One in four local parties demand Labour backs proportional representation

Elliot Chappell

Over a quarter of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have passed a motion calling on the leadership to reject the first-past-the-post voting system and to support the introduction of proportional representation.

Weaver Vale CLP became the 166th local party to make the demand when it passed a motion calling for Labour to back a change to proportional representation. There have been 45 similar motions passed since the start of January.

Commenting on how the motion, which passed unanimously, was received, local member Joanne Callaghan said that people “thought it would produce a much fairer system” and added that local MP Mike Amesbury described it as a “no-brainer”.

Labour members at the meeting are the latest to join CLPs across country to make the call after the launch of Labour for a New Democracy at the party’s online conference in September last year.

“There’s a growing understanding that our political system is simply not responsive to the needs of the people, and not up to the challenges of the 21st century,” Labour MP for Leeds North West Alex Sobel said after the CLP backed the motion.

“We need a system where seats reflect votes so parliament reflects the choices of the British people – and to create the possibility of collaborative, inclusive politics that serves the progressive majority. It’s great we have a broad campaign within the party to achieve electoral reform with Labour for a New Democracy.”

According to polling published by YouGov in October last year, 62% of Labour voters and 44% of the general population in the country support the UK changing its general election voting system to a form of proportional representation.

Commenting on growing support for electoral form among voters, Labour MP for Nottingham East Nadia Whittome said: “Far too many people legitimately feel powerless in our society, and that their votes don’t make any difference.

“We need to make sure everyone has a real stake in how the country is run. That starts with an electoral system in which every vote matters – and in which all voices are heard.”

Keir Starmer vowed during his leadership campaign to consult party members on electoral reform and to include it in a constitutional convention, arguing that the party must address the fact that many people “feel their voice doesn’t count”.

He went on to tell Labour members that, if elected as leader of the party, he would deliver a “radical devolution of power”. At the end of last year, Starmer announced the launch of a UK-wide constitutional commission.

A Labour source within the commission reportedly said the body would likely consider calls for altering the voting system, commenting that it would be “weird” for the issue of electoral reform to be “off-limits” in its review.

166 of 648 CLPs have passed a motion in favour of electoral reform. Labour for a New Democracy has said it aims to secure a commitment to proportional representation at the next Labour Party conference later this year.

It is backed by Make Votes Matter, Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, Compass, Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, Open Labour, Another Europe is Possible, Politics for the Many, Get PR Done and Labour for a European Future.

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