Parties team up to call for PR
Politicians from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties joined forces to press Tony Blair.

By Mark Cobley
Published May 17th 2005 in
The parliamentarians joined campaigners from pressure group Make Votes Count on Tuesday in a protest outside the Houses of Parliament as the Queen's Speech was under way.

Some of the protestors were gagged to make the point that many voters have no effective voice.

Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield; Danny Alexander, Lib Dem MP for Inverness East Nairn & Lochaber; and Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, were among the elected representatives taking part.

Lord Lipsey, a Labour Peer and chair of Make Votes Count, also attended.

Nina Temple, director of the Make Votes Count campaign said it wasn't good enough for Tony Blair to dismiss electoral reform out-of-hand.

"There was a general feeling after this election that the voting system didn't give people their proper voice," she said.

"The Labour government was returned with a reduced majority, despite less than a fifth of voters supporting them. It doesn't give the government a dramatic mandate.

"In the Labour manifesto there was a commitment to review the PR systems used in Wales, Scotland and for European Elections.

"In 1997, they promised that a referendum remained the best way to decide whether PR would be introduced. Our aim is to push them back to that position."
Call for public review

Earlier this morning, the campaigners handed a letter to 10 Downing Street calling for the publication of a government review into the Scotland and Wales systems.

The campaign's wider aims are a full review and a referendum on proportional representation.

Jean Lambert said: "The current voting system is disproportionate, distorts public opinion, and must be reformed.

"It makes it extremely difficult for new voices like the Greens to be heard."

Green Party chair Hugo Charlton, who also attended the protest, added:

"People elect Greens whenever they have been given a chance to vote under proportional representation.

"Yet first-past-the-post elections force people to exercise a 'fear vote' against parties they don't want rather than for the parties they believe in. What kind of democracy is that?"

The protest comes on the same day that an NOP poll for the Independent found a big rise in public support for proportional representation.

The newspaper devoted its front page to the headline claim that 62 per cent now back electoral reform.