Supporters of voting reform have had a disappointing week reading party manifestos, with neither Labour nor the Conservatives committing to proportional representation.
The Conservative manifesto is a “giant leap backwards” on voting reform, according to the Electoral Reform Society (ERC). They propose to change the voting system for Police & Crime Commissioners and mayoral elections to first past the post (the same used in the General Election). ERC went on to say: “Low turnouts in PCC elections combined with First Past the Post will result in winners the majority simply don’t want.”
Despite being the most popular policy on Labour’s member-led policy forum, the party has not committed to proportional representation in their manifesto either. This is also despite shadow cabinet minister for voter engagement and youth affairs Cat Smith supporting the policy last weekend.
Labour rather are supporting a constitutional convention, which could look into things like voting reform. Jeremy Corbyn said in an interview last year that a constitutional convention would explore having a proportionally elected upper chamber:
— Make Votes Matter (@MakeVotesMatter) May 17, 2017
Labour supported reviewing the electoral system in 1997, 2001 and 2005, but no action was taken in response to a commission on the matter.
Make Votes Matter, a campaign group set up after “the 2015 General Election was the most disproportionate in British history” were disappointed but optimistic.
Campaigner Joe Sousek said: “Although the Labour Party tanker hasn’t fully turned around, it does promise a Constitutional Convention looking at reforming the way Britain works on a fundamental level.
“This is progress. It is unthinkable a convention or cross-party process like this wouldn’t end up recommending PR. They usually do: the Jenkins Commission, New Zealand Royal Commission, Scottish and Welsh devolution processes, several conventions and a cross-party committee in Canada.
“As far as Labour is concerned (and there is a lot more to the campaign than just Labour) we now have to get as many candidates to commit to PR as possible, and hopefully get a stronger statement of support from the leadership.”
The Liberal Democrats, Green Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and UKIP are all committed to a proportional voting system to elect MPs to Westminster.
Students can check to see where their vote will matter more at http://ge2017.com/students.