Quality is a concern

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I find it strange to talk in terms of ethics or morals when talking about political majorities (Letters May 6),the process is called democracy and we choose to use a first past the post system.

This year in South Tyneside there were 21,836 votes cast for Labour and 16,635 votes cast for other parties. It is the first past the post system which means that the others did not win any representation. It is the subversion of democracy which I find reprehensible: parties not fielding candidates in every ward because they ‘can’t win’ thus denying choice to the electorate, deals done behind closed doors to minimise the number and range of candidates, again denying choice, and, with a turnout of only 33.8% at this latest local election, an electorate which has little interest in how they are governed.

However, it is not the numbers in opposition which matter, but the quality of their contribution which counts. The late Coun Jim Capstick, a lone Progressive voice, always came to budget meetings with constructive alternative proposals which were duly considered and often taken up.

Democracy needs thriving political parties representing a wide range of opinion, fielding a full slate of candidates, focussing on issues rather than personalities, and an electorate facing up to their responsibilities as citizens.