The Labour Party Conference has voted for a manifesto commitment to proportional representation for general elections. This is described as a massive moment for democracy in the UK. Now all major parties, bar the Conservatives, are united on the need for electoral reform and committed to delivering a fair electoral system where every vote counts.
The motion, backed by Labour party members and affiliated unions called for:
• Labour to make a commitment to introduce proportional representation for general elections in the next Labour manifesto.
• During its first term in office the next Labour government must change the voting system for general elections to a form of PR.
• Labour should convene an open and inclusive process to decide the specific proportional voting system it will introduce.
Labour Conference has chosen to back fair votes but this doesn’t mean PR will automatically go into the Labour manifesto – it still needs support from Keir Starmer.
Last week the long-running British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found that over half of people (51%) want the electoral system changed, while only 44% want to retain the current system.
For the first time in the BSA series, more Labour supporters are in favor of changing the system than want to retain the status quo. And the balance of opinion is not even close. Sixty one percent of Labour supporters now favor changing the electoral system, compared with only 34% who favor keeping it.
In 1997, a majority of Labor's supporters were opposed to reform – making it easy for Tony Blair’s government to drop the idea. The big difference is that now a majority of Labour supporters are in favor.
Support for proportional representation is now the mainstream of British politics. The public are tired of seeing millions of votes thrown on the scrap heap each election day. Too many voters across the country know who will represent them before a single ballot has been cast.