At least 140 local Labour parties have backed conference motions calling for Labour to support a switch to a proportionally representative electoral system, making it the most popular issue among local parties for the second year running.
Campaigners from Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND) said they welcomed the “continued and growing demand” for electoral reform within the party. 370 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) – about 60% of the total number – have now formally passed policy in favour of PR.
L4ND encouraged local Labour Parties to submit their motion on PR to conference, which seeks to commit Labour to introducing PR for general elections. The motion received the backing of both Momentum and Open Labour.
A similar motion proposed by L4ND at last year’s conference was rejected despite being supported by close to 80% of CLP delegates, as 95% of trade union delegates voted against.
Unite and UNISON – the UK’s two largest unions – have both since backed electoral reform, joining other Labour-affiliated unions including ASLEF and the TSSA.
At least 140 CLPs voted to submit motions calling for PR as their sole motion to this year’s conference. Around 20 submitted motions on the next two most popular issues – the economy and housing.
L4ND’s Laura Parker said PR being the most popular issue at conference for a second year shows “both the depth and breadth of support for reform across the labour movement and the commitment of party members to see Labour lead the way on fixing our broken democracy”.
She declared: “Reforming our outdated electoral system is fundamental to changing our society and delivering a fairer, more equal politics. It’s time for our whole movement, from the leadership to the grassroots, to back this change.”
More than 150 local parties voted to submit motions backing PR to Labour conference in 2021, of which 143 were accepted – the highest number of motions in favour of a single policy position on record. L4ND noted that there is no record of any issue receiving the most motions for two years in a row.
Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform chair Sandy Martin said: “80% of local party delegates supported the motion for PR at last year’s conference – and this strength of feeling has only grown.
“With the majority of affiliated trade unions also now opposed to first-past-the-post, it is time for Labour to commit to changing the electoral system.
“The Labour movement can no longer afford the failing first-past-the-post system that has let the voters and our country down. The case for proportional representation is overwhelming and Labour must now work positively for a new democracy.”
Exclusive polling for LabourList earlier this month revealed strong support for PR among Labour members. More than 70% of respondents said the Labour Party should back a move to PR, compared to 22% opposed.
Labour leader Keir Starmer vowed during his leadership campaign to consult party members on electoral reform and to include it in a constitutional convention, saying at the time: “We’ve got to address the fact that millions of people vote in safe seats and they feel their voice doesn’t count.”
L4ND was formed in September 2020 when Labour MPs and pressure groups joined forces to campaign for electoral reform. The coalition is backed by various groups including Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, Make Votes Matter, Compass, Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy and Open Labour.