The Scotsman on Sunday
February 1, 2004
McConnell urged to change rules for PR voting
By Nicholas Christian
Opposition parties yesterday demanded the Scottish
Executive accept the advice of its own expert group and alter plans for
proportional representation voting in local council elections to make them
First Minister Jack McConnell agreed to replace first-past-the-post (FPTP)
with the single transferable vote (STV) in the post-election coalition deal
with the Lib Dems, despite strong opposition from Labour backbenchers and
councillors who favour the status quo.
But an interim report by the independent STV working group recommends
ministers go further and alter the Local Governance (Scotland) Bill, now in
parliament, to allow some wards to have five seats and others, in the remotest
areas, to have two.
This flexibility would allow wards to be allocated more accurately in terms of
natural communities, geography and parity, the experts said.
However, aides to McConnell said it would take "a great deal of
persuading" to change the plans already agreed with the Lib-Dems.
Socialist leader Tommy Sheridan, who is on the Local Government Committee that
will quiz Lib-Dem and Labour ministers on the bill next week, said that the
report was a "huge embarrassment" to the coalition.
The report, issued on Wednesday, cites evidence that the coalitionĺ─˘s plans
would be the least proportional system of PR that exists and that allowing
five-member wards would improve proportionality.