18 March 2018
I am not sure what planet Mark Still of N5 (Islington Tribune letters page Friday, 16 March) lives on, but it is not one near here. For his information, although almost no one else of voting age will need this reminder, the Liberal Democrats received less than 15% of the vote in the 2014 elections for Islington Borough Council. So when he says a vote for the Green Party will give rise to a council majority of Liberal-Democrats, who he seems to see as no more than a proxy for the Conservatives, he is letting his imagination run away with him.
The real threat to democracy in Islington has nothing to do with the Liberal-Democrat Party. It has to do with the Labour Party. Labour currently holds 47 out of the 48 seats on Islington Council. Given the Labour surge in the 2017 General Election, there is a real danger that all 48 seats will fall to Labour in the local elections on 3 May. Now Mark Still may think that this is no bad thing, but very few of the rest of us, outside of Beijing or Moscow, would argue that one party rule is the sign of a healthy democracy.
Recent research by the Electoral Reform Society and other groups has shown that councils that are dominated by one party, no matter which party it is, provide worse value for money for taxpayers. The Society estimates that the cost to the public of councils with weak opposition is of the order of £2.6 billion annually. Transparency International have found that a council dominated by one party “creates a situation where there is much reduced accountability: the actions of councillors are not subject to the degree of scrutiny and criticism that would otherwise be provided by the opposition party.”
So I would tip Mark Still’s advice on its head. A Green Party candidate came in second to Labour in the majority of wards in Islington in 2014. Three more votes for Labour brings single party rule nearer; casting your three votes for the Green Party candidates will be a vote for greater scrutiny, transparency and accountability, leading to a healthier local democracy and, ultimately, better value for money.
Islington Green Party