What if Medway Council had Proportional Representation?

The following piece makes the assumption that voting intention for Medway’s local elections in 2015 would have been the same under PR as FPTP. Whilst I’m open to the idea that this wouldn’t be the case (it almost certainly wouldn’t be -Jennings), this is the data I have to work with.

The essential principle is:
1 seat ward – Nearest to 100% wins a seat
2 seat ward – Nearest to 50% wins a seat
3 seat ward – Nearest to 33% wins a seat

Later, we will also look at a list system based on average votes across medway

If you are unable to make the leap this requires, stop reading, as you are unlikely to engage with the result. If however, you read on, then I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Results data taken from www.medwayelects.co.uk, with thanks to Alan Collins.

Current Council : Conservatives 36, Labour 15, UKIP 3, Independent 1

For a possible, unlikely, interpretation of a PR Result, read on…

Chatham Central
Labour 34.9% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.8% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 20.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 1Labour 1UKIP 1

Cuxton and Halling
Conservatives 53.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 2Labour 1UKIP 1

Gillingham North
Labour 33% = 1 Seat
UKIP 27.2% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 20.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 3Labour 2UKIP 2

Gillingham South
Labour 29.6% = 1 Seat
UKIP 23.9% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 21.9% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 4Labour 3UKIP 3

Hempstead and Wigmore
Conservatives 77.7% = 1 Seats
(Con 27.7% Remainder) = 1 Seat
Labour 17% = 0 Seats

Running Total: Conservatives 6Labour 3UKIP 3

Lordswood and Capstone
Conservative 66.3% = 1 Seat
(Con 16.3% Remainder) = 0 Seats
Labour 27.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 7Labour 4UKIP 3

Luton and Wayfield
Labour 36% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 32.2% = 1 Seat
UKIP 26.2% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 8Labour 5UKIP 4

UKIP 36.8% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 36.1% = 1 Seat
Labour 15.2% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 9Labour 6UKIP 5

Princes Park
Conservatives 46.1% = 1 Seat
UKIP 27.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 10Labour 6UKIP 6

Rainham Central
Conservatives 48.4% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.5% = 1 Seat
(Conservative Remainder 15.4%) = 1 Seat
Labour 14.9% = 0 Seats

Running Total: Conservatives 12Labour 6UKIP 7

Rainham North
Conservatives 47.7% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 13Labour 6UKIP 8

Rainham South
Conservatives 46.5% = 1 Seat
UKIP 26.2% = 1 Seat
Labour 20.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 14Labour 7UKIP 9

Conservatives 41.1% = 1 Seat
Labour 27.4% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 15Labour 8UKIP 9

Rochester East
Labour 37.1% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 25.9% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 16Labour 9UKIP 9

Rochester South and Horsted
Conservatives 38.4% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.2% = 1 Seat
Labour 20.7% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 17Labour 10UKIP 10

Rochester West
Conservatives 42.3% = 1 Seat
Labour 21.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 18Labour 11UKIP 10

Strood North
Conservatives 36.4% = 1 Seat
Labour 25.8% = 1 Seat
UKIP 25% 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 19Labour 12UKIP 11

Strood Rural
Conservatives 41% = 1 Seat
UKIP 35.1% = 1 Seat
(Conservative remainder 8%) = 0 Seat
Labour 16% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 20Labour 13UKIP 12

Strood South
UKIP 37.4% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 34.5% = 1 Seat
Labour 25.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 21Labour 14UKIP 13

Labour 40.8% = 1 Seat
(Labour Remainder 7.8%) = 0 Seat
Conservatives 36.8% = 1 Seat
Greens 11% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 22Greens 1Labour 15UKIP 13  

Conservatives 46.1% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.6% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 23, Greens 1Labour 15UKIP 14

Conservatives 41.1% = 1 Seat
Liberal Democrats 22.9% = 1 Seat

Total: Conservatives 24, Greens 1Labour 15, Liberal Democrats 1UKIP 14

Whilst this dramatically reduces the Conservative majority, in favour of UKIP, they would have a councillor in every ward. The majority of wards would have a mixed party of councillors representing them. The council would also benefit from having Green and Liberal Democrat voices represented.

I don’t want to cast aspersions with regard to the benefits of certain individuals who would not currently be councillors. I would like to say there was some potentially good individuals who are not currently councillors, who in this mix, would have been.

PART TWO: The List

Based on available data of voter averages from May 2015
Conservatives 32.8%
UKIP 24.2%
Labour 21.3%
Greens 8.1%
Liberal Democrats 7.1%
Independents 4.2%
TUSC 2.3%

Total Seats: Conservatives 18, Greens 5Labour 12, Liberal Democrats 4, TUSC 1UKIP 13, Independent 2

With a result that would reduce the main parties this much and increase the UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Greens result, you can understand why there is such an establishment reaction against PR.

But we can say it’s because of the maths.

Also any result that could lead to TUSC winning a seat, despite having a Zero Vote Ward in Rainham North, is clearly flawed and the system should stay the representative FPTP..

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

The Week in Medway Politics: Ofsted, Oldham, and alcohol

Medway MPs in Parliament

Out of a maximum of 4 votes in Parliament this week, the Medway MP vote tally was as follows:
Rehman Chishti (Gillingham & Rainham) – 3 votes
Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester & Strood) – 3 votes
Tracey Crouch (Chatham & Aylesford) – 2 votes

Elsewhere in Parliament
Kelly Tolhurst asked a meaningless question about Syria, and asked about job losses at the Chatham HMRC site, while Rehman Chishti banged on yet again about what to call Islamic State. Meanwhile, Tracey Crouch ended up answering a lot of questions about the Big Lottery Fund.

Medway Council

OFSTED report
An Ofsted report into Children’s Services in Medway has ranked them as ‘requires improvement’. Medway Council post an article on this with the title ‘Ofsted report confirms Medway’s children’s services are improving‘. Impressive chutzpah.

Airport action
There’s an apparent “jobs boost” for Medway as Rochester Airport has been granted Enterprise Zone status. At least it kind of has. Along with half the other places in Kent.

Traffic fines
Some FOI digging has revealed that Medway Council has raised almost £1 million in traffic fines since 2013, a number all the more staggering given they only have 5 active cameras.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Missing, because why do they need to actively do anything given the state of the Labour Party?

Medway Labour
The party responded to the Autumn Statement. You’ll be shocked to discover they weren’t happy about it. They’re also a bit grumpy about the Ofsted thing.
The Medway Labour away team also took a trip up to sunny Oldham this week to campaign for this coming week’s by-election.

Medway UKIP
Not specifically Medway related, but UKIP have now selected a candidate for next year’s Police & Crime Commissioner elections.

Medway Liberal Democrats
The party held their AGM this week, and apparently had a record turn out. They even needed extra chairs and plates. Bless.

Medway Green Party
The Green took the bold step of coming out in support of Chatham’s new distillery, and made a pretty good joke about a new council office that would make it even harder for the public to ask questions.

Medway TUSC
Medway TUSC reemerged this week to get a bit annoyed that they weren’t invited to a Young Person’s Question Time. As you do.

Other News

Rochester Town Council
The campaign for a Rochester Town Council held their ‘Making It Happen’ meeting this week. Jennings went along and live tweeted it, and left believing that it’s now more likely than not to happen.

Rehman About Town
This week, Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti has managed to have his photo taken with a microphone, the Ambassador of Bahrain, the High Commissioner of Pakistan, the Chairman of Senate of Pakistan, some constituents in Parliament, Big Ben on BBC News, Big Ben on ITV News, some guide dogs at Dobbies, the local Conservatives ladies lunch, Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, the Managing Director of Southeastern, several pensioners advising him on how to bomb Syria, the Hempstead Christmas tree lighting, and some Gurdwara celebrations. He seems to take more pictures of himself every week.

The Week in Medway Politics: Candidates, housing, and buffets.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Out of the 7 votes in Parliament this week, Rehman Chishti voted in 4 of them, Tracey Crouch in 5 of them, and Kelly Tolhurst in 5 of them.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Kelly Tolhurst asked a meaningless question about policing, and Rehman Chishti banged on about calling Islamic State ‘Daesh’ again. Tracey Crouch, in her role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Culture, Media, and Sport answered lots of questions about betting and gave some fantastic statistics about how many people visit the seaside.

Medway Council

Vaping violators
This week, the council sent trading standards officers to visit 8 vaping shops around Medway, and found 7 of them sold items they shouldn’t to children. They’ll be sorting this out by sending them each a sternly worded letter.

Housing headaches
Medway Council agreed planning permission for 131 new houses near Chattenden, despite the usual NIMBY opposition. Given Medway needs to build tens of thousands of houses in the coming years, expect lots more of these battles in the future.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
The Conservatives have selected Matthew Scott as their candidate for Kent Police & Crime Commissioner. His experience of policing seems to consist of the fact his family have been police officers.

Medway Labour
After weeks of mysteriously talking about policing issues and holding various policing related meetings, Luton and Wayfield Councillor Tristan Osborne announced he was indeed running to be the Labour candidate for Kent Police & Crime Commissioner. He at least has experience of being a Special Constable, which makes him marginally more qualified than Matthew Scott.

Medway UKIP
Still missing, presumably still not entirely sure what they should be doing.

Medway Liberal Democrats
This week Medway Lib Dem anger is focussed on cuts to policing.
If you fancy a party and a half, members are invited to their AGM at the swanky Roffen Club on Thursday, where there will be (brace yourself) both a buffet and a social. Phew!

Medway Green Party
The Greens seem to be the only Medway party taking a position on a potential lower Thames Crossing. Of course, they’re opposed.

Medway TUSC
Still missing, presumably still hunting for their missing votes.

Other News

Rochester Town Council
The campaign to create a Town Council for Rochester rolls on. The petition signatures have been collected and handed in, so what’s next? The organisers are holding an open meeting tomorrow (Monday) night for anyone wanting to find out more, suggest ideas, or get involved with the campaign.

Rehman About Town
This week, Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti has managed to have his photo taken with someone from the Howard School, a microphone, the Daily Politics green screen, some rather baffling framed photos, some folks at a charity reception, some quality desks, a bunch of young Tories, someone from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, a present as big as himself, and new Police & Crime Commissioner candidate Matthew Scott. Crikey.

The Curious Case of Fergus Wilson

You may or may not have heard of Fergus Wilson. He’s one of the biggest buy-to-let landlords in Kent, and has a reputation for doing lovely things like selling as many properties to foreign investors as he can and bumping up rents on those in his properties by large sums. Then, a few months ago, he decided to announce that he was running to be Kent’s elected Police & Crime Commissioner. In it’s own right, that isn’t the most exciting news we’ve covered, but he did so like this:

Fergus Wilson

There’s just so many competing elements here that it’s hard not to be overwhelmed. An announcement of candidacy? Check! Something vaguely resembling a policy on Operation Stack? Check! Wishing England well in the Rugby World Cup? Sure! A photo with a former rugby player? Why the hell not?

The thing is, it didn’t really stop there. Ads like this kept appearing in the Medway Messenger (and presumably other local Kent titles). The next ad went back to Operation Stack again and for some reason a picture of Geoff Hurst and a frankly baffling policy to use sports stars to solve Kent’s problems:
Fergus Wilson

Things really hit a crescendo with this incredible piece of work that demanding people stop hitting women and Frank Bruno. On top of this, we’re treated to an offer that Fergus would let you touch his championship belt if you promise not to hit women. What the hell is going on?

And then, just as suddenly, the ads stopped appearing. Surely nothing could stop this incredible individual from his campaign to take control of Kent’s police? Well, an unfortunate spot of legal bother could. You’re not allowed to be a Police & Crime Commissioner if you’ve been convicted of an imprisonable offence, and as Fergus punched an estate agent in 2013, he’s unable to hold the post.

Which should have been the end of the saga…

And Yet…

This happened:

Fergus Wilson

Given this ad talks about the Police & Crime Commissioner election, goes through the Operation Stack routine again, and proclaiming “back me or sack me”, the impression is given that Fergus Wilson has given himself the role of Police & Crime Commissioner without any silly election.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at the current state of Kent’s Police & Crime Commissioner candidates, because Fergus Wilson somehow isn’t the most bizarre.

The Week in Medway Politics: Bungalows, commissioners, apologies

Medway MPs in Parliament

Parliament was in recess this week, so our MPs haven’t been up to much there, but that didn’t stop Tracey Crouch getting herself into trouble (see below).

Medway Council

Bungalow Bonanza
Medway Council has begun the ‘largest council-built bungalow development’ in the UK. The ‘largest’ being a grand total of 32 dwellings. Which is nice and all, but Medway has thousands on it’s housing waiting lists.

Local Plan
Medway Council will soon beginning drawing up a new local plan, identifying development sites for the coming years. Which will definitely go well.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
The Conservatives have announced their shortlist for their candidate to be Kent Police and Crime Commissioner next year. None of the names on the list are particularly relevant to Medway.

Medway Labour
The party have taken the opportunity to crow that changes to Sunday trading rules have been delayed. Despite the fact Scotland has more relaxed Sunday trading, the SNP have decided to block such moves for the rest of us. Ain’t democracy grand?

Medway UKIP
Missing, presumably not entirely sure what they should be doing.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Missing, presumed ignored.

Medway Green Party
The Greens have called for a Medway cabinet portfolio holder to be dedicated to rural areas, wildlife, biodiversity, and all that kind of stuff.
Apparently they’ve also been canvassing in Rochester. Has anyone actually spotted ’em?

Medway TUSC
Still missing, presumably still hunting for their missing votes.

Other News

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch gave a fairly wide ranging and interesting interview to the Spectator, and in one fairly throwaway section, suggesting that certain constituents who are struggling financially should perhaps give up things like Sky TV. Cue the usual outrage machine going into overdrive, followed by the inevitable apology.

Rehman About Town
This week, Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti has managed to have his photo taken with constituents Colin and Carol, the High Commissioner of Bruneiradiographers from Kent Oncology Centre, a distillery with Kelly Tolhurst, stuffed toys at the Women’s Institute, a church Santa, some men at a football match, and folks at the Medway Hindu Temple. Even on his week off, Rehman doesn’t fail to get around.

The Week in Medway Politics: Fireworks, anger, and beer

A fairly quiet week, but this is whats been happening in Medway politics in the last seven days..

Medway MPs in Parliament

Slow week
Nothing much happened from a Medway perspective in Parliament this week. Tracey Crouch answered some questions, Kelly Tolhurst brought up immigration, and all three MPs voted in every vote they were able to.

Medway Council

Seemingly the only thing Medway Council has been focusing on this week is blowing up a bit of the sky on Saturday. They did it pretty well though.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Missing, presumed hibernating until April 2019.

Medway Labour
Medway Labour want some payday lenders hung, drawn, and quartered.
They also decided Remembrance Sunday would be a good time to make a political point about police cuts.

Medway UKIP
Former Medway UKIP candidate created a Twitter account just to tell us Medway UKIP are still active, but we still haven’t seen much proof of that.

Medway Liberal Democrats
This week they’re outraged about roaming charges and Right to Buy.
They also confirmed that they will fight the 2016 Kent Police and Crime Commissioner election, after not bothering in 2012.

Medway Green Party
After moaning at us last week for not checking their Facebook page, we’ve now learnt they’re unhappy about development in the Capstone Valley, and excited about a beer festival. Fair enough.

Medway TUSC
Still missing, presumably still hunting for their missing votes.

Other News

Rehman About Town
This week, Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti has managed to have his photo taken with Admiral Lord West, the team at St. Matthews Church, Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, Speaker John Bercow, staff and pupils at The Howard School, staff at Medway NHS Trust, the CEO of MHS Homes, a solitary constituent in Rainham, and Santa. Say what you want about Rehman, the man gets around.

Return of the Mackness

We kind of thought we’d be done writing about the restriction of public questions at Medway Council. We did our little experiment, published our thoughts more than once, and the whole thing was inevitably waved through at last month’s council meeting. So imagine our surprise when Cllr Andrew Mackness, the portfolio holder behind the changes, got in touch following the vote to comment on our approach. His statement is presented below, unedited:

I can appreciate the frustration of running a political blog and only getting a limited response from members, I really can. I would also note that any resident committing time to blogging about local government should be commended. Not least the commitment to still be at full council going into the 5th day of Local Democracy week!
However, it is disingenuous to infer that because members haven’t responded to an overtly political blog that they are not responding to constituents. I am sure that my colleagues from across the chamber won’t mind me saying that the great majority of ward work is apolitical and that as a ward councillor you don’t assess a case for its political volatility or opportunity to score points. Having just given evidence to the Independent Remuneration Panel, when their report comes out, I understand it will have an analysis of the time commitments made by ward councillors. I hope that this will be a more concrete form of evidence than a round robin email. When it comes out, I would be happy to bring the report to your attention, if this would be of help.

We appreciate the fact that Cllr Mackness has taken time to respond to us on this issue, but unfortunately, we also feel we must take issue with some points he raises.

We accept that a “round robin” email isn’t a good way to assess how well councillors are doing their jobs, nor was it necessarily supposed to prove that one way or the other. The intent behind our experiment was to simply see how likely one was to get a response, as email has often been cited as an alternative option given the removal of questions in the chamber.

The problem here is the removal of the public record. Of course this kind of email isn’t an ideal way to see how well a councillor does their job, and nor should it be, but when the on the record options in the chamber was severely restricted, exactly how else are we supposed to judge how responsive a councillor is? We know a good number of councillors from all parties go considerably above and beyond their duties, just as we know there are some that don’t. The issue is that as each aspect of public scrutiny is removed, it becomes increasingly difficult for the average member of the public to gauge how much their councillor is doing.

It’s also disappointing that we’re being painted as an “overtly political blog”, though we’re not entirely sure how to be a covertly political blog. We have stances, but we have gone to great lengths to engage and give a platform to parties and politicians of all stripes. Even if Cllr Mackness feels we don’t deserve to be regarded as press when it comes to politics in Medway, it’s unfortunate that we weren’t seen as deserving as answers as residents either.

We’ll be very happy to look at (and cover) the findings of the Independent Renumeration Panel on how much councillors are doing, in the same way we’re happy to look at anything that gives us a glimpse into how councillors are or are not performing. Until then though, we’ll go on the evidence we’ve managed to collect so far.

Unless something changes in the coming months, this will likely be the last gasp of the public questions issue for now.

The Week in Medway Politics: By-election, snow, and tampons

Just time for a quick round-up of the week’s events in Medway politics..

Medway MPs in Parliament

Tampon tax
All three Medway MPs voted to maintain sanitary products as “non-essential luxury items”. All three have since defended their vote, arguing it’s not as clear cut as it appears, and you can read their responses here: Rehman Chishti, Tracey Crouch, Kelly Tolhurst.

Rehman Chishti introduced a brief debate in the Commons on the nature of the UK’s support for Pakistan, which you can read in full here.

Medway Council

Cuxton by-election
A parish by-election this week in Cuxton, where a straight two-way battle was fought between independent candidate Tracy Thorley and Conservative candidate (and former Mayor of Medway) Josie Iles. In the end, it wasn’t even remotely a close run contest, with Thorley defeating Iles with 434 votes to 90.

Snow wardens
Medway Council is seeking volunteers to clear snow because they can’t manage it themselves.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
All quiet – there’s no elections on for another four years now.

Medway Labour
This week they have they threatened to hold the Conservative cabinet to account. Somehow.
They’ve written to Sajid Javid to demand it remains impossible to get a pint of milk or a prescription on a Sunday evening.
They apparently support the council’s Cycling Action Plan. The council has a Cycling Action Plan?
Former parliamentary candidate Tristan Osborne is very unhappy about Police & Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes, which is nothing to do with the position being up for election next year. Certainly not.

Medway UKIP
Missing, presumed confused.

Medway Liberal Democrats
They’re outraged about some rubbish that wasn’t collected until they reported and then it was. Alrighty then.
They’re also outraged about the changes to public questions, but then who isn’t?

Medway Green Party
Missing, presumed defected to Labour.

Medway TUSC
Missing, presumably searching for missing votes.

Other News

Rehman’s About Town
This week, Rehman Chishti has managed to have his photo taken with scouts in Hempstead, students at MidKent College, poppy sellers in Gillingham, his own face, the team from Kings Treasure Church, more poppy sellers, and, er, Lembit Opik. Phew!