Pressure grows for Labour to back Proportional Representation ahead of crunch manifesto meeting

Amid talk of Brexit pacts and tactical voting, is it time for Labour to back a different electoral system?

Labour parliamentary candidates and peers, unionists, academics, celebrities and more than 9,000 activists are the latest to sign an open letter calling on the Labour Party to make votes matter.

At Make Votes Matter, we’re calling for Labour to get behind a fairer voting system.

It’s glaringly obvious that our First Past the Post voting system is broken. From electoral pacts to tactical voting, this election is set to be decided by tactics rather than the will of the people – and there’s every possibility we’ll end up being governed by a party most voters rejected at the ballot box. It’s time for the Labour Party to break it’s silence on electoral reform.

Our ask is simple: that Labour commits to reviewing the voting system for general elections if it gets into power. The Labour Party wants to transform British society in the interests of the many. This can only happen by bringing in a voting system that puts power in the hands of the many, not the few.

Some of the signatories so far include Labour parliamentary candidates Alex Sobel, Ruth Cadbury, Darren Jones, David Drew, Helen Hayes and Stephen Kinnock. Musician Billy Bragg, the National President of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union Ian Hodson, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, and leading academic Noam Chomsky have also signed it. A full list of signatories is available on Make Votes Matter’s website.

Representatives from Make Votes Matter will hand in the letter on Saturday outside Labour’s Clause V manifesto meeting.

The letter states:

The Labour Party has nothing to fear from a voting system that ensures Parliament closely reflects the balance of opinion held by the British people.

We support Make Votes Matter’s campaign for proportional representation. We believe Labour should fight for PR and we are not alone.

Seventy-eight Constituency Labour Parties and two affiliated unions have formally called for PR in the last two years. But, at the very least, Labour must now commit to reviewing the voting system in our planned Constitutional Convention.

The Brexit crisis has tested our constitution to near destruction, bitterly divided the country, and left millions feeling unrepresented at Westminster. We cannot simply hope that politics goes back to normal. We must lead the way to a democratic rebirth; transforming the political paralysis of recent years into a modern, dynamic and optimistic democracy for the many, not the few. The countries that come closest to this ideal all achieved what they have through systems of Proportional Representation.

Including electoral reform in the remit of the Convention is a small clarification that could make a huge difference. Not only will it show Labour is serious about democratising the UK, but it will help attract the votes needed to see off a Conservative majority. Most importantly, it promises an exciting opportunity for citizens to consider, deliberate, and decide for themselves how the House of Commons should be elected.

We call on Labour to pledge that the Constitutional Convention will review the voting system in the forthcoming manifesto. 

And if you want to add your name to the letter, there is still time to sign in the hope of getting a commitment from Labour to review the voting system in the party’s manifesto. Sign the letter to the Labour Party today and let’s win real democracy.

Some of the signatories so far include:

  • Alex Sobel Labour, Labour parliamentary candidate for Leeds North West
    Billy Bragg, Activist and musician
    Darren Jones, Labour parliamentary candidate for Bristol North West, Convenor of the Future Britain Group
  • David Drew, Labour parliamentary candidate for Stroud
  • Helen Hayes, Labour parliamentary candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood
  • Ian Hodson, National President of Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
    Nadia Whittome, Labour parliamentary candidate for Nottingham East
  • Neal Lawson, Compass
  • Noam Chomsky, Academic
  • Polly Toynbee, Guardian Columnist
  • Ruth Cadbury, Labour parliamentary candidate for Brentford and Isleworth
  • Stephen Kinnock, Labour parliamentary candidate for Aberavon
  • Ann Black, Labour Party NEC member 2000-2018
  • Ben Bradshaw, Labour parliamentary candidate for Exeter
    Charlotte Cornell, Labour parliamentary candidate for Dover
  • Huw Irranca-Davies Labour Welsh Assembly Member for Ogmore
  • Lord Jeffrey William Rooker, Labour peer
  • John Griffiths, Welsh Assembly Member for Newport East 
  • John Grogan, Labour parliamentary candidate for Keighley
  • Jon Cruddas, Labour parliamentary candidate for Dagenham and Rainham
  • Justin Madders, Labour parliamentary candidate for Ellesmere Port and Neston
  • Lizzi Collinge, Labour parliamentary candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale
  • Nic Dakin, Labour parliamentary candidate for Scunthorpe
  • Dr Paul Williams, Labour parliamentary candidate for Stockton South
  • Lord Raymond Plant, Labour peer
  • Rachael Maskell, Labour parliamentary candidate for York Central
  • Robin McAlpine, Director of Common Weal 
  • Sandy Martin, Labour parliamentary candidate for Ipswich 
  • Sarah Church, Labour parliamentary candidate for Swindon South
  • Simon Letts, Labour parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen

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8 Responses to “Pressure grows for Labour to back Proportional Representation ahead of crunch manifesto meeting”

  1. Dave Roberts

    Be careful what you wish for. PR means there will never again be a Labour government.

  2. John Erskine

    Get real. Labour’s permanent Scottish collapse and Scottish independence mean the end for Labour-majority government. The question for English Labour is how we can change the electoral system, and when we’ve done so, how we change our political approach to ensure we can form stable governing coalitions.

  3. Gary

    Let’s not forget that this was already put before the public in a referendum only a few years ago and was roundly rejected. This idea, using FPTP to elect a party who will implement it WITHOUT reference to the people is as undemocratic as the current system and would unfairly impose it on an unwilling public.

    I’m making no points for or against PR myself, I’m simply saying that it’s been rejected and that doing t by the backdoor using the FPTP system goes against what it’s proponents believe, why compromise yourself when you could reach out to the public direct?

    Even MORE important than this though is the need to restructure Westminster so that democracy extends to The Lords – in the 21st Century we STILL have hereditary peers and appointees making decisions using statutory instruments and rejecting bills that were passed democratically. We DON’T yet live in a democracy – but no one mentions it. Just as important is our need for a written constitution. We’ve never had one, but always needed one. The major parties have used and abused this for centuries. Legally The Queen can overturn laws or refuse to sign them off, convention is all that stands between that and democracy. This should end immediately. It HAS been abused both in the 20th and 21st century. Simply put, we need RULES for the politicians, they can’t be trusted to act honourably as we well know.

    Finally, a small point you may think but at the top of the article it says “unionists” when, I imagine, the author means union leaders or members. The term ‘unionist’ has VERY different connotations in both Scotland and NI and in NO country does it refer to being part of a trade union – please correct this, TIA…

  4. Ross

    I feel I should point out that PR has not in fact been voted on, much less rejected by the public. AV was rejected, but AV is not PR.

  5. Chris Millman

    After all the bullying of Green candidates to stand down, this is the one policy that would induce me to vote Labour.

Comments are closed.