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Labour pressed for City elections to go ahead, grandees took fright

It is no surprise that at the September Court of Common Council City of London representatives decided to delay the next elections to May 2022. This means that as things stand the elections will not be at the same time as the London mayoral election, which represents a lost opportunity to increase turnout.

Low turnout was indeed the justification for the decision. With offices empty, City of London officials predicted an (even lower) turnout than usual. As it is the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. Elected officials will now serve for a year without any electoral mandate whatsoever, a decision without exception in peacetime. Cripplegate Alderman David Graves, for example, will serve for almost 2 years without electoral endorsement (his election ought to have taken place this summer).

It is tempting to wonder whether the City might well have been able to hold the elections in May. After all, the United States are holding its Presedential and Congressional elections before Christmas. Nevertheless, the attention given to democratic procedure and increasing turnout is welcome. The current system needs urgent reform. Employers allocate votes on behalf of their employees in 80% of the constituencies of the City of London (“the business vote”), and almost a quarter of the Common Council representatives across the City are elected without contest. With this new-found enthusiasm for turnout and democracy, the City might soon embark on doing the right thing and implementing one worker one vote across the business wards.

In the meantime, and at a moment of unparalleled crisis, voters are being given no say whatsoever in what decisions the City makes at this crossroads. May voters remember this come the eventual elections.

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