Voting Reform - the government responds

This week, we received a response from the government to our petition for a fairer voting system, supported by almost 500,000 signatories and five party leaders. The government’s response is predictable but disappointing.

John Penrose, the new minister for constitutional reform, replied:

Thank you for your letter and accompanying petition...I appreciate your point, but the difficulty would be that we had a referendum on [changing the electoral system to Proportional Representation] in 2011...it would be pretty difficult to argue that we should go ahead anyway!

We hadn’t forgotten the referendum on the Alternative Vote. In 2011, we supported AV because it had some clear advantages over the existing voting system. But AV is not a proportional voting system - it wouldn’t ensure that the seats in Parliament matched the votes cast.

In fact, some research suggests that if the 2015 election had been run under AV, the Conservative majority would have been even larger despite winning just 37% of the vote. The British public have never been given the opportunity to vote for a system which ensures that seats match votes, because John Penrose’s party made sure that it wasn’t on the ballot in 2011. We will never know what the public would have decided had they been given a real choice.

The government can’t go on treating the result back in 2011 as the final word on our voting system. 60% of the public agree that the seats a party wins should match the proportion of votes they receive. With smaller parties attracting more votes than ever, our voting system is getting more unfair, not less. It has just produced the most disproportionate election result in British political history. Two parties received five million votes between them, but won just two seats in Parliament.

That’s why we’re fighting to keep voting reform on the agenda. You can help us take the next step for a fairer voting system by joining Unlock Democracy today. We’re helping Unlock Democracy members to take the fight for fairer votes to Parliament and organise the Saturday 25th July.