For those of you that were hoping that the Labour party represented one person/one vote, I hate to break it to you that this is not the case.
Conference votes against Proportional Representation
At the Labour party conference on Monday night, delegates voted on a motion that would have committed the party to changing the voting system for UK general elections to a form of proportional representation (PR). Eighty percent of members voted in favour of the motion but the trade union affiliated votes were overwhelmingly against and the motion was lost.
One person, one vote?
Is the Labour Party voting system as crooked as our national first past the post (FPTP) system? Time and time again, we see a majority vote for left/centre parties somehow translate into a Tory government. At the last election, the Tory party ended up with a whopping 80 seat majority from just a 1% increase in votes. This tiny increase has taken us from a hung parliament to one in which the executive can now push through any law it wishes, however damaging.
How can one party win such a large majority with only 44% of the total vote? The answer is that our FPTP system does not value voters equally. In effect, we do not have one person, one vote. Look at these figures from journalist, Femi Oluwole.
At the 2019 general election, the Green Party needed a whopping 865,697 votes to win just one seat. Meanwhile, the Tories needed only 38,000 votes for each of their 365 MPs. The Brexit party attracted more than 600,00 votes but didn’t win a single seat.
Unheard voices, wasted votes
During the last election, my daughter’s school held mock elections. The results had Labour and Green dominating. Are Keir Starmer and the Labour party telling my daughter and the hundreds like her that when they grow up, their vote for Green will mean nothing unless they live in Brighton?
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I live in Warwickshire, where my MP is Nadhim Zahawi. Under our FPTP system, you could put a blue rosette on a donkey, and it would win here. How does that inspire my daughter to vote beyond her first, maybe second election, before she becomes completely disillusioned and gives up altogether? Labour needs young people. How would they explain to my daughter that there is no point in her voting Green or indeed Labour where we live. Her vote will be worthless here. As is mine.
Why do Labour and its affiliated unions not wake up to the fact that the system is rigged against them? Under proportional representation, the same votes cast in the 2109 general election would produce a very different result.
The campaign group Make Votes Matter estimates that 71% of votes cast in 2019 counted for nothing. How can our nation continue to have so many unrepresented in Parliament and call itself a democracy?
Put Proportional Representation back on the table
If you are getting the sense that I – and many others – am just a bit angry about the Labour vote against its own party members then you sense correctly. The Labour Party needs to put this back on the table and the affiliates must back the real party members.
At the next election, my wish would be for all the opposition parties to form a one-off, PR pact. Once we have PR, we could then vote for whichever party we want instead of voting tactically, wasting our votes or not voting at all.
We might never have a Tory government ever again. Who’s with me on that?