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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK


UK Politics

PR move in council ballots

Labour has a massive majority on Glasgow City Council

A new report is expected to recommend the use of proportional representation in future council elections in Scotland.

The McIntosh Commission, led by former Strathclyde Chief Executive Neil McIntosh, publishes its report on Tuesday and the PR issue is said to be one of its most significant recommendations.


BBC Scotland Political Editor Brian Taylor on PR and Labour
Senior Labour officials are understood to be ready to accept the findings of the government-appointed commission.

They see it as a means of rebutting criticism of the party's record in local government, after being embarrassed by the behaviour of some Scottish councils where there have been unassailable majorities.


[ image: The record of Labour councils has come under fire]
The record of Labour councils has come under fire
After proportional representation in European and Scottish Parliamentary elections, the Scottish leadership is keen to extend PR further - mindful that rejection could damage Labour's relationship with its Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

But the move has not found favour with some Labour MPs, who have already expressed unhappiness at the Jenkins Commission's recommendations for PR reform of elections to Westminster.

Clydesdale MP Jimmy Hood is reported to have said the leadership "shouldn't touch it with a bargepole".

Local government spokesman Kenneth Gibson said: "Labour are deeply divided over PR for local government, with their primary motivation clearly being the maintenance of local power bases achieved via an unfair and discredited voting system.

"In the Scottish Parliament election, Labour's vote in the PR regional list ballot fell to its lowest in Scotland since 1931.

European elections

"And in the European elections, it crashed to its lowest since 1918.

"People in the Labour Party are terrified of PR for council elections because they know that it would mean the end of their one-party states in Scotland."

But a spokesman for Scottish Labour said any moves towards proportional representation would merely reflect the party's existing acceptance of the situation.

He said: "It's called new politics. We went into the Scottish Parliamentary elections and the European elections under systems which some might not have thought in our best interests.

"Our record on PR is very strong. In the last few weeks we have seen voter fatigue in the European elections and the turnout for local elections is normally low and we want to change that."

Alongside PR, the commission is expected to recommend moves to encourage more voter participation, including proposals for voting in supermarkets.

Broad support

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has stated broad support for electoral reform, "provided that the essential link between councillor and constituent is maintained".

Prior to publication of the McIntosh report's recommendations, Cosla and Scottish ministers announced the formation of a Leadership Forum to consider the relationship between central and local government.

The forum will include ministers in the Scottish Administration, all of Scotland's council leaders and the chair of the Scottish Parliament Local Government Committee.



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UK Politics Contents

A-Z of Parliament
Talking Politics
Vote 2001

Relevant Stories

05 Nov 98 | UK Politics
Labour displays voting reform divisions

29 Oct 98 | The Jenkins Report
Jenkins delivers PR verdict

20 Oct 98 | The Jenkins Report
An idea whose time has come - again and again

21 Sep 98 | Lib Dem Conference
PR debate opens Lib Dem conference





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Convention of Scottish Local Authorities


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