Local Elections 2024

It’s obvious that the Tories are out of touch, out of ideas, and out of road.

They have increasingly limited options – and changing the voting system for Mayoral elections and voter ID were textbook attempts to consolidate their grip on power through gerrymandering and voter suppression.

But what comes next is still to fight for. Nothing is promised.

Thursday’s results show that the Tories are collapsing and Labour is likely on course to win a majority at the next general election. This is nothing new.

But these results also give us a glimpse of the underlying multi-party reality that is struggling to break free from the straitjacket of our two-party system. 

Where voters have the chance they are backing progressive candidates that put place – not party – first.

There is a clear appetite for change – but this pluralist progressive majority doesn’t translate to parliament because votes are shoved through FPTP.

If Labour wins the general election, as these results suggest they will, it won’t be a wholesale endorsement of their political project. It will be a multi-party vote squashed and contorted through the meatgrinder of First Past the Post.

Labour should reach out to other parties and start exploring areas of communality now, such as on climate, inequality, and housing.

This would enable them to better acknowledge the lent support of other parties to more effectively encompass the views of the progressive majority when in government.

🗣️ The Key Results 🗣️

Five out of five councils the Tories retained control of on Thursday remained tragedy councils where they hold power without a majority of the vote. 

In Hastings and Bristol, the Greens became the largest party on the council in a key Labour target seat for the General Election. This momentous result shows that when progressives offer credible, bold action on climate & democracy, voters will back them.

But we’re never far away from the effect of First Past the Post – in these races FPTP amplified the significance of a few local election results and ensured that a few races and voters have an outsized influence on our national political debate, none more so than in the West Midlands and the Tees Valley mayoral races.

Despite today’s local election results showing that Labour can expect to do well at the general election, they also highlighted that FPTP incentivises Labour to appeal to the lowest possible number of voters.

In the newly created mayoral authority of York and North Yorkshire, the party’s candidate won despite only receiving 35% of the vote.

In Suella Braverman’s backyard, there was a progressive tragedy as the Tories held Fareham Borough Council, but on a minority of the vote. They now have 71% of the seats on just 46% of the popular vote. This is what happens when we have an unequal voting system, and progressives don’t work together.

In the North East mayoral election, Kim McGuinness won for Labour, with Compass member and former mayor Jamie Driscoll coming second. 

As pluralists, we want to see healthy competition as well as healthy cooperation at all levels of politics. 

But First Past the Post militates against that, and tilts the scales in favour of established parties with strong brands, money and airtime.

Jamie won almost as many votes as the Tories, Greens, Lib Dems and Reform put together. His campaign showed what a strong, people-powered campaign with democracy at its core can achieve – even without the backing of an established party.

This race demonstrates that when you put participation at the heart of your campaign, you can make waves.  A commitment to genuine cooperation, and to changing the voting system, should form the core of any credible progressive’s offer to the people.

Ben Houchen was defending a large majority in the Tees Valley mayoral election, so it was always going to be a challenge to oust him. 

But, progressives could have united (as they have elsewhere) to challenge the Tories and maximise the anti-Tory vote. 


In the East Midlands mayoral election, Claire Ward of Labour defeated Conservative MP Ben Bradley. When Claire was in Parliament, she supported fair votes and we have already been putting pressure on her to commit to supporting further democratic reform.

West Oxfordshire once again voted against handing the Tories control of the district council. We hope that the ‘West Oxfordshire Alliance’ will continue to lead the council and deliver a bold, transformative agenda for local people.

Cllr Andy Graham, the Liberal Democrat leader of the council, appeared on our Local Leaders Spotlight podcast last month, where he warned against splitting the progressive vote.

In Basingstoke, the Women’s Equality Party won their first ever borough council seat, with another guest on our Local Leaders Spotlight, Paul Harvey, commenting:

“It’s a wonderful result. It’s great to see so many progressive councillors being elected from across the political spectrum who have come together and want to do something incredibly positive for the community.”

In London, Sadiq won a third term. Progressive voters clearly heeded Sadiq Khan’s appeal to Liberal Democrat and Green voters to get him over the line.

We should celebrate the alliance of progressive voters uniting behind Sadiq, but forcing people to vote just to keep the right out is driving distrust, alienation, and short-termism in our politics. That’s the reality under FPTP.

During the campaign, Sadiq recognised that the change to first-past-the-post for mayoral elections this time around made progressive vote-splitting a potential problem for his re-election bid.

That’s a stepping stone – he’s identified a problem in our democracy but only focused on how it affects him in this one race. We want him to join his colleagues and advocate for the solution for everyone at every election – electoral reform.

All votes should be genuinely earned, genuinely meant, and genuinely count. That means democratic renewal, starting with proportional representation.

We look forward to working with the mayors and councillors elected today to build toward that reality.

5 thoughts on “Local Elections 2024

  1. Choice is between Proportional Representation and Disproportional Representation aka FPTP.

  2. I live near Hartlepool and have no voter ID so I didn’t vote, voting seems a pointless exercise with First Past the Post, the choice in Hartlepool is simply Tory or Tory Lite (Labour).

    If there was PR I would vote for a progressive party such as the Greens or liberals. Without PR my vote is totally wasted and I am no longer willing to participate in the charade.

  3. Just shows how badly we need to rid ourselves of FPTP and bring PR in. The Labour Party and others need to get Keir Stammer to listen. A true commitment now by him to change from FPTP to PR would ensure he wins the 2024 General Election, then he needs to bring the change in immediately he is elected. No referendum this time as as the Tory Press will go into overdrive to stop it happening!

  4. It’s all very depressing, this constant ping-pong between left and right, which serves us so badly. This country is going nowhere until we get rid of FPTP. It’s good (provisionally) that the Tories have been routed, but after paying some lip-service to PR in the last few months, Starmer, while heading for a massive majority, will conveniently forget all he has said – even though UNISON embraces it.
    We chatted to our LibDem candidate for MP recently and when asked “How do you feel about PR?”, she said without hesitation: “We whole-heartedly welcome it, it will lead to a revolution in British Politics. But to get it taken seriously in the next Parliament we will have work on the Labour Party!”

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