North East peer Lord Shipley says we need PR to prevent creation of 'one party states'

Devolved North East could be dominated by Labour with no effective opposition, warns Lib Dem Lord Shipley

Lord Shipley
Lord Shipley

The UK must reconsider the case for proportional representation as more power is devolved - to prevent the creation of a series of one-party fiefdoms across the country, a North East peer has warned.

Lord Shipley, the former leader of Newcastle City Council, said he backed calls to devolve more power to nations such as Scotland and Wales, and regions including the North East.

But the Liberal Democrat politician, speaking at an event at his party’s annual conference, said there regional and national administrations would be undemocratic if only one party was represented.

The SNP appeared set to dominate Scotland while the North East was dominated by Labour and the south of England was dominated by Conservatives, he said.

The UK voted against changing the electoral system in 2011 in a referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote system, known as AV.

This is not stricly speaking a form of proportional representation, although it tends to produce results more proportionate than the current first past the post system used for General Elections and local elections in England.

Scotland, however, already uses the Single Transferable Vote system, which is a form of proportional representation (PR), for council elections.

And another version of PR is used for European Elections in the UK.

Lord Shipley said: “We are in a position now where we are creating one-party states in different parts of the UK.

“There is every prospect that the next election could be won by a single party with a third of the popular vote.

“I think the time has come for proportional representation to be introduced throughout the UK for Parliamentary and local elections.

“Our democratic system depends on a strong government with a strong opposition.”

He added: “National government and local government need to reflect the public mood. If they don’t then difficulties arise.”

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