labour mps and peers who support pr

More and more Labour MPs and peers are voicing their support for proportional representation. Here's what some of them say:

Clive Lewis MP, Norwich South - supporter of proportional representation

Clive Lewis MP
(Norwich South)

"I believe in Proportional Representation.  We have a first past the post system. It is an ugly political system. It is an immature political system from the 19th century.  

We need to change it and we need to give people real choice in who their politicians and what their policies are. This will make for a better politics.

Baroness Ruth Lister, supporter of proportional representation

Ruth Lister, Baroness Lister of Burtersett

(House of Lords)

"If women are to achieve fair representation in politics, it is politics that must change, not women. Electoral reform is an important element of any such agenda for change."

Paul Blomfield MP, Chair of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform

Paul Blomfield MP
(Sheffield Central)

“I want to explore the opportunities for progressive pluralism and a new approach to politics. I believe that the case for electoral reform has never been stronger and want to help ensure that LCER can push the issue to the centre of the Labour Party’s agenda.”

Jonathan Reynolds MP (Stalybridge & Hyde)

"It is heartening to see support growing for the case for reform. However, it is not only the last few years that have shown the fallacy of the strong government argument for first past the post. If we dip into history, there is the 1970s and the Lib-Lab pact, or the relationship between Sir John Major’s Government and the Ulster Unionist party. It has not been the case that first past the post has delivered stable Governments for the UK. Where it has been stable, it has not always been good government, when that majority has been artificially put in place."

Stephen Kinnock MP (Aberavon)

“Electoral reform is often branded as an issue for political anoraks, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact it is one of the defining bread-and-butter issues of our time, because it is about the way in which power and resources are distributed across our country.

“We know that general elections are won or lost in the swing seats of Middle England and Middle Wales. This concentration of influence leads inevitably to the skewing of policy and investment towards certain geographical areas and communities.

“First Past the Post is inimical to the one-nation politics that we so desperately need to build. It militates against the re-balancing of our economy, sucks resources, investment and policy priorities away from constituencies that are in greatest need of support, and deepens divisions between our already fractured communities.

“Let's stop seeing electoral reform as an end in itself, and let's instead start seeing it as the cornerstone for building a better, fairer and more balanced Britain."

Tulip Siddiq MP (Hampstead & Kilburn)

"Diversity in politics is not about ticking boxes, but is a strategy for progress.  It is one of the reasons I support electoral reform.  Maintaining the status quo encourages policy makers to pursue ideas that are unrepresentative of the public at large.  Greater diversity will produce an agenda that truly works for the many, and it should be at the heart of Labour’s political ambitions. I want to see Labour recapture this strong tradition and support measures to make votes count."

Alan Whitehead MP
(Southampton Test)

“Electoral reform has always been about ensuring fair representation for votes cast, but now it assumes a new dimension with the volatility in voting we are now experiencing, where temporary minorities can be swept away on an unfair system, exaggerating and extending short term voting trends. First Past the Post surely cannot now be the basis for building and maintaining proper long term political choice.”

David Lammy MP (Tottenham)

"We’ve seen people feel left out of politics. Their voices are not heard in the corridors of power. Embracing change in our voting system will ensure every vote matters and will create a parliament that reflects the diversity of views across society. A voting system that reduces a General Election campaign to undecided voters in marginal seats is not healthy for our democracy.

Labour has always been the party of progressive change. We should lead the way."

Ruth Cadbury MP (Brentford and Isleworth)

"Every election I've stood in - seven as a councillor and three Parliamentary elections - I've won under First Past the Post. So I suppose I shouldn't really complain. But I've always felt there was a level of unfairness about the system.

The time for PR has definitely come... other nations can do it; I think it's time for the UK."

Watch Ruth Cadbury's short film

John McDonnell (Shadow Chancellor)

“We now have, in effect, an elected dictatorship trying to drive through cuts with no real mandate as most people didn't vote for them. It is our current electoral system that enables this to happen. If we are serious about building a mass democratic movement for progressive change, we need to put the campaign for electoral reform at the heart of Labour and the trade union movement.”

Read an earlier interview with John McDonnell in The Independent, 7 May 2016

Cat Smith MP (Lancaster & Fleetwood)

I am on the record as supporting PR. However, a major constitutional change such as this must have the support of the public. ... our democracy is still fundamentally broken. I do not believe that changing our voting system alone is some magic wand that will fix the problems or mend the disconnect felt by so many voters in this country. Millions of people across the UK feel that politics does not work for them, and it is not hard to see why. Communities are often affected by decisions over which they have no say or, even when they think they have a say, a Government can come in to override it, as in Lancashire in the case of fracking. Many people feel that what goes on in Westminster is a world away from the reality of their lives.

the legacy of late labour electoral reformers

Robin Cook (1946-2005)

"It’s very important that we are clear that we are not interested in electoral reform for functional reasons because we see it as a means to an end. The electoral system to the House of Commons is a crucial part of our democracy. And for Labour democracy cannot be just viewed as a means, it is also a value, a value which expresses how fair, how open and how equal we are in our society. At the moment we have a democracy that fails to match that value and that’s why it’s a matter of principle that we must insist on it being changed."

Mo Mowlam (1949-2005)

“This is an opportunity for all of us to discuss how politics can connect more closely to the decisions which affect their lives. Politics should not be about scoring points. It should be about getting things done, making politicians listen and making votes count.”

Rhodri Morgan (1939-2017)

Rhodri Morgan, who served for many years as First Minister of Wales, was a great supporter of electoral reform.

Rhodri's family and supporters are raising money for a memorial statue to be erected near the Welsh Assembly building. To follow their progress, or to contribute to the fund, see:

Paul Flynn (1935-2019)

Our democracy is not one we can hold up as a standard for the rest of the world...  Rhodri Morgan said democracy was invented two and a half thousand years ago, but has come to us in an instalment plan bit by bit and we are still a long way from achieving it.  

The most distorting aspect is the lack of any proportionality in representation.  The ludicrous situation in Wales means that in 1997, the Conservatives got 20 per cent of the total votes in the country and they didn’t get a single one of the forty seats.  In 2001, the Tories had about 300,00 votes, Labour had just over twice that number 616,000 votes.  The Tories had no seats and Labour had 34. This is not democracy, it is not representing the views of the people of the country and we should be doing something about it... we have a democracy that doesn’t reflect the opinions of the public and that is a very dangerous position. 

The reason we decided on the system we first used [for the Welsh Assembly] was we wanted to avoid a one party rule in perpetuity.  We didn’t want a Glamorgan County Council on stilts with the result of one party rule for ever.  It was done deliberately to give other parties a chance of taking part in government [...]

Part of the present politics is that we play this silly game of 100 per cent of what we say is right in the context of our parties and 100 per cent of what our opponents say is wrong [...]  When we get together throughout the House I find little to disagree with the policy of the Green Party and a lot of the policy of the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru, and it is a nonsense for us to go on playing this game.  This antagonism between groups when we know there should be common interest, especially on the environment because we are all going to choke to death eventually unless we get the environment right for our children and grand children.  There isn’t a right and wrong there. We should be working together as intelligent people, not like tribes that want to cut each others’ throats. The main obstacle to change is the self interest of the main parties, certainly my party and the Conservative party who voted for their own self interest because they know our voting system distorts things in their favour.  And it’s getting over that so a glorious day will dawn when parliament will see democracy in all its perfection as envisaged in Greece two and a half thousand years ago, and the dream will arrive in Westminster.

[15 March, 2017]


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