"Democracy is not just a means to an end. Democracy is a value in itself. And if we treasure that value, we need to provide a more democratic system for the centrepiece of our own political structure." - Robin Cook, 2005
OUR VISION AND VALUES
Our vision is of a participatory democracy in which everyone feels they have a meaningful stake; and of a politics which works to bring our society together.
We believe that this can only be achieved by scrapping the First Past the Post voting system, and replacing it with a more proportional system in which all votes count.
First Past the Post makes for a polarised politics which is adversarial, tribal and toxic, and which does not represent people. We seek to replace it with a system which encourages consensus-seeking, cooperation and problem-solving.
We support the Labour Party’s commitment to a
Constitutional Convention to examine the case for a wide set of democratic
reforms; we are campaigning to ensure that the Convention includes as its
centrepiece a commitment to a fair voting system.
LCER works with other organisations campaigning for democratic
reform, but we are unique in focusing our efforts on policy change within the Labour
Party. We do this because we believe that the impetus for changing the voting system must come from the Labour Party.
The Conservatives will NEVER support voting reform because FPTP gives them such a big electoral advantage. The anti-Tory vote is often split between two or more parties; Labour also tends to pile up surplus votes in urban areas (see table below).
The smaller parties already support PR, but lack the influence to bring about change.
Only Labour can drive the change
LABOUR'S WASTED VOTES
In the 2017 election, 87 Labour MPs were elected with over 60% of the votes cast in their constituency. 24 of these got over 70% of votes cast, while 5 MPs got over 80%!
By contrast, only 7 Tory MPs were elected with over 60% of the vote and no Tory MP received over 64% of the vote.
This is not just a problem with the 2017 UK election - it is a known problem with FPTP systems. They disadvantage left-leaning voters because they are disproportionately likely to live in densely populated urban areas.
LCER believes that the composition of Parliament should broadly match the way that people voted. A party that gets (say) 25% of the vote should get roughly 25% of the seats in Parliament.
Many countries around the world use voting systems that are completely proportional - that is, they are designed to ensure the closest possible match between the votes cast and the seats won by each party.
Other countries use voting systems which have a strong degree of proportionality, but which give a small boost to the largest party (or possibly the two largest parties). This is known as a "winner's bonus" and can make it easier to form a government after an election.
Experts have developed a range of indices for measuring the degree of proportionality in different voting systems. The results vary slightly according to the exact measure used, and can even vary between different elections that use the same system. But all the experts agree on one thing: First Past the Post is the least proportional system around.
LCER does not campaign for the introduction of any particular electoral system; we believe that the final choice of voting system should rest with a broadly-based Constitutional Convention. In particular, we are not campaigning for a completely proportional voting system; we believe that the UK would probably be better served by a broadly proportional system that maintained a strong local link between MPs and their constituents.
JUST TO BE CLEAR:
Sometimes, the term proportional representation (or PR) is used to mean a voting system in which votes strictly match seats.
We use a looser definition. For us, the campaign for proportional representation is the campaign for a voting system that would be substantially more proportional than FPTP, and in which seats in parliament broadly match the votes cast.