Where Labour currently stands on electoral reform

As The Guardian reports:

The Labour’s party’s national policy forum report agreed at the weekend … contained wording on electoral reform [for the House of Commons] that campaigners who favour proportional representation is significant.

This issue is problematic for Labour. At the party conference last year there was an overwhelming vote in favour of PR. But Keir Starmer is not keen, and PR has not been adopted as policy.

However, the NPF document does criticise first past the post. It says:

“The flaws in the current voting system are contributing to the distrust and alienation we see in politics, but there is no consensus for a new system. Any proposed change to our voting system must be carefully thought-through – it cannot be dictated by political leaders or forced upon the country from the top down.”

It’s a rather tortured compromise. Certainly Labour campaigners for electoral reform deserve credit for achieving at least the first sentence in the face of resistance from Keir Starmer’s team. But then the second sentence goes on to kick the first sentence into an implausible long grass.

The contrast between the two sentences reflects Labour’s long-running vacillations over electoral reform for the Commons and elections of any sort for the Lords. They more power they have to implement either, the less keen on both Labour becomes.

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4 responses to “Where Labour currently stands on electoral reform”

  1. Is it true that the Tories voted a change to election of mayors by a simple majority in the commons? Why not for a well-established system in Ireland North and South ie STV in say 6-member constituencies. Surely not a big deal to arrange…

  2. Unfortunately the Labour Party high command shows no interest in electoral reform as they think they can win under the rotting FPTP system. In 1997, Tony Blair was prepared to agree to PR and have Lib Dems in coalition with Labour but having won the election with 43% of the vote and 65% of the seats then decided to conveniently forget it probably intentionally.

    The only way Labour will agree to PR (hopefully STV) is if they have to agree to it as part of a confidence and supply arrangement with the Lib Dems after the next election (if they don’t get the majority they think they will get.). Generations of single Labour controlled local authorities in London and other inner city areas have been won each time with little more than 60% of the vote and the Labour Party will not give that up willingly or lightly despite public pressure. Indeed I have met Labourites who love FPTP as it reinforces the adversarial system of Con v Lab and the old two parties often thrive on the “red scare” or “blue scare”, ie negative voting to “keep the other side out”.

  3. Any MP/Councillor, elected on less than 50% of those who turned out to vote, does not have a mandate. If you have more against you than for you, then you are not their true representative.
    STV/PR in any form is about choosing, putting in order of preference, the ‘meals’ on the menu offered.
    FPTP is about voting for the person most likely to block the one you least want.

  4. In the long-run I think the country would stand to gain a lot by implementing some form of PR or STV. So many opinions are effectively disenfranchised in FPTP. Whether Labour (The Party) would stand to gain or not is hypothetical, as under a different voting system the party would itself be different, though I believe that the people of the UK are less right-wing than is reflected in our elected governments: The policies of the broader Labour movement would fare better under STV, in my opinion, and both Tory-led and Labour-led coalitions would serve the country better in partnership with the Lib Dems.

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