Sam Cowie reports:
In 2011, it looked as if proportional representation had died a death with the disastrous attempt to change the UK voting system to the Alternative Vote. The referendum on AV, which was born out of a compromise by the ConLib Coalition which neither side wanted, with the Liberal Democrats hoping it may be a spring-board to real PR. The limp-wristed campaign that followed meant a turnout of just 42.2% with 67.9% rejecting AV and putting PR on the back burner.
Step forward six years and PR may not be on the minds of the establishment, but it is on the minds of the people. Two referendums; Scottish Independence and the UK’s membership of the EU saw record turnouts of political participation; 84.6% in Scotland and 72.2% in the EU referendum (the highest UK turnout since 1992). And why? Because every vote Mattered. Either side of these referenda saw an incredibly disproportionate general election result in 2015. UKIP received 3.8m votes and the Green Party 1.1m yet only gained a single MP each. The SNP however took 1.4m votes across Scotland and secured 56 MPs. Two years later the Party holding the balance of power the DUP which has 10 MPs received less than 300,000 votes compared to the Green Party who achieved just over half a million votes and UKIP just under 600,000. The numbers just don’t stack up and prove that FPTP is failing the people of the UK.
The Group taking this injustice on is Make Votes Matter, a group only formed in 2015 but have managed to put PR back on the political agenda as it was discussed in Parliament for the first time in eight years on the 1st of November, thanks to a petition started by MVM co-founder Tim Ivorson which achieved over 103,495 signatures in just over a year thanks to a whole range of activists and supporters. MVM is non-party political and has the official endorsement from the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, SNP and UKIP as well as individuals from the Labour Party and many other organisations.
Note the absence of support from the Conservatives and no official support from the Labour Party (although it may change) with most MPs seemingly undecided.
A move away from FPTP threatens the strangle-hold of the two establishment parties and therefore the only way to bring about change is through public support through grass-root politics. Make Votes Matter have done amazing work in their short existence, but there is a long way to go to achieve PR at Westminster and put the people back in control of UK democracy. If you support PR than I urge you to get involved in any way you can and bring about the change the people of Great Britain both need and deserve.