The election results for an Esher and Walton representative in the national parliament on Thursday, 7 May 2015 was as follows

Dominic Raab – Conservative Party 35,845
Francis Eldergill – Labour Party 7,229
Nicholas Wood – UKIP 5,551
Andrew Davis – Liberal Democrat Party 5,372
Oliver Palmer – Green Party 2,355
Matt Heenan – Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol 396
Della Reynolds – Independent 228

The total number of votes caste was 57,165 and the turnout 71.55%

A pie chart of the voters.

Voters

A pie chart of the electorate on the basis that those that do not vote give their consent to the winner..

Electorate

Borough elections

ballot-boxThe borough recently asked the burghers of Elmbridge whether they would like to vote every four years or once a year “by thirds”.  The result was 52% in favour of voting by thirds and 48% in favour of voting every four years.

In its meeting today, the full council voted 29 to 22 in  favour of voting by thirds.  In any case, to make a change to voting every four years it would have required a vote in favour of that proposition of 34 councillors.

The next debate will be on the number of councillors and then the ward boundaries themselves.

Do you have any thoughts about how many councillors Elmbridge should have?  Currently there are sixty.

Borough elections – big changes ahead

ballot-boxThe borough wants to know what you think.  There is a consultation that will last until Sunday, 2 November 2014.  Your comments are welcome  – give your views here.

History
Here is a little background.  Local government elections have been held for centuries – even before there was a parliament in Westminster. In the beginning only men with property could vote but even then there was a debate between those who wanted frequent elections – to keep those elected on their toes – and those who thought that the councillors should be elected for longer than a year in order that they could gain experience in the role.  Eventually a compromise was reached – have elections every year but elect councillors for four years.  This is known as election by thirds.

Recently
There has been a big debate in the borough’s council – how many councillors should there be.  Currently, there are sixty councillors who are intended to represent the approximately 100,000 electors in the borough (there are 132,000 residents).  This means that, on average, there are 1,666 electors for each councillor.

Originally, it had been agreed that although the number of councillors may change the frequency of elections should remain as they are now – by thirds.  In the old days the borough could have changed its representational arrangements and that would have been the end of it.  However, the borough may no longer determine the number of its own councillors – it has to ask the national government to make any changes (more’s the pity).  Therefore the borough sought the intervention of the Boundary Commission to change the number of our councillors – if necessary.

Be careful what you wish for
For the record I voted against asking the Boundary Commission for a review.  In my opinion the main change that is needed is to move from the current “winner takes all” (FPTP) to the “preference voting” (STV) method of elections.  Scotland has STV for local government elections already – hence their higher turnout at election times.  STV gives the electors far more power than FPTP.  So instead of a meaningful change we are getting a great upheaval for very little benefit.

Today
Unfortunately, once we are in the hands of the Boundary Commission we have to play by their rules.  The Boundary Commission has decided – because of its interpretation of the law –   that in boroughs that have elections by thirds, it will begin reviews with a presumption of delivering a uniform pattern of three councillor wards.  It has made this decision because it believes that people do not have the wit to understand how elections work and would be confused if there were elections across the country but none in their locality – another case of dumbing down.

Weybridge
For Weybridge to be fairly represented in Elmbridge borough’s council it requires ten councillors. The town has four wards: two are two member wards and two are three member wards. So if we want elections by thirds we would have to get rid of our two member wards and share wards with Walton and Hersham.  To avoid this we would have to have elections every four years.  A regrettable step in my view.

Regardless of what you want, or the councillors want (of any party) the Boundary Commission will make its recommendation to the national parliament and that parliament will decide.

Regardless of the commission’s proposals, some, if not all, ward boundaries will change because that it what the commission does.  Then there will have to be an extra whole council election.  The earliest date for this election would be May 2016.

Below I have produced a table that should highlight the merits of each types of election.  please tell me if you have any questions or thoughts.  I’ll do my best to answer them.

Options Election by thirds All-up elections
Benefits Greater accountability as councillors are required to engage and defend decisions on a more frequent basis.A potentially greater mix of new and experienced councillors because just after each election there will be new councillors and third year councillors.Voters have a more frequent opportunity of changing the administration.The national political cycle has less effect on the local election results

Greater consistency of councillors by reducing the potential for large scale change at the same time.

Fewer candidates required each year for nominations, thereby reducing the chance of non-contested seats.

Political make-up of the council is potentially more reflective of the changing views of the electorate.

First-time voters and recent incomers may vote within the year.

Wards of different sizes namely three, two [or even single member wards] could be maintained, which might better reflect the diversity of communities that make up the borough.Modest financial savings in the cost of administering elections depending on whether there are other elections (such as Surrey County Council, National or European elections) in that year.The ability for the administration to take a four year view without worrying about an election within a year.All political parties find it difficult to mount elections every year.
Disadvantages As all wards must have three councillors (exceptions may be made in some very special circumstances) the link between wards and village identities could be lost.There is a modest extra cost for administering elections in three years out of four.The administration is always conscious of an election within a year.All political parties struggle to mount campaigns each year. Less accountability as councillors are only required to engage and defend decisions only every four years with the possibility that the most unpopular decisions would be taken at the beginning of the four year term and more popular decisions towards the end of the four year term regardless of what is right for the Borough.It is possible to have a council entirely consisting of new councillors – with no experience.Voters have to wait four years to remove the administration.A full set of councillors required in one year thereby increasing the chance of non-contested seats – especially single member wards.

It is possible for the council to swing dramatically from one political party to another

First-time voters and recent incomers may have to wait up to four years to vote.

 

 

Highest employment ever

UnemploymentIt has taken some hard choices – and the remarkable effort of millions of people and business around the country – but this marks another positive step on the road to a stronger economy.
There are two million more people in private sector jobs, fewer unemployed young people, long term unemployment is falling and we have more women in work than ever before.

The only way we have been able to play our part in turning the economy around is by taking the long view.  Back in 2008-09 who would have thought the Britain would have the highest growth in Europe (bar Iceland) and the seven highest in the OECD (after Chile, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand and Turkey).

But, in my view, we have a long way to go.  Part of the solution is to ensure that any government at the national level is elected with the majority of the voters.  It is unlikely that the recovery would have happened if the Liberal Democrats had not stepped up to provide Britain with a strong and stable government in tough times.  The coalition was elected with 59% of the vote.  There has not been a British national government elected with a backing of over 50% of the vote since the 1930s.  Indeed, in peacetime the present coalition was elected with more support than any other government since the Liberal landslide in the 1860s under Gladstone.

British voting since 1832

Let’s Talk Elmbridge

Let's tallk Elmbridge June 2014Let’s talk Elmbridge is the borough’s programme of events to consult, engage and inform burghers about Elmbridge issues and how the administration plans to deal with them.

The next Let’s talk Elmbridge event will be on at 11:00 till 13:00 on Wednesday, 13 August at Excel.  This event will be a marketplace with stall focusing on different aspects of borough work and policy.  There will be activities for children too.

Surrey Allowance Increases

money-43Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Surrey Liberal Democrats wrote to the Secretary of State asking him to investigate the excessive increases (from £27,000 pa to £43,000 pa) in councillor allowances and the excessive number of special responsibility allowances pushed through by Surrey’s Conservative administration. She also asked him to check whether the national government’s own regulations had been followed by the Surrey administration.

Cllr Watson said : “I am delighted with the response I have received from Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to my letter. He has condemned the decisions on councillors allowances as “deeply concerning” and agrees with me that Surrey did not comply with government regulations. He has stated that the national government expects those in public life to show restraint and to set levels of allowances for councillors and remuneration for officers which reflect the pressure on budgets and the need to pay off the deficit left by the last national administration. I totally agree with his comments.

“Given the national government’s clear condemnation of the decisions and also the outrage expressed by the Surrey people who have to foot the bill, I am again calling on Surrey’s Conservative administration to overturn their decisions on councillors allowances and replace them with something much more reasonable.

“Surrey’s Conservative administration is living in cloud cuckoo land if they think that they can get away with these outrageous councillor allowances. It is time for them to back down and admit they made a massive mistake to the detriment of the Surrey people.”

To read the letters to and from the national ministers click here.

Euro Results

Now that the Euro election results are in we can see the full picture.  For any new law to be passed in Europe it has to gain a majority of the votes in the upper house and a majority of votes in the lower house. In the upper house that means it has to have the support of at least two of the People’s Party, the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats.  If the Conservative Party, the Green Party and UKIP all voted together they would get less than 10% support.

Euro UH 2014-02

The upper house is not directly elected – not yet anyway.  Members of the upper house are appointed by the the member governments.  Most governments in Europe are either run by the People’s Party or by the socialist parties (Labour).  The Liberal Democrats are the lead party in two member states and are in coalition with the Conservatives in Britain.  The Conservative Party only governs in Britain as the senior coalition partner. The Green party is a junior coalition partner in a number of member states.

The lower house of the European legislature (confusingly called the Parliament) is directly elected and the recent elections have shown gains by the Eurosceptic parties at the expense of the broad range of traditional parties.  However, although significant, these gains are not sufficient to change the law making process through Europe.

Euro LH 2014-02

 

 

To pass a law in the lower house only the support of the People’s Party and the socialist parties (Labour) is required.

So despite the press coverage in Britain highlighting the landslide gains for UKIP.  The full results show that UKIP’s success in Britain does not translate into any change of power at all.

The Eurosceptic’s success in the Euro-elections have mainly affected two important member states – France and Britain.  The National Front’s gains in France and UKIP’s gain in Britain mean that Britain’s and France’s place in Europe cannot be guaranteed.  A Europe without Britain is conceivable.  A Europe without France would be an interesting development.  A Europe without Britain or France would probably change beyond all recognition.

As France’ economy is still in deep trouble the National Front will probably continue to make gains.  However a lot can happen to Britain’s economy before the national elections in 2015.

Euro Upper House

Like many countries, Europe has two chambers in its legislature. The upper house is known as the European Council (also known as the Council of the European Union) and the lower house, confusingly, is known as the European Parliament.

The members of the European Council are not elected but each EU state appoints their own members.  Decisions are usually made  by consensus.  For example in 2008, 128 out of 147 Council decisions were unanimous. Within the remaining decisions, there was a total of 32 abstentions and 8 votes against the respective decision. These opposing votes were cast twice by Luxembourg and once by each of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal.  The British government did not vote against any decision.

This put the lie to those who say that Europe imposes rules on Britain that the British do not want.  British politicians often tell the British public that “sorry we cannot help it but Europe is telling us to do it” when, in fact, the British government usually voted for the new rule in the first place.

The upper house meets in secret (because countries like Britain want it that way) but I think democracy would be better served if debate in the upper house were open to the public.  Then we could see clearly how both Labour and Conservative politicians have been pulling the wool over the British public’s eyes.