Lancaster councillors call for equal votes

Lancaster City Council has called on the government to make the voting system for parliamentary elections more democratic.

The motion went before a meeting of full council last week, to ask the government to introduce Proportional Representation (PR) to elections for the House of Commons.

Currently the UK is one of two countries in Europe to use First Past the Post exclusively to elect Members of Parliament; the other being Belarus.

Under the current system, 71 per cent of voters were unable to effect the last election, and 'wrong winner' elections are possible, where the party with the most votes fails to win the most seats.

Lancaster City Council has called on the government to make the voting system for parliamentary elections more democratic.

Most developed democracies use PR, which ensures that the proportion of MPs a party has more accurately reflects the percentage of votes cast for them.

The motion was proposed by Coun Jack Lenox (Green), and seconded by Couns Gina Dowding (Green), Gerry Blaikie (Liberal Democrat), Mandy Bannon (Green) and Jason Wood (Labour).

Coun Phillip Black (Labour), who was the principal seconder, said: "I'm delighted that Lancaster added its voice to the chorus calling for PR to be implemented in parliamentary elections.

"I believe everyone who goes to the ballot box should feel empowered, that they have made their voice heard and that their vote really counts for something."

Coun Lenox said: “I'm absolutely delighted the 'Councils for PR' motion passed with cross-party support from so many councillors on Lancaster City Council.

"I believe the greatest problems we currently face as a country stem from a lack of proper representation of our people.

"For example, we – the British public – have consistently shown widespread support for greater climate action, but our elected representatives at Westminster continue to fall short.

"And the past few weeks have shown just how urgent this issue now is. However, as a long-time supporter of proportional representation, it feels like we're closer now to changing our electoral system than at any time in my adult life. We desperately need things to change."

Lancaster is one of several to have passed motions calling for voting reform, as part of ‘Councils for PR’, an initiative by campaign groups Make Votes Matter and Get PR Done to bring attention to existing faults in the voting system.

A spokesperson from Make Votes Matter North Lancashire said: “We're absolutely delighted that Lancaster City Council is one of the first councils in the country to pass a motion calling for Proportional Representation for House of Commons elections.

"We're really proud that our local councillors have led the way in this national 'Councils for PR' campaign, joining a growing list of councils, such as Forest of Dean and Kingston upon Thames, who are calling for a fairer voting system.

"Make Votes Matter is a cross-party organisation, so it's great to hear that our local councillors from different parties came together in support of this motion. We're hoping that councils in other parts of the north west will follow their example.”

A petition to MPs can be signed online at https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/sign-petition