The Sunderland report on Welsh lokal elektions.

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( Kapital-i, in 'I, myself', now spels Il as in isle or aisle.
Leter y spels sym for seem or seam and partys for parties.
Leter w spels swn for soon. )

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Among many yusful and som important rekomendations.

The nw national asembly of Wales began soly under Labor party rul. Shortly after, Labor form'd a ko-alition with the Liberal Demokrats. This was mayd posibl by party proportional elektions, the Aditional Member System ( AMS ) wich sher'd syts with smaler partys. Under the terms of ther partnership, a komision was set up to reviw the elektoral aranjments of lokal government in Wales.

The nIn-member komity was chair'd by Profesor Eric Sunderland OBE. The Sunderland report was publish'd in july 2002. LIk the Kerley report of ther sister komision for Scottish lokal government, the Welsh drw on the McIntosh report's konseption of demokrasy, wich may hav influens'd thys komisions' chois of elektoral system.

Beyond the question of the voting method, a komplyt over-haul of Welsh lokal elektoral aranjments was within the komision's remit. Thirty thry rekomendations wer mayd. Al but tw, about the best voting method, wer pas'd unanimusly by the komity nIn. Tw members disented on the voting method.

Most rekomendations wer the dul but esential details that go into the praktikal work of politiks. The big ideas of politiks kan be al but submerj'd without such smal thots. Rutyn work dos turn up yusful fakts: many yungsters said they wud be mor lIkly to vot by the internet, especialy text mesajing. Postal voting nyded simplifying.

Improving understanding of lokal government and turn-out at elektions senter'd on al availabl myns of publisity, inkluding making government sesions mor open to the publik, and beter akses for disabl'd voters. Kounsilors surjery tIms shud be advertis'd, lokal papers publish mor prosydings. Ther shud be anual reports, question and anser sesions, and provision for formal petitions from the publik.

Uon unanimus rekomendation was kontroversial: lowering the voting aij to sixtyn. It is a klasik kais of ryson being up against kustom. In ancient Rome, fortyn was the aij a boy bekaim a man. But that is a rather distant presedent for sivilisation. The komision was redus'd to myr komon sens: yu kan get mary'd and get a job at sixtyn, so wI not the vot?
Redusing the aij for kounsilors from 21 to 18 was also rekomended.

An other important komision rekomendation was a fry-post fasility to enkuraj mor lokal kandidats.
The komision wish'd to redus the number of nominations for kandidatur from ten to tw. Such a chanj mIt hav to be reviw'd against posibl abuses of tu ysy an admision for kandidatur. Nominations ar the demokratik alternativ to the prejudis in jeneral elektions that the posesion of mony konfers virtu. The kandidat is put on bail, lIk a suspekted ofender, about to be juj'd by the publik. Les than fIv per sent suport lwses his deposit.

The komision advokated special lyv for publik sektor workers and awards to privat and voluntary organisations helpful to aspiring kandidats.
Involvment of al parts of the komunity in the houl demokratik proses was a fytur of the report.
Perhaps enuf indikation has byn given hyr that the komision rylIs'd a thoro efort must be mayd to revers the deklIn in partisipation in publik polisy-making.

Seven voting systems to chws from.

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The Sunderland komision's terms of referens gav seven voting systems to konsider, inkluding the existing first past the post. Other posibl systems wer not exkluded. Neither the komision nor the publik mayd any other sujestions.

BesIds the komprehensiv atempts to reviv lokal demokrasy, an other merit of the komision's work was the sens it givs of a dialog betwyn the komity and the publik. This kontrasts to the Jenkins report's blinker'd chois of system ( AV+ ) wich nobody wanted. The Plant report wanted wat apyr'd best, for its partikular party, wich nobody wanted, either. Folowing the Sunderland report's dialog, uon sys that the seven kandidats, for Welsh lokal elektoral method, wer swn redus'd.

Party list systems inkluding Aditional Member Systems.

No mor than tw or thry very jeneral staitments wer mayd in favor of party list systems. No proponents had any praktikal advIs, such as wether the lists wud be of kandidats for a houl authority. They wer unabl to say how independents kud be elekted on equal terms with party kandidats benefiting from ther kolygs' vot in a party proportional kount.
Many pepl wer familiar with ther jeneral propertys, tho most nyded reminding the system was yus'd in Britain for the European elektions.
Som presur grups said list systems enkuraj'd partys to inklud under-represented sektions of sosiety as kandidats. The komision gav som weit to this but kudnt refrain from komenting that they mIt not be put hI enuf on the list to be elekted.

Most publik koments wer against the saif syts for thos hI on the lists, wich kud be yus'd to favor party loyalists over mor popular kandidats.

The aditional member system was probably the most wIdly understud in Wales of the alternativ systems, bekaus alredy yus'd for the Welsh asembly.
'A fw pepl' favor'd it for kounsil elektions.

The komision itself alow'd the konventional wisdom that AMS provided lokal links and an element of proportion against uon-party rul, perhaps with under-represented grups among the aditional members.

Oponents of AMS klaim'd:

there was confusion and irritation that people who had been unsuccessful in FPTP ( first past the post ) elections might still win a seat by means of their being highly placed on their party's regional list. The National Assembly experience was said to show that AMS generated bickering between constituency and list members in an area and voters were confused as to whom they should call on for advice and support. It was also argued that many people were confused by the requirement... for voters to cast two votes, and... that they did not understand the relation between the two.

Others regarded aditional members as sekond klas. The komision ask'd how wud lokal authoritys benefit from kounsilors with and without konstituensy responsibilitys.
They also ask'd wen syts wer unkontested, wud aditional vots be lost as wel?

It was pointed out that the aditional members from party lists had the saim disadvantajes of a strait party list system. The komision endors'd this viw.

"There was little interest shown in AV+" ( the alternativ vot plus partly proportional party lists ). The komision viw'd this as a 'refInment' of AMS. But it is a refInment that involvs 'tw voting proseses', X-voting and rank'd voting, wich the komision belyv'd 'unesesarily konfusing'. AV+ fer'd no beter than AMS in debait and it is untrI'd any-wer in the world.

Reviwer's koments on AMS.

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The usual form of the aditional member system is som-tIms kal'd the dubl vot. In any kais, the system ofers a dubl saifty net for unpopular kandidats. Firstly, ther is the saif syt system of singl member konstituensys, wer lokal party predominans garantys ther nominy a plas in parliment. This is aktualy safer than the strait singl member system, bekaus ther ar fwer and larjer singl member konstituensys, wich typikly fal even mor into the hands of the tw larjest partys. Sekondly, the party kan ensur any rejekt is 'elekted' by being put hI enuf on ther party list for aditional members.

The best nown kais of this was wen the German Christian Demokrat lyder, Helmut Kohl was defyted in his konstituensy but stil 'elekted' from the top of his party's list for aditional members. Kohl may hav byn the viktim of chans demografik chanjes that mov'd suporters out and oponents into a formerly saif konstituensy.

Of kors, to mak chans, rather than chois, the ruling faktor is to defyt the purpos of an elektion. This is al the mor so, wen the chanses ar lowded by jery-mandering to ensur a syt is saif for a given party. By aksident or desIn, the monopolys of the singl member system ensur lokal chans frustrats popular chois.
This failur to provid a proper test of publik opinion is an exampl of bad system desIn.

Efektiv elektions is the only fair kriterion of voting method. The kurius thing is that the Plant report juj'd voting methods by how they wer efektiv as any-thing but elektions. The report talked of efektiv government, efektiv partys, efektiv this and that, but never efektiv elektions.

German ekonomik resiliens, thru the most apaling governments, has byn konveniently over-lwk'd in the wish to konfer kredit on the aditional member system as kontributing to post-war rekovery. Taking the Plant report by its own dubius standards, uon kud just as blithly asum that AMS did not ofer suficient saif-gard against German government's bribery and koruption krisis.
British suporters of this system usualy hav said that Germany's AMS kan not be braketed with the strait party list system that Italy had, befor its Christian Demokrats' skandals. But ther is a 'prima facie' kais for saying that both systems similarly fail'd to mak government akountabl.

It is understandabl that Welsh voters, for the National Asembly, wud be konfus'd bekaus AMS simply dos not do wat it says it dos. The 'personal' vote for a kandidat in a singl member konstituensy dosnt serv that purpos. The German Federal Demokrat lyder Herr Genscher was never elekted by his 'personal' or 'direkt' vot but apointed from his party's list.
Was he a popular figur or a dud kandidat? On this, the system, for al its konfusing pretensions, remains silent. Yet this jentlman was deputy lyder of the Federal Republik, after the maner of the Vikar of Bray, hw 'wil be Vikar of Bray stil', wether the Christian or the Social Demokrats wer in power.

This is of som moment for British lokal government now that a kabinet system has byn introdus'd, after the national model.

Majoritarian systems, especialy First Past The Post.

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The Suplementary Vot, yus'd for the London Mayor's elektion, but otherwis unfamiliar, fail'd to jenerat any interest or suport. The komision saw no lojikal ryson for this system's restriktion to only tw rank'd choises, unlIk the Alternativ Vot.

The komision didnt belyv it wud be equitabl to yus rural singl member konstituensys ( with the alternativ vot ) with just urban multi-member konstituensys ( yusing the singl transferabl vot ). This wud giv dis-proportionat representation to rural Torys against urban Labor, as they quoted from the Jenkins report.

It wud be hard to justify chanjing to either of thys tw systems sins they do not over-kom the main wykneses of the existing First Past The Post elektoral system. Al thry systems ar majoritarian, wich myns they do not adres tw of the main requirments, the komision was ask'd to konsider by its terms of referens: diversity of representation and a larj enuf oposition for efektiv skrutiny of the powerful kabinet system introdus'd into lokal government.

A statistikal profil of Welsh kounsilors revyl'd 99% wIt, 81% mayl, 59% older than averaj and 48% retir'd. BesIds this distortionat representation, fyblnes of oposition was reflekted in Wales' hI proportion of syts that ar not even worth kontesting: 208 or 16.4% in 1995, and 211 unopos'd out of 1270 kounsilors in 1999.
Disharten'd oposition may also be disern'd in a low turn-out at 47%, bekoming 41% wen proportionaly taking into akount the unkontested syts.

Rysons given in publik for First Past The Post ( FPTP ) folow'd konventional lIns. Ther kais was similar to that of the 1977 Selekt Komity on Euro-elektions. That rer okasion, of oficial apolojetiks for the singl member system, was an atempt to preserv it for al elektions on the British main-land. The atempt suksyded until the first Blair government.

FPTP was said to be trI'd and tested. Such a staitment unthinkingly hangs onto kurent elektoral yusaj or rather abusaj. The point is that the kontinualy trI'd test has konsistently fail'd to produs representativ results.
This failur is tasitly admited in the lauded tradition of wining kandidats 'representing' ( that is patronising ) konstituents, hw didnt vot for them.

The remark that FPTP involvs konsulting over konstituensy boundarys givs away the fakt that this is a system wich is always moving the boundarys. Boundarys, by definition, shud ofer a stabl identity to komunitys.
The asertion that FPTP produses 'strong and stabl government' expreses the belyf in a system that givs a monopoly of power to the larjest faktions.

Politiks bekoms a sporting kontest 'first past the post', in wich the 'winer taks al'. This spoils system is a mok batl, in wich 'viktors' subjugat 'lwsers.'
The synikal asumption is that pepl ar inkapabl of rekonsiling interests, so that ther is no other option than a ritualis'd war of 'dominat or be dominated.'
Laking is the kritikal rol of giving du weit, and no mor than du weit, to the oposition in advising and warning a ruling interest against over-lwking other interests, wich al-together go to mak up the wel-being of the houl komunity.

First-Past-The-Post suporters hav bekom komfortabl in its vIses, parading them as virtus.

Koments on the bryf disent for FPTP, by tw komision members.

Tw, of the nIn members of the Sunderland komision, favor'd First Past The Post in singl member konstituensys. The disenting tw held that multi-member konstituensys wer les lokal and therfor les akountabl. The singl member system gav 'a direkt link' betwyn kounsilors and konstituents.

Edward VII said to his Liberal ministry that he was glad they desIded against the chanel tunel. He said wat we nyd ar personal relationships not fysikal relationships. 'The Pys-maker' foster'd kordial relations with France, after the lIks of 'the Fashoda insident'. For beter or wors, Britain now has the chunel. But the old king's prinsipl stil aplIs.
The singl member system givs the klosest fysikal relation betwyn kounsilor and konstituents, that elektoraly prekluds much, if not most, of the klosest personal relationships.
The McIntosh report, as quoted by the Kerley report, apreciated this point.

The singl member is only 'the most akountabl,' in the lyst akountabl system, wer ther is no other that konstituents kan turn to. The tw disenters kondon'd saif syts, wich mak the representativ akountabl to his nominating party rather than the publik.
Al the minority tw ofer is the promis of partys patronising kandidats ( ther protogés ) from minority grups. But this is at kros-purposes with the singl member system, wich is to hand over power to the larjest faktions.
In other words, it's a sop, not a ryl chanj of hart, wich wud suport representativ elektions.

The komision found uon of the thry main publik atituds was that saif syts mayd it imposibl to influens the out-kom of elektions. To the tw party loyalists, this was not uon of the 'isyus that ryly mater to komunitys', tho ther sitizens think other-wIs.
The komision, at lyst the majority seven, wish'd 'both the diversity of pepl and ther diversity of opinion to be properly reflekted in kounsil membership.'

The apyl of the komision's minority tw for FPTP is to 'the over-welming suport' of 19 out of 22 kounsils and the majority of kounsilors. Notis how 'over-welming suport' reduses to undefin'd 'majority', as a fiktion upon fiktion of the winer-taks-al system.

The disenters' evidens givs away a party-senter'd atitud to publik elektions. Uon disenter was a Tory, the other Labor. The komision herd an other of thry main publik atituds to be that partys and politicians ar al the saim. The disenting tw ofer an exampl of 'party first', wich-ever party the politician hapens to kom from.

The minority tw sIted the fal in turn-out at Welsh Euro-elektions, from 36% in 1994 to 28.1% in 1999, with the introduktion of 'the most proportional system, the party list system.' By this, they myn the most extrym imposition of proportional partisanship. The klos'd list was vehemently opos'd, among thos hw had even herd of it -- no thanks to the partys. Nobody wanted it in the kuntry, just as they didnt, at the Sunderland komision's hyrings. The klos'd list was a bak-rwm dyl betwyn the Labor and Liberal lydership, for ko-operation in the 1997 jeneral elektion.

The Singl Transferabl Vot: koments on remarks against.

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To the komision, oponents of STV said that the konstituensys, being of multi-members wer tu larj. This was not an impresiv komplaint, sins over haf of Welsh kounsilors ar elekted from tw- to fIv-member konstituensys.
With an x-vot for ych syt, the larjest faktion tends to tak al the syts in a multi-member konstituensy. FPTP in multi-member konstituensys is agravated distortionat representation. STV in multi-member konstituensys givs proportional representation. Oponents mayd the ridikulus exkus that STV wud kaus bikering betwyn members of diferent partys in the saim multi-member konstituensy. Thus, they show'd ther preferens for members of the saim party monopolising the multi-member konstituensys, wich kauses 'bikering,' alrIt, from majoritys or larj minoritys of konstituents with wasted vots.

Oponents then had the gal to say STV wud result in minority administrations. Six months after Hare's system kaim out, in the mid nIntynth sentury, J S Mill noted how oponents, of this for-runer of STV, thrw the faults of FPTP onto its remedy. Indyd, he yus'd this very exampl, pointing out that this proportional representation presisly ensurs majority rul.
If no uon party wins a majority, the most prefer'd ko-alition to form a majority kan be shown by how voters transfer from uon party's kandidats to an other party's kandidats.

Oponents of STV klaim'd it was not demokratik bekaus it wud giv primasy to sekond, third and forth choises. This mIt be tru of the alternativ vot or suplementary vot, wer-by lower orders of preferens kount for as much as hIer orders, if they kom into play. STV primarily depends on elekting the kandidats with the most first preferenses in multi-member konstituensys. An Irish election, reviw'd by the Electoral Reform Society, show'd first preferenses akounted for over tw-thirds of the elekted kandidats. Mostly, hI preferenses akounted for the rest.
With STV, a voter's lower choises kan not kount against ther hIer choises.

The arguments against STV ar as be-nIted as ever.

Sunderland komision majority suport for STV.

Seven of the nIn on the Sunderland komision belyv'd the moderatly sIz'd multi-member konstituensys, kontemplated for yusing with STV, wud giv proportional enuf representation against a uon-party stait.

Mor or les syts per konstituensy wud flexibly fit every sIz of komunity, without torturing ther boundarys. Tho the konstituensys wud be larjer, the system wud be houly konstituensy-bais'd.

The partys wud be oblij'd to fyld sleits of kandidats, typikal of the social diversity of the multi-member konstituensy, to gather as many vots as posibl from al grups. This is especialy as the voters kan prefer kandidats, in order of chois. And individual kandidats kan be prefer'd from kandidats of the saim, as wel as diferent partys ( as the hyring's STV suporters said ).

Aparently, oponents of STV klaim'd that a first, sekond, third etc order of chois, for kandidats, wud not be understud. The komision regarded this as 'an insult' to the voters and themselvs.

The komision was awer that STV givs independents benefit of a proportional kount, as wel as party kandidats. Ten per sent of Irish kouncilors ar independents.

The komision suspekted first past the post, mor than STV, favor'd independents. This notion kan be dispel'd. As the komision itself said, STV tryts independents on an equal basis to party kandidats, unlIk party lists. In may 2002, the Irish parliment, the Dail, elekted 14 independents. As I diskus'd in my reviw of the Kerley report, first past the post efektivly abolish'd independents for the Komons. STV alow'd independents to be return'd from the university konstituensys.

Politiks shud be progresiv. So litl syms to hav been achyv'd sins Mill's houps for representativ government. In this respekt, I wud lIk to kongratulat the Sunderland komision for its substantial kontribution.

The kabinet system and lokal government.

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Lokal authoritys alredy tend to imitat the government of the day. I remember the 'pasionat intensity' of Thatcher government for hunting down sivil servis lyks. ( The kurent Blair government shows this atitud has never ryly chanj'd. Such governmental enerjy mIt hav byn devoted to worthier ends. ) It so hapen'd that som unauthoris'd information also had byn disklos'd in an English lokality. And shur enuf, an imitativ lokal administrativ task fors was mobilis'd to lyv no stoun unturn'd to find and punish the lous responsibl.

The kabinet system is a party-kontrol'd system, hws sukses as a moud of government may be denI'd. Suksesful or not, wil lokal government be konform'd to it? Or wil the model prov just tu much at ods with the desirs of lokal pepl?

The kabinet system is under-pin'd by the doktrin of kolektiv responsibility. John Mackintosh, the author of The British Cabinet, sIted the exampl of Lord Melbourne's ministry. Melbourne is supos'd to hav said that wat-ever we desId about the Korn Laws, let's mak shur we do it together.

Mackintosh said the doktrin is not bais'd on morality. In other words, it is the expediens of 'Dont rok the bowt.' The kabinet diskuses its diferenses in sekret, to hId divisions, and then imposes its outward unanimity on its party thru the wiping system, to maintain a majority vot in parliment for kontrol of government.

Wen Quyn Victoria ask'd Lord Derby, wether he had the suport he nyded of the independents, to win a parlimentary vot, he replI'd: Ma'am, an independent is som-uon hw kan not be depended on.

This quip shudnt lyd to a partisan prejudis against independents as som sort of alien lIf form. No Viktorian member was mor independent than John Stuart Mill. No-uon mor openly told his konstituents how individual his viws and komitments wer. Yet he belong'd to a grup of independent Liberals.

The Labor party was orijinaly the Independent Labour party, from asimilation by the Tory and Liberal partys. BesIds independent interest grups, lIk the miners MPs, Labor also had rebels lIk 'the Clydesiders' ( inkluding Shinwell, hw suported STV ).

LIkwIs in 1945, A P Herbert was an independent MP. By this tIm, independents only surviv'd thru singl transferabl vot elektions from the university konstituensys. But, as his elektion adres staits, he jeneraly suported the Konservativs, myrly reserving the rIt to vot akording to his konsiens, rather than always obey the party wips from top-down dogmatists.

The destruktion of independens of thot has lower'd MPs prestij and demoralis'd them. It lyvs politiks to the plas-men, hw serv manifesto doktrins, that the elektorat has to swalow houl, without the fry elektoral system to diskriminat among individual kandidats hw suport this or that partikular polisys.
The question is wether a lokal government kabinet system wil repyt the history of the Komons and exterminat independents, as wel as independens of thot, thru party wips.
Hw nos?
The best ges may be that it is mor lIkly to serv as a warning lokal komunitys wil want to avoid. If so, they wil do wel to chws the singl transferabl vot to enkuraj the rIt of representativs to exersis ther own jujment, rather than be unquestioning partisans.
Supresing independents in government, national or lokal, isyus from a jeneral denIing that matur rIt to independens of mind, aserted by Edmund Burke.
Wat is mor, frydom of thot is the main instrument of progres, achyv'd so spektakularly in siens, and resisted so strenuusly by the danjerus anakronisms of the partisans' top-down politiks.

Richard Lung.

14 august 2002.

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