With a general election called for December, the team at Make Votes Matter are busy putting our own election strategy into action and doing everything possible to influence the Labour and Conservative party manifestos.

One area we agreed would have impact is writing open letters to both parties, urging Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson to get behind electoral reform.

At this crunch time, British political parties are busy setting out their stalls on their key promises to voters. And for most, this usually includes a vision for a transformed democracy based on Proportional Representation. Indeed, most political parties have already signed up to our historic Good Systems Agreement.

Yet the leaders of the two biggest parties haven’t uttered a word on electoral reform. That’s why we’re targeting Johnson and Corbyn because they’re not talking about PR. So now the election has been called and the manifestos are being decided, this is the last chance to influence policy.

We know that when it comes to electoral reform the more pressure we can put on Labour and the Conservatives, the more likely we are to shift them towards openness on this important policy area. These are unpredictable times and, depending on the election outcome, even the smallest concession could be crucial.

Making the case to Labour

The letters attracted some seriously high profile signatories as well as thousands of campaigners. We were delighted to get our letter to Jeremy Corbyn published in the Guardian just before Labour met to decide its manifesto, with the names of 20 Labour MPs and candidates, and public figures from Billy Bragg, to Polly Toynbee, to Noam Chomsky.

A group of Make Votes Matter campaigners headed to central London on Saturday 16th November. Their mission was to hand in the open letter to the Labour Party during their general election manifesto meeting. Senior figures in the party such as John McDonnell were also given a copy of the letter as they went in to discuss the manifesto.

MVM making the case for Proportional Representation outside the Labour manifesto meeting, central London

Joe Sousek, Co-Chief Executive at Make Votes Matter, said: “It’s glaringly obvious that our First Past the Post voting system is broken. From electoral pacts to tactical voting, this election is set to be decided by tactics rather than the will of the people – and there’s every possibility we’ll end up being governed by a party most voters rejected at the ballot box. It’s time for the Labour Party to break it’s silence on electoral reform. 

“Our ask is simple: that Labour commits to reviewing the voting system for general elections if it gets into power. The Labour Party wants to transform British society in the interests of the many. This can only happen by bringing in a voting system that puts power in the hands of the many, not the few.”

The letter to Labour says the party has nothing to fear from a voting system that ensures Parliament closely reflects the balance of opinion held by the British people. It’s signed by some of Labour’s own parliamentary candidates including Alex Sobel, Ruth Cadbury, Darren Jones, David Drew, Helen Hayes and Stephen Kinnock.

And Labour’s Alex Sobel, Leeds North and David Drew, Stroud tweeted about their role as a signatory.

Making the case to the Conservatives

The letter to Boris Johnson states we need Proportional Representation to truly take back control.

At the heart of the UK’s political crisis, the letter begins, is a democratic system that denies representation to voters and makes politicians incapable of compromise. Stable, grown-up politics can only be based on cooperation and consensus by a Parliament that faithfully reflects the people’s votes. For this, we need Proportional Representation.

Klina Jordan, Co-Chief Executive at Make Votes Matter, said: “As a student, Boris Johnson supported Proportional Representation. So we are simply calling on him to return to those principles and be the Prime Minister who is not only remembered for taking on Parliament, but for making Parliament finally reflect the people. We need real democracy now, and for that to happen we need a fair voting system.”

The Make Votes Matter delegation headed to number 10 Downing Street to hand in a giant copy of the letter, signed by more than 5,000 people! And although the PM was likely out on the campaign trail, it felt worthwhile making the symbolic gesture to hand over the letter asking him to support Proportional Representation.

MVM delegation outside the gates to Downing Street

Both letters have attracted more than 14,000 signatories so far. Please sign and share and make your voice heard in the campaign for fair votes!

And we’re not stopping there. In the run up to the general election there are a number of actions we are encouraging everyone to take part in. From adding your signature to the open letters, to organising or attending hustings events. We really do want your help to try and make this the last election in British history to use an undemocratic voting system.

Vist our general election action page today and see how you can make a difference!