Campaigners urge parties to make ‘truly fair’ elections a red line in hung parliament

Posted on the 10th December 2019

ERS say this must be ‘the last election under our broken voting system’, as they write to party leaders.

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, Tuesday 10 December.
  • Contact Jon Narcross, [email protected] / 07794728820 for interviews or more information.

The Electoral Reform Society have called on all party leaders to commit to backing reform of Westminster’s ‘discredited’ voting system – with smaller parties urged to make proportional representation a ‘red line’ issue.

In a letter sent to all party leaders, the ERS are calling for political parties to publicly commit to making proportional representation a priority – whatever the outcome of Thursday’s election [1].

And the ERS are urging Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson to overhaul the voting system if either is elected with a majority, given the ‘undemocratic’ nature of the results.

The call comes a week after the ERS launched ‘Democracy Day’ with over 20 leading civil society groups and campaigners calling for parties to put political reform on the agenda [2].

Polling by BMG Research has found that 30% of voters plan to ‘hold their nose’ on Thursday and vote tactically [3].

Recent research by the ERS has found that nearly 200 seats have not changed hands since World War II – a ‘damning indictment’ of Westminster’s winner-takes-all system [4].

And polling launched last week revealed that just 16 percent of the public believe politics is working well in the UK – and only 2 percent feel they have a significant influence over decision-making [5].

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society said:

“We don’t yet know the outcome of this election – but we already know that the results will be built on an undemocratic voting system. Winner-takes-all results at Westminster have failed voters across the country for too long.

“With millions forced into tactical voting, hundreds of safe seats and electoral pacts denying millions more any real choice, it’s time to say enough is enough.

“Trust in politics is at rock bottom, and voters desperately need to be heard. Let’s make this the last election under the unjust electoral system.  We urge all party leaders to put the country first, and commit to making real reform at Westminster a priority.

“Let’s work together to bring our crumbling constitution into the 21st century. This election should be the last ever conducted under the rotten First Past the Post system. We hope all parties join the campaign to make Westminster work for all of us.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] Letter to BXP, Lib Dems, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru below:

Dear party leader,

Last Thursday the Electoral Reform Society launched ‘Democracy Day’ with over 20 leading civil society groups and campaigners calling for parties to put political reform on the agenda. Polling the ERS found that just 16 percent of the public believe politics is working well in the UK – and only two percent of people feel they have a significant influence over decision-making.

This election we have already seen a key driver of this: a voting system that forces millions of people (30% according to BMG polling) to ‘hold their nose’ at the ballot box and vote tactically. Millions more have been denied choice through parties withdrawing candidates in de facto pacts. And our research has shown that nearly 200 seats have not changed hands since World War II – a reflection of the broken, demoralising nature of winner-takes-all results.

That is a real indictment of a political machine that is desperately unresponsive and out of touch. Whatever the outcome of the general election, politicians will return to the House of Commons with millions of voters feeling voiceless and unrepresented by an anti-choice electoral system.

This is why, today, we are calling for all parties to make proportional representation a number one priority in any cross-party talks or in government.

This election was called because Westminster system had left the country in a deadlock: a political mentality that treats cooperation and dialogue as taboo, and constrains political debate into a battle between Leave and Remain – rather than giving all issues a fair hearing.

Westminster’s system has warped electoral results for too long and led to a crisis of trust and representation. The tools of compromise and working together have been left to rust away. Thankfully, there is a way to change that: committing to a truly democratic political system where every vote counts equally.

Will you take this opportunity to publicly commit to making proportional representation a priority after Thursday?

Thank you for your time and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely,

Darren Hughes,

Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society

[2]  https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/05/an-overhaul-of-westminster-politics-is-long-overdue

[3]  https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/poll-reveals-record-breaking-30-of-public-plan-to-vote-tactically-in-general-election/

[4]  https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/revealed-nearly-200-seats-havent-changed-hands-since-world-war-ii/ 

[5]  https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/bmg-poll-just-one-in-six-people-believe-westminster-is-working-well/

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