Business Votes: Power Without Responsibility

On this blog the undemocratic nature of business votes has been addressed a number of times. In terms of both democratic accountability and really caring about what is best for an area, it is both normal and desirable for local councillors to live in the administrative district they represent and to be elected by those who live there. Since business voters who don’t live in the City of London control 80% of the seats on this council, and many of those elected to it live outside its boundaries, there is little accountability and this particular municipality is a complete failure in terms of democratic local government. That said, beyond this there are other issues with regard to business votes that we haven’t yet addressed, and one of these is that those who have them aren’t obliged to participate in the civic duty of jury service, as is the case with all other voters. This is yet another unfair anomaly of the business vote system.

The City of London council keeps the vast majority of its voters off the electoral roll and instead places them on what it calls the ward list. Those drawn for jury service come solely from among the few thousand residents in the area who are on the electoral roll. The ward list system ensures that the roughly 32,000 business voters who are placed on the ward list but not the electoral roll are NOT considered for jury service! Given that business voters are privileged to vote both where they work and where they live (assuming they have placed themselves on the electoral roll where they live) it would only seem reasonable that they are considered for jury service both where they work and where they live.

This jury service anomaly shows once again not only how undemocratic but also how unfair the business vote system is, and provides yet another reason – as if one was needed – for the business vote in the City of London to be abolished. No where else in the UK has business votes and this local authority should be brought in line with all its neighbours. Likewise given the small resident population in the City of London, it would be more appropriate for the area to have around 2 councillors to represents its interests, rather than the 125 that currently do this job.

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