Make Votes Matter campaigner Steve Lambert makes the case for Proportional Representation
The case for reform of Britain’s voting system has been made by a well-known radical activist, who once said: “The present system has clearly broken down. The results produced are not fair to any party, nor to any section of the community. In many cases they do not secure majority representation, nor do they secure an intelligent representation of minorities. All they secure is fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”
This activist’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Britain’s wartime leader recognised that our current First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system wasn’t designed for a country where most people have the vote.
Under FPTP, the share of seats in parliament do not match the share of votes. At the 2017 General Election the Conservatives got 42 percent of votes but 49 percent of seats, while some smaller parties by comparison won up to ten times as many votes for each seat they gained. It is an unfair system.
Make Votes Matter is a cross-party campaign to introduce Proportional Representation (PR) to the House of Commons. It is the principle that the seats parties win in a general election should be in proportion to the votes they receive.
We are now campaigning across the country to explain the basic unfairness of our electoral system to the public and put pressure on Members of Parliament to support voting reform. Scores of them have signed up to support us, including Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy. Unfortunately, Leyton MP John Cryer and Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith still oppose PR.
We have recently formed Make Votes Matter East London to focus our efforts on the issue locally, hoping to convince these MPs to change their position. We started with a stall outside Leytonstone Station in January, in John Cryer’s constituency, where we collected signatures on a petition that will eventually be presented to him. There will be more stalls in his area as well as elsewhere in East London.
While there are several different systems of PR, they all carry the basic principle that parties’ seats will be in proportion to their votes. The Make Votes Matter campaign does not favour any particular system of PR, only the principle itself. The vast majority of developed nations use forms of it, while new electoral systems introduced in the UK – such as for the Scottish Parliament, London Assembly, and European elections – have also adopted a PR voting system.
Research from around the world shows that countries using PR are more likely to have greater income equality, better long-term planning and political stability, fairer representation of women and minorities, and higher voter turnout. Polls consistently show that the majority of the public want PR, with the latest showing 67 percent think seats should match votes.
Like the fight to win votes for women 100 years ago, we believe now is the time to fight for a fair voting system.
To get involved with Make Votes Matter East London:
For more information on the campaign: