The independent London newspaper

Labour needs to back proportional representation

11 January, 2018

• OUR giant Christmas card asking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to support proportional representation was signed by 17,707 people, including 9,858 Labour voters, 3,323 Labour members and 221 of his constituents, mostly gathered on the streets of Islington on December 16.

When I spoke with Mr Corbyn on that day he agreed to meet these constituents to discuss PR. I hope to arrange the meeting.

Last week, Chris Skidmore, minister for the constitution, accused the Labour Party of gerry­mandering because it may vote against proposed boundary reforms. Mr Skidmore claimed the current electoral system is biased in favour of Labour and is an “affront to democracy”.

This is absurd. The Conservatives have 49 per cent of seats with 42 per cent of the vote, while Labour has 40 per cent of the seats with 40 per cent of the vote. The proposed boundary changes would likely skew the results even further in favour of the Conservatives.

Ironically this would have a profound effect on constituents even in strong Labour seats like Mr Corbyn’s.

Attacks on public services, human rights, trade unions and the environment affect everyone, wherever they live. Yet under “first past the post”, these can all be undertaken by governments elected on well under 40 per cent of the vote. A constituency link alone is little consolation to most people if the country is governed against their wishes.

The answer is not to fight gerrymandering piecemeal, but to adopt a form of PR with a constituency link. Voters would keep accountable, local, representation and would also be protected from divisive minority rule.

The case to make PR Labour policy is stronger than ever; 78 Labour MPs already agree that the UK needs PR, 17 of whom spoke passionately at the parliamentary debate on October 30 in response to our petition, signed by more than 100,000 people.

By supporting PR Labour would show that it can be at the forefront of democratic improvement, and bring our outdated, unjust, and unstable electoral system into the 21st century.

Make Votes Matter


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