MPs step up parliamentary push for electoral reform with new cross-party campaign

Tara Azar, former Student Placement

Posted on the 12th February 2021

MPs have launched a fresh effort to reform  Westminster’s undemocratic voting laws, with a new all-party group pushing for change.

The cross-party group – the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Electoral Reform – is working towards a more proportional voting system for all UK elections, while pushing for other reforms to boost democracy at Westminster.

The APPG, supported by the ERS and Make Votes Matter (MVM) has launched on Thursday 11th February. Its goal is to bring together MPs and peers to ‘secure policy change for greater democracy in the voting system and process, to champion accountability and the voice of voters’.

The APPG will also look at voting rights in the UK, including not only elections to the Commons but also elections for the currently unelected House of Lords.

Campaigners like ourselves have long challenged the warped one-party takes all results of Westminster, which are looking increasingly out of place in the rest of the UK. Proportional representation – which ensures seats more closely match how people vote – is already used for the Welsh Parliament / Senedd, Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, London Assembly and local elections in both Scotland and Northern Ireland (With Welsh councils given the right to choose).

The APPG will be pushing for concrete changes that can empower voters and modernise politics at Westminster.

We’re pleased to announce that Alex Sobel (Lab) will chair the group. Vice-Chairs include Daniel Zeichner (Lab), Wendy Chamberlain (Lib Dem), Owen Thompson (SNP), Tommy Sheppard (SNP), Lord Northbrook (Conservative), Baroness Natalie Bennett (Green). The Treasurer is Paul Blomfield MP (Lab) and the secretary is Wera Hobhouse (Lib Dem).

Members include Lord Paul Tyler (Lib Dem), Ruth Jones (Lab), Ruth Cadbury (Lab), Beth Winter (Lab), Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem), Caroline Lucas (Green), Bambos Charalambous (Lab), Helen Hayes (Lab).

Commenting on the launch, the group’s chair, Alex Sobel MP, said:

“I’m delighted that MPs across the spectrum are coming together to back the growing calls for electoral reform. Too many voters feel ignored and locked out by out-dated and warped systems at Westminster.”

This APPG is a step forward in the push for greater accountability, democracy and transparency, and a chance to learn from positive electoral reforms that have already empowered millions of people across the UK.

As Alex argued,

“with real reform, including a more proportional voting system, we can move forward as a democracy and bring Westminster into the 21st century.”

The ERS’ Willie Sullivan also noted ahead of the launch that the health of our democracy is an issue that goes far beyond party politics. It’s fundamental to people’s stake in society, and it’s vital people feel empowered to speak up and be heard.

We’re delighted to be working with the new APPG for Electoral Reform, bringing together MPs and peers from across the political spectrum to work towards our shared goal of building a better democracy. The cross-party backing is a major breakthrough too, with figures including Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Lib Dems and more.

At the virtual meeting, members agreed to investigate options for Lords reform, electoral reform at all levels, moving to a more proportional voting system for the Commons, and voting rights in the May elections.

For too long Westminster’s outdated structures have held our country back, from our warped voting system, to an unelected and archaic House of Lords. Today we have a political system that leave millions feeling powerless and ignored.

It’s time for real change, to level up representation across the UK, and open up the dusty halls of power at last.

Tara Azar is a placement student with the Electoral Reform Society from the University of Nottingham.

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