Why won’t this minister reply to half a million people demanding electoral reform?

Thousands write to John Penrose MP after he dismissed calls for proportional representation

John Penrose MP

John Penrose MP

Five thousand people have written the Minister for Constitutional Reform, John Penrose MP, demanding a proper reply to their half a million-strong petition for proportional representation after last year’s General Election.

Last June, after what was described as the ‘most disproportionate election in British history’, hundreds of thousands signed petitions to John Penrose MP calling for a fairer voting system, joined by five major parties.

However, signatories received this letter below, saying the public had ‘already had a referendum on’ PR – despite the 2011 referendum being on the non-proportional Alternative Vote system.

(Click to enlarge)

Penrose letter

Campaign group Make Votes Matter have now launched a letter-writing campaign to John Penrose calling for a proper response and action on proportional representation – a year on from receiving the Minister’s reply and failing to get a sufficient response.

Penrose wrote to MVM organiser Klina Jordan last month arguing that ‘a further referendum on an even bigger change to our voting system than AV would be hard to justify’ – but the campaigners argue he did not address any of their points on the failures of the current First Past the Post system.

Owen Winter, spokesperson for Make Votes Matter, told Left Foot Forward:

‘As the Minister for Constitutional Reform, John Penrose should at least be able to justify the government’s position on electoral reform, but so far he has failed to offer a reasonable defence of First Past the Post.

Our open letter aims to give those who signed the petitions a chance to hold the Minister to account.’

You can find out more about the Make Votes Matter campaign here.

Josiah Mortimer is a regular contributor to Left Foot Forward. You can follow him on Twitter@josiahmortimer.

3 Responses to “Why won’t this minister reply to half a million people demanding electoral reform?”

  1. Roy Boffy

    Why on Earth would another referendum be needed on PR? Hasn’t the current shambles put everyone off these pseudo-democratic devices for evermore? We pay politicians to exercise judgment and make difficult decisions on our behalf. That’s why it’s called a representative democracy. You argue your case, listen to the other side, then make your decision. That’s the idea anyway.

  2. Robert Williams

    I agree with Roger Boffy: for the kove of God no more referendums! The one going on now is humiliatingly squalid, and the 2011 electoral one was merely a trick the Tories played on their hapless Lib Dem sidekicks.

  3. Joe Sousek

    This letter has now been sent, with over 8,500 signatories: http://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/open-letter-to-cameron-penrose/

    To clarify for the above two posters, we’re not necessarily asking for a referendum, but we are asking for an electoral system that fairly represents the voters. Our present one does not. The introduction of PR to Scotland and Wales did not require a referendum. Neither did the introduction of votes for women. Introducing PR for the House of Commons needn’t have to either.

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