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Single transferable parties Jan 30

Damian Hockney, elected as a UKIP London Assembly member, has defected to Veritas. Although the new party has yet to be officially launched, Kilroy has appointed him deputy leader.

As if the Right wasn’t already split enough between UKIP and the Tories, there is now another party in the ring. This will be seriously damaging to UKIP; its effect on the Tories probably won’t be seen until the General Election.

This defection demonstrates, once again, the problem of using “closed list” proportional representation. Hockney was elected based on UKIP’s votes across London. He was positioned on the UKIP party “top-up” list by UKIP itself. Although voters would have known the names on the list (and Hockney was top), the votes were cast for UKIP. The only votes cast directly for Hockney were in the West Central constituency seat – where he came fifth.

That’s not to say he should resign his seat. He’s not required to and he wouldn’t be able to fight a by-election as he would be automatically replaced by a new UKIP assembly member. But this shows why the single transferable vote, with a choice of individual candidates rather than just party names, is still the way to go.

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