Three quarters of Labour members believe the party should support a change of the voting system to a form of Proportional Representation (PR), according to a new poll.

The research, commissioned by cross-party campaign group Make Votes Matter, found 76% of members believed Labour should back the introduction of PR. Just 12% were against change, with a further 12% saying they ‘don’t know’.

Conducted under First Past the Post, Thursday’s general election saw the Conservatives win a majority of seats with just 43.6% of the popular vote.

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: “Most people voted for parties to the left of the Conservatives on Thursday – so with Proportional Representation we’d most likely have a coalition of progressive parties steering us away from austerity and a hard Brexit cliff edge.”

“Instead, we’ve ended up with probably the most right wing government this country has ever seen, elected a minority of voters, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable in our society. Most Labour members have understood this danger for some time, and it’s absurd that we as a party still haven’t backed a fair system. We need to commit 100% to electoral reform at next year’s Labour conference, and we have to make sure this can never happen again.”

The Labour Party manifesto promised a constitutional convention to “answer crucial questions on how power is distributed”, but made no mention of reforming the voting system. However, 184 Labour parliamentary candidates had said that they personal support for PR during the general election campaign, according to Make Votes Matter, with just 46 stating their support for First Past the Post.

Joe Sousek, from Make Votes Matter and Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, said: “In 19 out of the last 20 general elections, most people have voted for parties to the left of the Conservatives. Yet the Tories have been in power for 63% of this time – and this will climb to 66% if they see out their new term in full. It’s time for Labour to recognise that First Past the Post has done nothing to create an equal society.”

A report, published in August and shared with the Labour Leadership, included a chapter by prominent political scientists which warned that, “It is widely accepted by experts that First Past the Post has a pronounced conservative bias,” and that, “countries that retain majoritarian systems should expect to see a greater frequency of right-wing governments in the future.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries contact Joe Sousek on 07402 965566 or 020 3612 2091

Email: joe@makevotesmatter.org.uk 

[1] Polling by YouGov commissioned by Make Votes Matter. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,078 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 12th December 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of Labour Party members (aged 18+).

The question read: “Proportional Representation refers to a family of voting systems which ensure that the share of seats each party wins matches the share of the vote it receives. Do you think the Labour Party should or should not support a change in the voting system for general elections to a form of proportional representation?”

1 Should / 2 Should not / 3 Don’t know

Make Votes Matter is the movement for Proportional Representation in the House of Commons. For more information on the campaign visit: www.makevotesmatter.org.uk