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For media bids and more information, please contact Stephen Gilmore: +32 498 07 78 19; media@makevotesmatter.org.uk 

LONDON, 23rd May 2023

  • On Wednesday 24th May, hundreds of people from across the UK will converge on Westminster to tell MPs it’s time to Sort The System.

  • The mass lobby – organised by Make Votes Matter and a coalition of other democracy groups – will see constituents meet with their local MPs in Parliament to highlight the flaws in the First Past the Post electoral system and call for Proportional Representation.

  • Baroness Natalie Bennett, Wendy Chamberlain MP and Clive Lewis MP will be among those speaking at the event and will be available for comment on why they are backing the campaign for equal votes.

Proportional Representation is essential to repairing Britain’s broken politics, democracy campaigners said today on the eve of a mass lobby of Parliament: Sort The System.

The lobby, which will see hundreds of voters from across the country descend on Parliament to meet with MPs, has been organised in response to the widespread concern that Westminster politics isn’t working for ordinary people across the country.(1)

Campaigners warn that from issues such as housing, the cost of living crisis, to climate change and the environment, Britain’s First Past the Post electoral system is serving as a barrier to progress, ignoring the concerns of millions of voters up and down the country. 

Abbie will be travelling down from Bury to make sure MPs know this matters. Explaining her participation in the mass lobby, she said: “It feels like politics has lost touch with ordinary people. Life is getting harder, the country seems to be at breaking point, but the big problems are just not being dealt with. If everyone had a vote that counted equally, politicians would have to start listening to all of us and fixing the problems in the country.”

Klina Jordan, Chief Executive of grassroots campaign group Make Votes Matter, commented: “We’re seeing rising support for electoral reform as, across the country, more and more people are realising that First Past the Post is the rot at the core of our politics – and until we have a voting system that ensures seats match votes, we’ll keep seeing the same problems.

“Only with PR will our political system respond effectively to the views and needs of voters – no matter where they live.”

The lobby comes as support for Proportional Representation continues to grow. Last week, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, issued a fresh call for electoral reform, warning that Britain has “sunk into a pit of dysfunctional politics”. Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said “when you step outside of Westminster, you look at things afresh. I’ve looked at how power doesn’t really flow properly throughout this country. The First Past the Post system hands more power to the establishment than it does to people. I think PR would put people much more in control. Every vote would matter.”

Public backing for Proportional Representation has never been stronger: polling consistently shows support for a proportional voting system comfortably outstripping support for the status quo. The most recent British Social Attitudes survey, a well-respected gauge of national opinion, showed a majority of people in Britain favour replacing First Past the Post with PR.(2)

“We know that there are many people who feel disenfranchised by the current system,” commented Tom Brake, Director of cross-party pressure group Unlock Democracy. “If people are to regain trust in politics, they need to know that change is possible, that their voice is being heard. PR guarantees a fair hearing to everyone.”

For weeks, members of the public from every region of the UK have been securing meetings with their MPs to prove the level of public demand for change.(3)

Neal Lawson, Director of Compass, said: “People across the country recognise that our voting system isn’t fit to tackle the big challenges we face as a country – it’s time our political leaders caught up.

“Electoral reform isn’t a silver bullet and won’t solve all our problems by itself, but it would ensure that every vote counts and that every community has a voice in the political process – unlike our current voting system, which shuts down debate and hands disproportionate power to a handful of swing voters.”

Naomi Smith, Chief Executive of campaign group Best for Britain, added: “Britain should be leading the world in strengthening and improving democracy but instead we are stuck with an arcane system which has cemented minority rule and damaged trust in politics as too many people feel their vote doesn’t count.

“With millions more people in poverty, a stagnant economy and crumbling public services, Britain can’t wait another five years for our voting system to be brought into the 21st century.”

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

Sort The System is a mass lobby of Parliament calling for Proportional Representation for UK general elections. It is the joint initiative of the organisations listed below, coordinated by Make Votes Matter. More information is available here.

Key moments in the day:

  • First round of speeches from politicians and civil society leaders: 12:40pm in the Emmanuel Centre

    • Speakers include: Hina Bokhari AM, Wendy Chamberlain MP, Clive Lewis MP, Mandu Reid, Zack Polanski AM and Tommy Sheppard MP

  • MP meetings in Parliament: 1:30pm – 5:30pm

  • Second round of speeches: 14:30pm in the Emmanuel Centre

    • Speakers include: Baroness Natalie Bennett and Cllr Nate Higgins

  • Photo op: 3:30pm – 4:00pm in Victoria Tower Gardens

References:

(1) Just 13% of people think the UK Parliament has done a “fairly good”’ or “very good” job in recent years (YouGov Biannual Tracker)

(2) The majority of the public (51%) support introducing PR, up from 27% in 2011 (British Social Attitudes Survey 2021, National Centre for Social Research)

(3) Three-quarters of Britons believe the U.K. is on the “wrong track”, with trust in government falling to a seven-year low (2023 Edelman Trust Barometer)

Supporting organisations:

Make Votes Matter is a single-issue campaign for Proportional Representation in the House of Commons. Working with all parties to generate irresistible demand for PR, we aspire to a truly democratic UK in which everyone has an equal voice, power is shared fairly, and decisions are made for the common good.

Unlock Democracy is a not-for-profit organisation which campaigns for a vibrant, inclusive democracy that puts power in the hands of the people. Enshrined in a new, written constitution, we want a democratic society that ensures equality and justice for all, and a political system that reflects and upholds the values we collectively share.

Best for Britain is the UK’s leading internationalist campaign striving for the best social, economic, environmental, and democratic outcomes for the British people, and solutions to the problems created by Brexit. We work with all parties in parliament, businesses and like-minded groups. Best for Britain is the Secretariat for the UK Trade and Business Commission and the APPG on Coronavirus.

Compass is a home for those who want to build and be a part of a Good Society; one where equality, sustainability and democracy are not mere aspirations, but a living reality. We believe an essential step to making the Good Society a reality is reforming our outdated, broken politics and replacing it with a new democratic settlement that emphasises collaboration, participation and alliance-building.

The Electoral Reform Society is the UK’s leading voice for democratic reform. We operate on a simple premise – that politics can be better than it is. We work with everyone – from political parties, civil society groups and academics to our own members and supporters and the wider public – to campaign for a better democracy in the UK.

Open Britain is a grassroots activist network fighting to make democracy work for everyone. We believe that every person has the right to have their voice heard and to participate in the decisions that shape their lives. Everything we do is designed to defend, strengthen and renew democracy.

Politics for the Many is the trade union campaign for political reform. If you are involved in a trade union, join us. We believe change comes through people joining together – in unions, in parties, in campaigns – to say ‘enough is enough’.