WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Labour can help bring our voting system into the 21st century

12 January, 2018

• OUR giant Christmas card asking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to support proportional representation was signed by 17,707 people, including 9,858 Labour voters, 3,323 Labour members and 221 of his constituents, mostly gathered on the streets of Islington on December 16.

When I spoke with Mr Corbyn on that day he agreed to meet these constituents to discuss PR. I hope to arrange the meeting.

Last week, Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, accused the Labour Party of gerrymandering because it may vote against proposed boundary reforms. Mr Skidmore claimed the current electoral system is biased in favour of Labour and is an “affront to democracy”.

This is absurd. The Conservatives have 49 per cent of seats with 42 per cent of the vote, while Labour has 40 per cent of the seats with 40 per cent of the vote. The proposed boundary changes would likely skew the results even further in favour of the Conservatives.

Ironically, this would have a profound effect on constituents even in strong Labour seats like Mr Corbyn’s. Attacks on public services, human rights, trade unions and the environment affect everyone, wherever they live.

Yet under “first past the post”, these can all be undertaken by governments elected on well under 40 per cent of the vote. A constituency link alone is little consolation to most people if the country is governed against their wishes.

The answer is to adopt a form of proportional representation with a constituency link. Voters would keep accountable, local representation, and would also be protected from divisive minority rule.

By supporting proportional representation, Labour would show it can be at the forefront of democratic improvement, and bring our outdated, unjust and unstable electoral system into the 21st century.

We call on Mr Corbyn to lead Labour to take one of the most important steps in this country’s history; to fully commit to the adoption of a proportional voting system in Westminster elections in order that, 100 years after women won the vote, we can finally make every vote matter.

KLINA JORDAN
Co-founder and facilitator, Make Votes Matter

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