Joint letter: 650 voters in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland call for PR at Westminster

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 2nd August 2021

A new report from the ERS, Here to Stay: Two Decades of Proportional Representation in Britain,  celebrates two-decades of proportional representation in Britain, including the Senedd, Scottish Parliament, and London Assembly.

In the foreword, hundreds of voters over in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and London – parts of the UK which use PR – have called for Westminster to abandon one-party-takes-all voting, and catch up with the rest of the country.

The report launch marks the anniversary of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997 on July 31st, which paved the way for PR-elected devolved government in Wales and Scotland. The same day also marks Make Votes Matter’s ‘Make Noise for PR’ day of action – shining a light on the failings of the one-party voting system at Westminster.

Here’s the letter in full:

Across the UK, proportional representation is here to stay. Westminster needs to catch up.

As supporters and campaigners for electoral reform, it’s often easy to forget to celebrate the advances that have been made towards fairer votes. The damage done by winner-takes-all voting at Westminster overshadows so much of our politics.

While elections for the House of Commons remain warped, we are proud that for devolved elections in London, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, First Past the Post has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Across the UK, elections with a proportional representation system are becoming the norm. Millions of votes have been cast across the UK using PR, with voters rightly expecting to secure fair representation, not the pale imitation of democracy that one-party-takes-all politics provides.

The benefits of this are clear. In devolved elections, voters’ voices are amplified through proportional representation – a stark contrast to the silencing effect of Westminster’s system.

But while elections for Westminster and English councils continue to lag behind (Wales has recently passed legislation letting councils switch to the Single Transferable Vote), they will keep failing voters: reducing scrutiny, skewing resources, and silencing millions. It is a recipe for alienation, disengagement and division.

There is still some way to go, but our experiences in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London have shown the benefits of a fairer system: fostering cooperation and giving voters real power.

Now Westminster must follow suit. It cannot take two more decades for the Commons to catch up.

Rather than rolling back preferential voting – as UK ministers plan – we urge politicians to get with the times and back truly democratic elections at last.

Signed by over 650 ERS supporters in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and London.

Read the full report: Here to Stay: Two Decades of Proportional Representation in Britain

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