Andy Burnham urges Labour to adopt proportional representation

'I think we need to change the House of Commons as well, I think we need voting reform.'

Andy Burnham

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has urged the Labour Party to adopt proportional representation (PR) as part of Labour’s plans for a “radical rewiring of Britain”.

The Labour Party has already pledged a number of radical reforms to how UK democracy works, including replacing the House of Lords with a directly elected senate for the UK’s nations and regions.

Burnham however wants the party to go even further.

Speaking at the Making Britain Work for Scotland event, Burnham told the audience in Edinburgh on Thursday evening that ensuring MPs were elected using a system that accurately reflected voters’ wishes would prevent a party chosen by a minority of voters having complete power at Westminster.

He said: “I think we need to change the House of Commons as well, I think we need voting reform.

“I don’t believe all people in all places will be equally represented in Westminster until every vote matters.”

Although the Labour Party conference last year overwhelmingly backed a motion calling on the party to embrace a proportional electoral system, the leadership has made clear that it would not do as the motion says.

Burnham has made no secret of his support for PR, telling Sky News last month that the current first-past-the-post voting system hands more power to the establishment than MPs or people and changing the system to proportional representation would mean “every vote would matter”.

He told Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday show: “When you step outside of Westminster and you look at things afresh and I’ve looked at how power doesn’t really flow properly throughout this country. The First Past the Post system hands more power to the establishment than MPs or people. I think PR would put the people much more in control, every vote would matter.

“I’ve come round I’ve got the zeal of the convert, I personally believe if you’re really going to make this country work properly for all people and all places, it’s a combination of proportional representation for the Commons, a senate of the nations and regions to replace the unelected Lords, because how can it be right in this day and age that all places aren’t represented equally in our national parliament and then thirdly I would have maximum devolution of power to the regional or city regional level like we’ve got in Manchester.

“That would make the country work much better and make it much fairer for everybody and I would like to see that agenda not taken off the table.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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