Barry Gardiner

Working Hard for Brent North

Proportional Representation for General Elections

PR is an electoral system in which the distribution of seats corresponds closely with the proportion of the total votes cast for each party. For example, if a party gained 40% of the total votes, a perfectly proportional system would result in them winning 40% of the seats.

Parliament needs to be representative of communities across Britain and to reflect different views and concerns. If we are to build a democracy that works for all, I believe we must make it easier for people to vote and engage in politics.

At the 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to establish a Constitutional Convention to examine and advise on reforming the way Britain works at a fundamental level. As well as having the option to look at different voting systems, such a Convention would look at extending democracy locally, regionally and nationally - starting by ending the hereditary principle and reducing the size of the current House of Lords. This should be part of a wider package of constitutional reform to address the growing democratic deficit across Britain.

I appreciate there are concerns about the current First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system, used to elect MPs. There are, of course, strengths and weaknesses to all voting systems.

Although the 2017 General Election did not produce a strong majority government, FPTP does have a history of generally returning stable, single-party governments and of retaining the constituency link, both of which are important benefits to our electoral system.

The current Government has repeatedly stated its view that FPTP is the best system for elections to the House of Commons, and has no plans to change the voting system.

I appreciate, however, that there is a case to look in detail at our electoral system and that forms of Proportional Representation (PR) are already used in the devolved administrations across the UK, as well as in local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland.


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