Our petition for Proportional Representation has finally been scheduled for debate in Parliament, thanks to the work of dozens of organisations and parties, and 103,495 individuals. Keep reading to find out how we all made it happen.

Tweet or email your MP to ask them to attend “parliamentary petition debate 168657 on 30th October”, listen to the arguments and back Proportional Representation for the UK.


Starting from scratch

In October 2016, Make Votes Matter team member Tim Ivorson started a parliamentary petition for Proportional Representation. We knew that getting 100,000 signatures would mean PR is considered for parliamentary debate.

Petitions for PR had gathered many more than 100,000 signatures in the past. But this has generally happened straight after a general election while the issue is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This would be different.

But we – the people who make up this movement – believe most people understand that our broken democracy is at the root of the huge problems with our politics and society. And we believe it is both necessary and possible to bring people who want fair votes together into an unstoppable movement for real democracy.

Lift-off!

By email and social media, we contacted our supporters asking them to sign the petition and, crucially, to share it far and wide. Activists began distributing leaflets pointing members of the public to the petition and organising Thunderclaps to build social media reach.

We quickly passed 10,000 signatures, triggering a response from the government. This response can still be read on the petition page. As well as wheeling out the same tired lines about the 2011 referendum on another non-proportional voting system, it (now ironically) claimed that First Past the Post brings about stable single-party government. But we didn’t want a stock response from the government: we wanted a debate in Parliament!

We weren’t going to be able to do it on our own. Brilliant organisations, parties and public figures – too many to list here – began promoting the petition to help it reach a bigger and bigger audience.

By the end of the year, we had over 40,000 signatures and were on our way.

Building support

With the petition gaining momentum, more and more organisations and politicians rallied behind it to help spread the word: sharing on social media, and emailing supporters and disenfranchised voters to let them know how to make their voices heard.

Most inspiring of all were the local group activists going out and drumming up support for the petition across the country. If you want to start a local group where you live, get in touch!

Success!

With just days to go before the petition closed, and just weeks before the 2017 General Election was called, we reached the 100,000 signature milestone. A short time later, the Petitions Committee decided to schedule a debate in Parliament.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that this was all the work of Make Votes Matter. It was the work of countless campaign groups, parties, politicians, public figures and activists.

More than anything else, it shows what can be achieved when everyone who wants fair votes works together: a movement that can set an agenda for change.

What next?

That’s why in coming weeks we’ll be holding our second Alliance Building Conference to bring together representatives of all the parties, organisations and local campaign groups working for Proportional Representation. We’ll be aligning approaches, planning interventions, and working out ways that we as a movement can drive change.

First on the agenda, of course, will be the petition debate on 30th October. To be clear, there’s no Bill under consideration and “winning” the debate won’t mean a change in law – but it’s a great opportunity to make the arguments and attract publicity to the issue. There needs to be a strong turn out of MPs to make the case for PR – but we also need lots of those MPs who haven’t yet made up their minds to come and hear the arguments.

Tweet or email your MP

Please contact your MP to ask them to attend the debate and support Proportional Representation. No Bill is put forward with the debate, so this is not about winning a vote. It’s about exposing as many MPs as possible to the arguments for voting reform. Click a button below, enter your postcode, and either send the pre-written tweet or write an email directing them to the petition webpage.

If they reply, be sure to let us know their response so we can add them to our MPs map.