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A Magazine for Sheffield

Sheffield turns 100% Labour on 50% of the vote, as results come in for "most distorted election in history"

Our undemocratic electoral system has, once again, disenfranchised and ignored tens of thousands of people across the city.

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Green candidate Alexi Dimond (second left) called first-past-the-post "a fundamentally flawed and anti-democratic system".

All six parliamentary seats in Sheffield have now been won by the Labour Party, as results come in for a general election that some are predicting will produce the most distorted result in history.

Labour have retained Sheffield Central, Sheffield South East, Sheffield Heeley, Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, and have picked up Penistone and Stocksbridge from the Conservatives. All eight other seats in South Yorkshire have been won by Labour.

The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system used for general elections in the UK means that the number of seats each party wins is often dramatically different to their share of the vote – and this year the disparity could be greater than in any previous election once all the results are in.

Across the six Sheffield constituencies the Green Party won an average of 13% of the vote, but FPTP meant that this translated into zero seats. Across the country at the last general election in 2019, the party won one seat (out of 650) despite picking up 850,000 votes.

FPTP has also guaranteed that the Conservatives (who support FPTP) and the Liberal Democrats (who oppose FPTP) have also won no seats in Sheffield, despite picking up 14.51% (Conservatives) and 11.45% (Lib Dems) of the vote across the city.

Writing in the Financial Times at the end of June, data reporter John Burn-Murdoch predicted that the final result could not only be the most distorted in UK history, but “the most distorted election outcome of any major country in the world.”

Keir Starmer, who will become Britain’s new Prime Minister later today, told Labour party members when he was running for the leadership in 2020 that “on electoral reform, we’ve got to address the fact that millions of people vote in safe seats and they feel their vote doesn’t count.”

“That’s got to be addressed,” he continued, suggesting that he supported a move away from FPTP. “We will never get full participation in our electoral system until we do that at every level.”

But since then, as it has looked increasingly likely that FPTP would deliver Labour an unprecedented majority far out of proportion to their share of the vote, he has reversed his position on switching from FPTP to a form of Proportional Representation (PR), which would more fairly allocate seats according to votes.

As early as 2022, the Labour leader ruled out including a switch to a fairer voting system in the party’s next election manifesto, despite an overwhelming majority of party members backing a motion supporting the idea at that year’s conference, which was also supported by the Unison and Unite unions.

By 2023, as the Conservatives continued to plummet in the polls following the disastrous premiership of neo-liberal extremist Liz Truss, a spokesperson for Starmer told Byline Times that he had a “long-standing view against PR”, despite this appearing to contradict what he had told party members when running for leader.

This puts him at odds with most of the trade unions that are substantial financial backers of the Labour Party, who have increasingly come out in support of a fairer voting system over recent years. Two-thirds of unions that support Labour now back a move away from FPTP, including the 350,000 strong USDAW union.

Hundreds of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have also passed motions in support of Proportional Representation, some variant of which is used by almost every other democracy in the world.

"These results demonstrate what a fundamentally flawed and anti-democratic system we use to elect governments in the UK," Green candidate Alexi Dimond, who got 15.4% of the vote in Sheffield Heeley, told Now Then.

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Rob Reiss said there was a "moral need" for a fairer voting system.

Cllr Rob Reiss.

"Labour got around 2% more of the vote, and about half a million less votes overall than they did in 2019, and ended up with a super majority. Meanwhile the Tories got almost seven million votes and were virtually wiped out – meaning that perhaps even they might have to change their stance on electoral reform."

"This could leave the Labour Party – or more accurately its authoritarian leader – as the only party opposing Proportional Representation, which is supported by Labour members, unions and CLPs."

"Meanwhile the Greens got 6.8% of the vote but only four MPs," Dimond continued. "Under a proportional system this would have been 44 Green MPs fighting for action on the climate and nature emergencies, an end to the housing crisis and austerity, a ceasefire in Gaza and the real change this country, people and planet need."

Rob Reiss, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge who won 6.5% of yesterday's vote, told Now Then that the party's first manifesto in 1992 included a commitment to moving to a more proportional voting system, and that "every manifesto since has repeated this commitment to ending the use of first-past-the-post."

"FPTP worked well for us yesterday, but we do not seek to change the voting system for personal gain but rather because we see it as a moral need to ensure that as few votes as possible are wasted in democracy," he said.

"Whilst I trust that [winning Labour candidate] Marie Tidball MP will work for every resident in the constituency, 56.4% of votes cast in Penistone and Stocksbridge lead to no representation in Parliament."

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