Putting voting reform on the agenda

It wasn't long ago that Michael Sheen made a speech at an NHS Rally that went viral. "You must stand up for what you believe, but first of all by God make sure you believe in something." This speech was of course about defending the NHS. But he also referenced "all those who have turned their backs on a truly democratic society" and practically screamed at them to get out.

As I have got older I have become more politically engaged. I'm 32 now, living in a marginal constituency where I fundamentally disagree with the 2 parties fighting out this marginal seat and will vote for neither. This will be the third General Election I vote in and the third General Election where my vote will not help to deliver an MP to Westminster. I've always voted and encouraged others to do so. I always will, but it gets harder to convince people their vote matters when for the most part our broken system ensures that it doesn't.

Today a huge number of people will be excited to vote for the first time, little realising that how much their vote matters depends entirely on where they live. Today millions of people will step outside of their house to cast a tactical vote aimed not at the party they believe in but the party they believe has the most chance of keeping out a party they disagree with. Today millions more will cast votes that count for nothing. All this is in the name of the FPTP system, a system designed to deliver stable majority governments that will have failed to do so twice in a row. It is one thing to accept an unfair system that works, but an unfair system that fails on its own terms simply has to be changed.

Prior to this week I had never started an internet petition. Prior to this week I had never blogged. But something inside me has gradually changed and it probably started around the time of Michael Sheen's speech and came to a head after reading Caroline Lucas' book Honourable Friends which makes the case for both Electoral and Parliamentary Reform better than I ever could. So I started an internet petition, and blogged pieces in support of it


In the coming weeks there will be more petitions. The time for this issue is now. It transcends the politics of individual parties and that should encourage us to be united. We should be a multi-party coalition pushing for change to an outdated system. Signing your name next to a petition might tell the government what you believe, but backing as many petitions as you can shows how strongly you feel it. You must stand up for what you believe, and if you believe in Electoral Reform by God make sure they know it.

Guest blogger: Mark Ballard