Parliament - Open House but “Closed to Democracy”
“Fair votes” protest outside parliament
Party leaders urged to support a referendum on voting reform
London – 18 September 2009
‘Vote for a Change’ campaigners condemned parliament as “closed to genuine democracy,” as the House of Commons prepared to welcome visitors for Open House Day – http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/visitingandtours/openhouse.cfm
Supporters of a referendum on the voting system, including human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and feminist Marcelle D’Argy Smith, ex-editor of Cosmopolitan and Woman’s Journal, rallied outside the main entrance to the House of Commons today, Friday, 18 September 2009.
See photos of the protest here:
Friday's demo was the first in a new series of high profile protests organised by the ‘Vote for a Change’ campaign group. The protests are designed to build public support for voting reform and to press politicians to deliver a referendum on the day of the next general election.
Peter Tatchell said:
“This weekend the House of Commons will throw open its doors as part of Open House Day, but parliament remains closed to genuine democracy. Our voting system is unfair. It results in the election of MPs and governments with only minority support.
“The flawed voting system under-represents liberal, progressive opinion in parliament, leading to unpopular and right-wing policies like the poll tax, Section 28 and the Iraq war.
“The Chartists and the Suffragettes fought for a representative parliament.Their battle is still unfinished. At no point since the Second World War has any British government won a majority of votes. Not a single sitting MP has secured the support of a majority of their constituents. Three MPs - George Galloway, Roger Godsiff and Ann McKechin - were elected with the support of less than 20% of registered voters.
“For the sake of democracy, we need a fairer, more representative voting system. We are calling on all political party leaders to support a referendum on voting reform on the same day as the next general election,” he said
Willie Sullivan for the ‘Vote for a Change’ campaign added:
“An Open House isn’t just about pulling down the cordons once a year. We need a parliament that values citizens as voters, not just as tourists. Yet in election after election our voices haven’t been heard, and that’s thanks to an antique electoral system.
“A referendum is our chance to let the light of day into a Museum Piece Parliament. Our MPs can make the same old arguments about National Heritage, but the final verdict must rest with the voters.”
For more information:
Willie Sullivan - 07940 523 842 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
The ‘Vote for a Change’ campaign is leading the call for a referendum on the voting system in the wake of the expenses crisis. It is based on the premise that politics is too important to be left to the politiicians.
The campaign filled Central Hall Westminster during the summer with a rally calling on the governmen to deliver on a referendum. The campaign has attracted support from thousands of ordinary citizens, heads of prominent civil society and membership organisations. More information is available via the ‘Vote for a Change’ website.