A fair voting system is a human right - London rally
Make % of seats won by a party match % of votes won by that party
Current system delivers an unfair, unrepresentative Parliament
London, UK - 27 July 2015
Supporters of voting reform rallied outside the House of Commons on Saturday 25 July to call for “fair votes and a representative parliament.” They included Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, Green London mayoral candidate Sian Berry, former MP Simon Hughes and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
The rally urged MPs and peers to “fix the UK’s broken voting system” and “make seats match votes - so that the percentage of seats won by a party matches the percentage of votes won by that party.”
Fair votes are "vital for democracy and to help restore public engagement with, and confidence in, the political system," say campaigners.
The rally followed the most disproportionate and skewed election result in British history on May 7th.
PHOTOS of the voting reform rally: http://bit.ly/1GRCUgM
Free use, no charge. But please credit: Peter Tatchell Foundation
Speaking at the rally, Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:
“A fair voting system is a human right....The Chartists and Suffragettes fought for a fair voting system and a representative parliament that reflects the full spectrum of public opinion. We still don't have that.
“At the May general election, the government won 51% of the seats based on 37% of the vote and the support of a mere 24% of registered electors. That’s not democratic.
“Whether you love them or loathe them, UKIP and the Greens won a combined total of five million votes but only one MP each. The SNP secured 56 out of 59 Scottish seats, despite winning only half the popular vote; leaving the 50% of non-SNP voters with only three seats between them. [To their credit, despite benefiting from the current voting system, the SNP supports electoral reform].
“Democracy is meaningless without a fair voting system....Voting reform is a simple matter of fairness and equality....It’s time we continued and finished the struggle of the Chartists and Suffragettes. Let’s make first-past-the-post history.”
Other speakers at the rally included UKIP’s Jonathan Arnott MEP, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society Darren Hughes, Labour PR activist George Aylett and Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy; plus 16 year old Cornish student and Member of the Youth Parliament, Owen Winter, who initiated the current push for fair votes, with a petition on the website change.org calling for electoral reform, which secured over 200,000 signatures .
Owen Winter MYP said: “The general election result in no way reflected what voters really wanted. We want to ensure that everyone’s votes count in the future under a different system. First-Past-The-Post is broken, and our political leaders need to realise this before our democracy is permanently fractured. People want their voices to be heard. They want a fair voting system, and the issue of our broken electoral system is not going away. This event will be the start of a major campaign to make sure seats match votes in 2020.”
Prospective Green Party Mayoral candidate for London, Sian Berry, said: “The age of the two-party system is over. Fresh new parties like the Greens have broken through and are re-energising politics on the ground, reflected in our increased vote but not in more representation. Our broken electoral system must now catch up with the people. I’m pleased to be joining together with campaigners today to call for a new voting system and a much greater variety of voices in Parliament.”
UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott said: "The 2015 General Election was the least proportional in British history. Yet millions live in seats which haven't changed hands for a generation - in such circumstances, who can blame people who feel their vote doesn't matter? I believe it's time for us to stand together to demand change from our government, for a modern system meeting the needs of a multi-party 21st-century democracy."
Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said: “Millions of people were let down by our broken electoral system in May. I'm delighted to be joining with so many people at the Great Gathering to demand a fairer voting system. 2015 must be the last election where the seats don’t match the votes. This unfairness is repeated across the country at local elections. In England and Wales, local elections are lumbered with a voting system that encourages uncontested seats, low turnouts and fails to represent the diversity of our communities. I will be calling on people today to pledge to improve democracy in their communities, as well as at Westminster.”
Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “May’s election was yet another sign that our voting system is bust, with seats failing to match how people voted. We urgently need a national debate about how we elect our MPs, and now is the perfect time for a citizen-led proposals as politicians go into recess. We can’t afford to go into the 2020 election under the same out-dated system, where people’s votes fail to be reflected in Parliament. It’s time for reform, and this gathering is central to building that case. After the most disproportionate election result in British history, the issue is not going away.”
Labour campaigner George Aylett said: “The event follows the May election result where the Conservatives achieved a majority government despite only gaining 36.9% of the vote, whilst for their four million votes, UKIP secured just one seat in the House of Commons. At the same time, the Scottish National Party gained just over half of the popular Scottish vote, but won 56 out of the 59 seats in Scotland, and the Greens received only one seat for their million votes.”
 In addition to Owen Winter’s petition, Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society initiated their own petitions. In total, nearly half a million people signed petitions that called for electoral reform. The petitions were collated and presented to the government in May. The leaders of UKIP and the Green Party, Nigel Farage and Natalie Bennett, were the headliners in a political delegation including MPs from the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.Click here to return to the Democracy Index