Do you live in a democracy? To judge this, let’s start with a simple question. How many potential Labour voters are there in a constituency? The answer is, “no one knows!”
YouGov polling estimates that in Britain, on average, 1 in 5 people who want to vote Labour don’t. This is because under our voting system, First Past the Post (FPTP), Labour voters’ votes often “do not count.” In Cheltenham for example, there has never been a Labour MP to represent Labour voters, and there are currently zero Cheltenham councillors at Borough or County level to raise issues of poverty, housing or employment rights. If people want someone to have a chance of speaking up on their rights, priorities and issues, they are forced to vote LibDem or Green.
Similarly LibDem and Green voters are discouraged from voting for their party. YouGov polling further shows that if you are a LibDem voter 1 in 3 people vote tactically for another party. This is higher because there are over 500 Parliamentary seats in which there is little, or no, chance of a LibDem voter having an MP to represent you. In those seats would-be ‘LibDem voters’ vote for the “party most likely to be elected that would represent some of their views”. In a place like Cheltenham that could easily mean that over 1 in 3 of voters would vote Labour if the electoral system offered them a vote that counted.
There is one party that does very well in this ‘democratic system’ – the Conservatives. They currently represent Cheltenham in Parliament. In 2019, Alex Chalk was elected to represent Cheltenham on less than half the votes cast. As many of 63% of Cheltenham fundamentally disagreed with his flagship policy on the EU. In other words, more than half the voters did not want him as the MP. This appalling situation occurs because FPTP favours the right-wing party as there is only one of them. For centre-left parties votes are split between LibDem, Green and Labour. The result is that the Conservative Party is in power for 2/3rds of the time on 1/3rd of the vote. The majority of voters, and their favoured policies, are not represented.
Proportional voting systems or ‘Proportional Representation’ (PR) can fix this. It is simple. If over 50% of the voters would prefer a candidate, the candidate is elected. It may not be your first choice, but your second. One thing is for sure, under PR the majority of people will never be represented by their worst option.
83% of Labour members want PR. 75% of unions want PR. In 2022 well over 100 local Labour parties at the Annual Conference passed a motion calling for PR, many of them from West England. In many constituencies Labour, LibDem and Green parties all want a fairer voting system that represents the majority of the people. There is only one party that believes in absolute power for a minority of voters.
Now who would you vote for if your vote really counted?
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