Over four out of five Labour members believe the party should support changing the UK’s electoral system to a form of Proportional Representation (PR), according to a poll published exclusively in Labour List today.

The survey of 1,000 Labour Party members, by YouGov for Labour for a New Democracy, found that 83% supported the policy, with 10% opposed, and 7% saying they don’t know.

Support has increased by 7% since the same question was asked in December 2019, and is overwhelming across all ages, genders and regions of the party membership.

The news comes as Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) decide which issue to prioritise for this year’s Labour conference. Well over a third of all local parties have already stated their in-principle support. However, campaigners warn that the issue will only be debated successfully in Brighton if dozens of CLPs go on to send a motion to conference calling for PR.

Caroline Osborne, from Labour for a New Democracy, said: “Support for a proportional voting system is now overwhelming in the Labour Party – thanks to the work of activists on this issue. But we mustn’t take for granted that this unprecedented demand counts for anything until it becomes party policy – and we can only make that change if members all over the UK table our conference motion at their CLPs.”

Sandy Martin, Chair of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, said: “Labour Party members have always been committed to a fair and inclusive society, but over the past two years our electoral system has enabled the Prime Minister to attack our democracy. We need a commitment to democracy NOW, and proportional representation is essential to achieve that.“

On Wednesday evening, an event hosted by Labour for a New Democracy brought together figures from across the party’s political spectrum who are united in their opposition to the current First Past the Post electoral system. Discussion included the need to forge a consensus on electoral reform encompassing the wide range of groups and factions in the party.

Speaking at the meeting, Alex Sobel MP said: “It’s not time for PR. The time for PR was 100 years ago… we’re well past the point where we should have changed and actually our electoral system is creaking at the hinges because we haven’t changed it.”

Oxford city councillor and anti-racism campaigner, Shaista Aziz, said: “We can only make radical change when people feel like they’re going to be listened to and going to be heard. That’s why I’m so passionate about this issue and why I hope Labour campaigns on this.”

Campaigners say First Past the Post distorts the wishes of voters. At the last election, the Conservatives won an 80 seat majority with less than 44% of the popular vote. They argue the current system obliges politicians to chase after a small number of swing voters in a handful of target seats, rather than representing all voters. The UK is the only country in Europe to use First Past the Post for general elections apart from Belarus, a dictatorship.

Notes to Editors:
For all enquiries contact Joe Sousek on 07402 965 566.

Email joe@labourforanewdemocracy.org.uk

  • Polling by YouGov commissioned by Make Votes Matter. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 989 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd June – 1st July 2021.  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

  • Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND) is a coalition created to secure a commitment to Proportional Representation (PR). It is backed by Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, Make Votes Matter, Compass, , Chartist Magazine, Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, Open Labour, Another Europe is Possible, Politics for the Many, Get PR Done and Labour for a European Future. www.lfand.org.uk

  • During the Labour Leadership election, Keir Starmer said: “We’ve got to address the fact that millions of people vote in safe seats and they feel their voice doesn’t count. That’s got to be addressed by electoral reform. We will never get full participation in our electoral system until we do that at every level.”

  • Labour for a New Democracy wants to secure a Labour Party policy commitment to PR in principle. The details of the system to be included in Labour’s manifesto at the next election – and legislated upon by Labour when in government – would be determined after Labour Party conference through an inclusive process. 

  • There has never been a UK referendum on Proportional Representation. The Alternative Vote system, which was voted on in 2011, is a majoritarian system similar to First Past the Post.