Statement from the Labour for a New Democracy coalition.
- PR set for debate in Brighton as “unprecedented” numbers of CLPs call for Labour to back UK voting system change: at least 143 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have called for PR as their sole priority motion to annual conference.
- 310 CLPs in total have so far passed pro PR policy – half of all active Labour branches in the UK.
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Labour is set to debate Proportional Representation (PR) for UK general elections at its annual conference this month after at least 143 local parties submitted motions in favour of changing the UK’s electoral system.
Campaigners from the Labour for a New Democracy coalition welcomed the “unprecedented demand” for electoral reform, with a total of 310 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) – over 48% of all CLPs – having now formally passed policy in favour of PR. The group notes that over 96% of CLPs that have debated a PR motion have gone on to pass it.
The number of motions confirm the findings of YouGov polling of the Labour membership. It found 83% of members believe the party should support the introduction of a proportional voting system – with just 10% opposed.
It follows this Monday’s launch of a new pamphlet from the ERS-backed Politics for the Many campaign of trade unionists, on the union case for electoral reform.
Caroline Osborne, from Labour for a New Democracy, and a delegate to Labour Conference from Gosport CLP, said: “The 143 CLPs sending our motion to conference come from every region and nation of Great Britain – as well as International CLP, which represents Labour members overseas. So many important issues will be debated at this year’s conference but it is clear that Labour’s members see reform of our democratic system as fundamental to changing our society.”
Maria Iacovou, from Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform and delegate from Harwich and North Essex CLP, said: “The demand from Labours’ membership to the party leadership could not be clearer: the First Past The Post status quo is indefensible. PR is fairer, leads to better politics, and supporting it is the right thing to do. Conference delegates are heading to Brighton seeking an unequivocal commitment to introducing PR under the next Labour government.”
Julian Vaughan, a rep for the Labour-affiliated ASLEF union (which backs PR), and Politics for the Many Steering Committee member, said: “Westminster isn’t working for workers, as Labour members and trade unionists are increasingly clear about. This summer, my own union, Labour-affiliated ASLEF, became the latest to join the movement for proportional representation.
“We cannot build a just society through the private members’ club that is an unreformed Parliament. First Past the Post renders millions of voters completely voiceless. It’s time for equality at the ballot box, with representation matching how people vote.
“The current government is able to push through dangerous legislation like voter ID and the policing bill on a minority of the public vote, all because of a broken one-party-takes-all voting system. Unions have often led the charge for a fairer democracy, and I hope that continues this conference. The labour movement must be on the side of political equality and people power. Westminster’s current set-up is the very opposite of that.”
Willie Sullivan, Senior Director (Campaigns) at the independent Electoral Reform Society, said: “Keir Starmer pledged to address the failings of Westminster’s warped voting system during the leadership contest, and this conference is a chance to do that, backing the overwhelming calls for political reform.
“Millions of voters go ignored each election at Westminster – a far cry from the far fairer results in Scotland, Wales, the London Assembly and modern democracies across the world.
“Labour could learn a lot from New Zealand, Germany, and devolved governments here, where proportional results are the norm and cooperation is valued. Voters want political equality, and Labour should seize the chance to build a much better democracy. In the face of attacks on democracy and free elections worldwide, this would send a powerful message of hope.”
Notes to Editors:
- Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND) is a coalition created to secure a commitment to Proportional Representation (PR). It is backed by Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, Make Votes Matter, Compass, Chartist Magazine, Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, Open Labour, Another Europe is Possible, Politics for the Many, Get PR Done and Labour for a European Future. www.lfand.org.uk.
- 143 conference motions on PR surpasses the most popular issues to the last Labour conference in 2019 – when 135 were submitted on the Green New Deal and 91 on Brexit. The highest known number of motions on a single topic was 151 on Brexit in 2018. However, whereas CLPs took a variety of competing positions on Brexit, this year’s motions uniformly call for Labour to include PR in its next manifesto. More CLPs are calling for PR this year than any other single issue in the party’s recent history.
- During the Labour Leadership election, Keir Starmer said: “We’ve got to address the fact that millions of people vote in safe seats and they feel their voice doesn’t count. That’s got to be addressed by electoral reform. We will never get full participation in our electoral system until we do that at every level.”
- Proportional Representation refers to voting systems which ensure that the share of seats each party wins broadly reflects the share of the vote they receive. Proportional voting systems that retain a constituency link were introduced by the last Labour government for the Scottish Parliament, Senedd, Northern Ireland Assembly and London Assembly.
- Labour for a New Democracy wants to secure a Labour Party policy commitment to PR in principle. The details of the system to be included in Labour’s manifesto at the next election – and legislated upon by Labour when in government – would be determined after the Labour Party conference through an inclusive process.
- There has never been a UK referendum on Proportional Representation. The Alternative Vote system, which was voted on in 2011, is a majoritarian system similar to First Past the Post.