Statement from the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy, Monday 18th May, 13:30
Contact: Will Brett (email@example.com / 07979 696 265)
A photo for press use is available here.
Leaders from five of the major parties came together today (Monday) to add their names to almost half a million people calling for a fairer voting system.
In a rare show of unity from across the political spectrum, figures including Green Party leader Natalie Bennett appeared alongside UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell MP to call for voting reform, following the most disproportionate electoral result in British history.
Leading figures from the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Green Party, UKIP and Plaid Cymru signed the 477,000-signature petition at Westminster’s Old Palace Yard, before handing it in to 10 Downing Street.
Attending the event were Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Deputy Amelia Womack, the Liberal Democrats’ acting leader Sal Brinton and Tom Brake MP, UKIP’s Nigel Farage, Douglas Carswell MP and Suzanne Evans, new SNP MPs Philippa Whitford and Alison Thewliss, ERS Chief Executive Katie Ghose, and Unlock Democracy Director Alex Runswick (see photo attached - more on request).
The event follows an election result in which the Greens and UKIP received five million votes and just two seats; the Liberal Democrats got just 1% of seats on 8% of the vote; while Plaid Cymru won 12% of the Welsh vote but just three seats in Wales.
Nigel Farage MEP, UKIP: “This campaign for electoral reform is vital, now. The results of the General election where 5 million votes, the views of 5 million people are now represented by only 2 MPs; 4 million people voted for UKIP, for only 1 seat. It cannot go on like this. It is important to be here, with the Electoral Reform Society supporting its campaign to make votes match seats. I’m also delighted to be joining with Douglas Carswell who has campaigned for political reform for years and is leading the UKIP charge for this in the House of Commons”.
Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party: “The recent election has demonstrated that we need real change in our constitution. We haven’t seen significant reform at Westminster since women got the vote, and that was 1918 – we shouldn’t get to the centenary of that without getting a fair voting system. The Green Party would have got at least 24 seats under a fair voting system on May 7th – we only have one under our current unfair system. We need a total rethink of the way we vote.”
SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP: "The Westminster system is badly in need of reform. The SNP has done well under First Past the Post this time but we have always supported proportional representation and will continue to do so. From an unrepresentative voting system to the unelected House of Lords, SNP MPs will be a strong voice in the coming years for the change we need to see.”
Baroness Sal Brinton, President, Liberal Democrats: “The Liberal Democrats have long said we need PR, because one of the things that’s becoming clear over the past two to three General Elections is that people feel their votes don’t count – it cannot be more stark than the election we’ve just had. Now I may disagree with what UKIP stand for, but for nearly four million people to vote for a party and have just one MP is just outrageous.”
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood: "Plaid Cymru supports the Electoral Reform Society's calls for proposals for a proportional electoral system for House of Commons elections. Every vote at every election in every community should have equal weight. Plaid Cymru supports the adoption of the Single Transferable Vote as the fairest electoral system."
Alex Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy: “Parties from across the political spectrum are united in their recognition that our voting system is simply not fit for purpose. When half a million people and the leaders of five political parties are all simultaneously calling for a fairer voting system, it’s time to sit up and take notice.”
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society: “This election delivered the least proportional result in history. That’s because our two-party electoral system cannot cope with the fact that people want to vote for a variety of parties. It’s time we had a fairer voting system that accurately translated votes into seats in Parliament.”
Owen Winter, Member of the Youth Parliament for Cornwall and Change.org petitioner: “Like me thousands of young people are disillusioned with our current voting system and would like to see it change. When I can vote in 2020, (I’m 16 now) I would like my vote to count which is why I started one of the petitions (220,000 votes) we're handing in today.” Owen (who is revising for his exams) was represented today by Rhammel Afflick and the British Youth Council, which also backs voting reform. "We are working to keep young people engaged in politics. We do care but we want fair votes. Use us or lose us," Rhammel said.
Photo caption (see attached). From left: Leanne Wood (PC), Liz Saville Roberts (PC), Amelia Womack (Green), Natalie Bennett (Green), Jonathan Edwards (PC), Alison Thewliss (SNP), Tom Brake (LD), Philippa Whitford (SNP), Nigel Farage (UKIP), Sal Brinton (LD), Hywel Williams (PC), Douglas Carswell (UKIP), Suzanne Evans (UKIP)
For more information, photos and interviews contact Will Brett on 07979 696 265 / firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The full text of the petition is available here: www.makeseatsmatchvotes.org. The total number of signatories is 477,727 – this includes signatories of petitions by Owen Winter, a Member of the Youth Parliament, on Change.org (225,481); Avaaz (91,793); the Green Party (23,179); 38 Degrees (5,082) and a joint Electoral Reform Society / Unlock Democracy petition (132,192).
2. For the ERS’s analysis of the disproportionate election result see here - http://electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/nail-coffin
3. More photos are available on request – contact Will Brett (email@example.com / 07979 696 265)