Labour now backs proportional representation for executive elections. Next stop: PR for Westminster

Electoral Reform Society
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Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 2nd July 2020

The Labour Party has scrapped First Past the Post voting for its National Executive Committee elections, meaning constituency representatives will now be elected using the gold standard of PR: the Single Transferable Vote.

The ERS campaigned for the move alongside Fair Internal Labour Elections, Open Labour and activists from across the party. Labour already uses preferential voting to pick its leader and select candidates.

This is a major step forward for member democracy and fair results, and the ERS were proud to back the campaign. Labour has now firmly rejected the Westminster-style winner-takes-all system for its internal elections.

With PR, every vote counts equally, and all voters are heard. That means this could go a long way to reducing toxic, hyper-factionalism, in turn helping to build a more united, cooperative organisation.

Labour’s nearly-600,000 members will now be using STV – in addition to many trade unions and civil society groups which use proportional representation to elect their executives.

The move also brings Labour into line with other parties including the Lib Dems and the Greens, who use the Single Transferable Vote system for internal elections. All the deputy leadership candidates backed a move to STV for the NEC during the leadership election, at an ERS and Open Labour joint hustings.

This week’s move is a real win for members across the party: preventing one side taking 100% of seats on a minority of the vote. Now it’s time for Labour to join almost every other party and get behind fair elections for Westminster, too.

Labour’s move away from one-slate-takes-all should be the start of backing fair elections at Westminster – where every vote counts, and no one has to ‘hold their nose’ by voting tactically.

Labour can put the principles of political equality into practice and back proportional representation for picking MPs: because if it’s good enough for party members, it’s good enough for the general public.

A majority of Labour members back proportional representation for Westminster elections. Keir Starmer also expressed support for electoral reform during the leadership election, saying millions of people feel ignored each election, and he promised to consult members on proportional representation.

This week’s NEC decision was a small but significant campaign win – and hopefully a good sign for the party’s wider democracy agenda.

The Labour party is now seeking views on policies for democratic reform. If you’re a member or campaigner, find out more and submit your ideas here.

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