From training to be a primary school teacher to having joined Make Votes Matter as a campaigner for fair votes, Caroline Osborne says she now feels like she has landed the perfect job. 

She was among a delegation of Make Votes Matter representatives in central London on Saturday 16th November; their mission was to hand in an open letter to the Labour Party during their general election manifesto meeting. The letter, signed by Labour parliamentary candidates, peers, celebrities and more than 9,000 activists calls on the party to commit to electoral reform. The team then headed to Downing Street to hand in a separate letter calling on the Conservatives to support Proportional Representation.

Caroline shares her story on what it’s like working at Make Votes Matter.

If I could write myself a perfect job description it would pretty much be what I am doing now!

I am a lifelong self confessed politics geek, I was the kind of child who signed up for every school council going and grew into the kind of adult who picks up causes and gets involved in campaigning for change because democracy really matters! 

I have had a varied career, I trained as a primary school teacher at the University of Winchester and I have worked in special needs education, payroll and HR and bookkeeping.

But politics has always been a keen interest of mine and the 2015 general election galvanized my passion and saw me becoming much more active in campaigning. 

Caroline, left, outside Labour’s manifesto meeting in central London

I have been involved in numerous campaigns and my first protest was a ‘Ban the Bomb’ march in Glasgow whilst I was still in my pushchair! In recent years I have been heavily involved in Hampshire’s Save our Children’s Centres campaign and My Local Changing Places campaign. I am an active Labour Party member and have stood for local council in my ward. I have also held a number of Constituency Labour Party roles including Campaign Coordinator so I am quite used to organising campaigns, events, and projects.

I have lived most of my adult life in the South of England and as a Labour member and supporter I have only ever voted in one general election where my vote actually mattered and ever stood any chance of returning an MP. In my current constituency, which is a Conservative safe seat, I often receive messages from Labour asking me to make a 45-mile round trip to campaign in my closest marginal; to be asked to abandon your own campaign and our 13,000 voters to campaign in a constituency where you have no connection isn’t real democracy.

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When you boil it down to its most simplistic terms we should not be in a situation where up to 75 per cent of votes are wasted.

I have keenly followed Make Votes Matter for a number of years and have never understood the UK’s supposed love affair with First Past the Post. For me when you boil it down to its most simplistic terms we should not be in a situation where up to 75 per cent of votes are wasted.

I want the UK to join the majority of other countries that use PR, I want an electoral system that works for all of us, gives fair representation to minority groups, closes the gender gap, improves environmental controls, reduces the likelihood of war and brings about a better quality of life for the many!  It’s a great feeling to be part of a positive movement campaigning to bring about change.

This November I relished the opportunity to work on the open letters to the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. The letters call on both parties to get behind electoral reform. More than 5,000 activists have signed the letter to Boris Johnson. And the letter to Jeremy Corbyn was signed by some Labour parliamentary candidates, peers, celebrities and more than 9,000 activists. I joined colleagues and a small band of dedicated PR campaigners in central London on Saturday 16th November. The first job of the day was to head to the location of the Labour Party manifesto meeting. Once outside, we managed to get a copy of the letter into the hands of senior Labour figures in the hope of influencing the manifesto.

The letter was also published in the Guardian.

Then we headed to Westminster to hand in a giant copy of the letter at No. 10 Downing Street. I very much doubt the PM was in, but it was a symbolic gesture to hand over the letter asking him to support Proportional Representation.

I think sometimes it can seem too daunting to change a process that we follow because it is the process we’ve always followed. Make Votes Matter are bold and ambitious and we are affecting change because we’re engaging with countless people from all walks of life who want change too and I’m proud and humbled to be a part of the movement.

As part of my role I can provide speakers on Proportional Representation to attend your event. And with a general election taking place next month, everyone should be speaking up for PR!

How can I get involved?

If you’re a Labour or a Trade Union member and you’d like to hear from one of our speakers I would love to hear from you.

Contact me by emailing labour4pr@makevotesmatter.org.uk

Find out if your general election candidates want to bring in a fair voting system.

Will they promise to campaign for Proportional Representation if they’re elected, or will they defend the status quo?

Let’s find out. Ask your candidates to #PledgeForPR!