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Parliament to debate Proportional Representation after public demand

September 14, 2017 8:20 AM
By Bryan Lewis

On October 30th Parliament will hold a debate in response to a petition which attracted 103,495 signatures before it was closed and called on Parliament to adopt Proportional Representation for UK General Elections.

The vast majority wants PR. Our First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system makes Parliament unrepresentative. One party got 37% of the vote and 51% of seats, while 3 parties got 24% of the vote but share 1.5% of seats. FPTP violates the democratic principle of majority rule and causes problems like costly policy reversals.

The UK has never had a say on PR. In 2011 the Alternative Vote (AV) Referendum was on a system that is often less proportional than FPTP, so the rejection of AV could not possibly be a rejection of PR. In fact, so few voters wanted either system on offer that the turnout was just 42%.

The Government responded saying

"FPTP is a robust method of electing MPs. A referendum on changing the voting system was held in 2011 and the public voted overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the FPTP system.

The Government is concerned that proportional voting systems would weaken the direct constituency link which is a key feature of our Parliamentary system, and under a proportional system the voting process is more complicated for the voter. The system is well established and understood by voters and provides a clear link between constituents and their representatives in Parliament. More often than not, it results in a government with a working majority in Parliament making decisive government possible."

This ignores the fact that FPTP is not Ballot boxused in many elections and the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies are elected using PR so many British voters are already very familiar with PR. It also fails to recognise that in recent general elections FPTP has not given us governments with working majorities and that is supposedly its strong point.

In addition there are tried and tested PR systems that keep the constituency link. They would make every vote matter equally, rather than allowing a minority of swing voters in a few marginal seats to pick the government.