Conservative plans to hold future mayoral elections under First Past The Post have, perhaps inevitably, been greeted with social media claims that the party is attempting to “rig” future elections in its favour.
As with so many instant conspiracy theories this one seems based more on the advocates’ political bias than on any logic or reason and those pushing it are ignoring two important facts.
Firstly, the second round of voting is not a guaranteed part of the process. It only comes into play if none of the candidates win more than 50% of the votes cast on the first round.
Had Sadiq passed the 50% threshold last year he’d have instantly become Mayor. None of the second preference votes cast for him or Zac Goldsmith would have played a role in deciding the election’s outcome.
Secondly, whatever you think of moving to FPTP, it’s important to remember that in each of the previous five London contests the candidate who got the most first preference votes went on to win the mayoralty.
SV has some clear advantages, including forcing candidates to reach out beyond their own party base to win the top job, but it’s never been an election decider – there’s never been a situation where a candidate led on the first round only to lose on the second.
And while it could be argued that dropping SV would weaken a mayor’s claim to represent a broad cross-section of Londoners, moving to FPTP doesn’t give the Tories any special advantage.
The party tends to poll behind Labour in London, this is not a stronghold where it enjoys a lead that would be unassailable but for the support of Green and LibDem voters. In London the Tories tend to be the challengers.
Whatever reason Theresa May had for changing the voting system, it definitely wasn’t because her party stands to gain.
- Reviewing London’s voting system could allow us to better represent London’s growth areas
- Imposing First Past the Post on Londoners would be a deeply undemocratic move
- Tories confirm London Assembly also faces election rules shake-up
- No, moving to First Past The Post won’t guarantee a procession of Tory London Mayors
- Tory manifesto reveals plans to overhaul London Mayoral election system