In the spring of 2020, we started work on a major campaign to encourage CLPs to submit motions on PR to Labour Party Conference.
With a concerted effort, this could well have been the year that Labour changed its policy to embrace voting reform.
The 2020 Conference has now been postponed, and we don't know when the next Conference will take place. However, we're still campaigning! We're asking CLPs to pass a resolution in favour of voting reform, if they haven't already, and to submit our suggested motion to the next Labour Party Conference.
Resolution to Labour Party Conference
Conference agrees that the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system means, “millions of people vote in safe seats and they feel their vote doesn’t count.” Conference agrees this must be addressed by electoral reform. Decades of prioritising voters in marginals over our safe seat heartlands sowed the seeds for disastrous losses in Scotland and the ‘red wall’.
FPTP empowers the right. In 19 of the last 20 general elections most votes went to parties to the left of the Conservatives, yet by the end of their current term the Tories will have been in power for two-thirds of this time.
This has made us one of the most unequal modern societies. The most equal and progressive societies all achieved what they have through forms of Proportional Representation, many of which retain the constituency link.
We need a Labour government to radically reshape society. But to protect the gains we make when in power, to avoid losing future decades to Tory minority rule, and to give everyone a real voice in a 21st century democracy, we must change the voting system.
PASSING A RESOLUTION IN YOUR BRANCH OR CLP
Many Labour Party branches and CLPs have already passed resolutions in favour of voting reform, and we'd urge all members to table a motion at their local meeting. You can adapt the wording of the Conference resolution above, or scroll down for more ideas.
We would encourage you to:
After the resolution is passed, please
Hover over "National Policy Forum", click on "Policy Commissions", then scroll down and select "Justice and Home Affairs".
Click the button at the top right labelled "Make a Submission". You will be asked to register or log in. Use the same login details that you use to access the Labour Party's website; if you are not a registered user, you will be able to set up guest access.
When you post a submission on the NPF website, other visitors to the site can read and comment on it. Members are the relevant oplicy commission are also supposed to check for submissions and respond to them, though this does ot always happen; submissions are meant to be tabled at meetings of the policy commission.
how to get a resolution passed in your constituency labour party (CLP)
your CLP has a "delegate" structure (each branch sends delegates to
meetings of a General Committee), resolutions must first be passed by a
local branch, and then submitted for discussion at the GC. Submit your resolution to your local branch secretary in time for it to be included on the agenda for the next meeting. When the motion is passed by the branch, you can request that it is sent to the GC for discussion.
Many CLPs, particularly in rural areas, have an "all-member" structure, in which all local members are invited to attend CLP meetings. Some of these require motions to be submitted by a branch, but in many CLPs, a motion may be submitted by any member. Submit the motion to your CLP Secretary in time for it to be included on the agenda.
LCER is happy to supply a speaker to your CLP meeting, though a resolution cannot be proposed by a visiting speaker - a local member would have to do that.
SUBMISSIONS TO LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE
We're working with our members and supporters to ensure that as many resolutions as possible are submitted to the next Labour Party Conference. We'd suggest using the wording at the top of this page.
If you haven't been involved in submitting a motion to Conference, please see our short explainer. We will also be giving help and support via our telephone campaign.
The work doesn't stop when motions are submitted to Conference. We'll be campaigning to ensure that the motion on voting reform is prioritised in the delegates' ballot (the rules state that only the top 10 motions will be discussed). And of course, we'll also be campaigning to ensure that delegates vote for the motion!
how clps send motions to conference
Currently, each CLP may submit only one resolution to Conference. The deadline for submission is usually a few weeks before the start of Conference, but many CLPs meet to decide what motion they will be submitting much earlier than this.
Find out from your CLP secretary when the relevant meeting will take place, and submit the text of your resolution. Be prepared to argue the case for your CLP to submit a motion on voting reform, since there will very likely be other motions under consideration. It doesn't hurt to do a bit of work beforehand to drum up support among your fellow members.
MODEL RESOLUTIONS FOR TRADE UNIONS
If you're a member of a Trade Union, please consider tabling a motion on voting reform at your local meeting. Any of the resolutions drawn up for CLPs or Labour Party Conference may be adapted for trade union meetings; alternatively, our Trade Unions page has links to model resolutions specially formulated for trade unions.
TEXT OF MODEL RESOLUTIONS
This is a selection of resolutions passed by Labour Party branches or CLPs in the past. If you're sending a motion to Conference this year, please use the wording at the top of this page.
Notes that under the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system
We believe that
We call upon the Labour Party to enter the next election with a manifesto commitment to a programme of democratic reform which includes a comitment to the introduction of a voting system in which the allocation of seats reflects the votes cast.
We call upon the Justice and Home Affairs Policy Commission of the National Policy Forum to consult Labour's membership on the issue of voting reform, and to bring a policy document on voting reform to the next Labour Party Conference.
We resolve to afflilate to the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER).
Resolution to replace the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system in the UK
[This CLP/Conference/etc] notes that most democratic countries across the world do not use the FPTP electoral system, but use systems which ensure that the seats won by each party broadly reflect the distribution of votes cast.
We note that in the UK, tiers of government established over recent decades have not adopted FPTP for their elections: the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland and London assemblies are all conducted under proportional voting systems, as are local elections in Scotland and Wales.
In Westminster, our current voting systems leads to electoral “deserts”. The problem particularly affects Labour voters in South West, South East and East of England where in 2017 almost a third of votes cast went to Labour, but over 85 per cent of seats were won by Conservatives. Millions of Labour voters in these regions do not live within do not live within 50 miles or more of a seat represented by a Labour MP.
Our current system distorts our politics and representation.
We call on Labour to include in its manifesto that we are now open to changing our voting system; to introduce a system under which the seats won by each party broadly match the votes cast, both in aggregate terms and within regions; and which retains the constituency - MP link.
Chichester Constituency Labour Party calls upon the Labour Party to reject "first past the post", the voting system currently used for General Elections, and to support the introduction of a form of proportional representation at all levels of government to ensure that all votes count equally and seats match votes. Chichester Constituency Labour Party additionally calls upon the Justice and Home Affairs Policy Commission of the National Policy Forum to consult the Party membership about their views on the above proposal in the next cycle of policy documents.
Eastleigh CLP calls upon the Labour Party to reject First Past the Post in all national and local elections in favour of a system of Proportional Representation in which all votes count equally and seats match votes. Additionally calls upon the National Policy Forum to consult the party membership about their views on this proposal in the next round of policy documents.
Our archaic electoral system is antidemocratic and not fit for purpose.
We need a properly representative and transparent electoral system where no vote is wasted. We need to change to a form of proportional representation for national elections. This should be one which allows M.P.s to keep their local constituency link. The voting age should be lowered to 16. Voting at weekends and the possibility of electronic voting should be investigated.
This party therefore calls upon the Labour Party to reject First Past the Post, the current voting system for General Elections, and to launch a consultation to choose a new voting system in which seats will broadly reflect the votes cast.
We call on the Labour Party to include proposals for reform in the Party’s manifesto for the next General election, with the declared intent that the new electoral changes will be put in place for the next general election.
Conference believes that Labour should go into the next general election open to changing the voting system we use to elect MPs by dropping its default position supporting first past the post. We need voting reform on the remit of the Constitutional Convention Labour is offering and argue for a voting system which reflects our values of equality and democracy, makes votes count, reaches out to safe Labour and Conservative seats, not just target marginals, and which illustrates how Labour will exercise power with the people.