Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley, co-leaders of the Green Party, wrote to the three candidates offering support and dialogue “in the collegial spirit that these times demand” and asking them to approve the transition to a form of PR voting.
“We cannot continue to let our democracy be distorted by a system where many are excluded, politics is not led by those whose voices must be heard and where the votes do not match the seats,” they say.
Three-quarters of Labor Party members support proportional representation, according to a YouGov poll conducted shortly after the December general election, which produced the worst labor performance since 1935. But the party fought to adopt without reserve policy.
The Labor Party leadership campaign, muted in its final weeks by the coronavirus crisis, ended Thursday and the winner among the last three candidates – favorite Sir Keir Starmer, pro-Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey and outsider Lisa Nandy – will be announced on Saturday. .
Berry told the Guardian that the Covid-19 emergency had highlighted the problems of the first-past-the-post system, which is based on bipartisan domination. She said the crisis meant that voters wanted their elected representatives to work together, but the system discourages cooperation.
“Fairer political systems force politicians to move away from scoring rivalries and tribalism and lead to better results,” she said. “The evidence on this covers health, income inequality, quality of life, environmental protection and education, and even shows countries [with fairer electoral systems] tend to have lower national debt levels and deficits. “
The climate crisis, which the three Labor candidates have promised to prioritize, is a key example of a vital issue that transcends traditional party lines, but on which cooperation has been stifled by the current system, he said. she declared. “Like the coronavirus, we will not be able to cope with the climate emergency without working together, and the first-past-the-post system seriously hampers our ability to do so. “
The three Labor candidates indicated their support for electoral reform, without giving detailed plans. Starmer called for a new constitutional convention to address issues such as “the fact that millions of people vote in safe seats and feel that their voices do not count”. Long-Bailey also supported a constitutional convention without explicitly recommending public relations for the House of Commons, and Nandy expressed some support, but did not wholeheartedly support it.
Worker voters would win as well as the Green Party through a new electoral system, according to Berry. Despite a 2.7% share of the vote in the last election, the Greens still led only one member, Caroline Lucas, at the Brighton Pavilion. In the form of proportional representation used in elections to the European Parliament, the Greens would have won 12 seats. The Labor party, with 32% of the vote, would have won 14 more seats than its total of 202 and the majority of the 80 conservatives would have evaporated.
“All voters benefit from a fairer electoral system, no matter which party they support, because if the voices match the seats, people’s opinions really matter and our democracy is strengthened,” said Berry. Support for small parties is artificially removed in the first-past-the-post system, with voters choosing the least bad option if they believe their preferred candidate is unlikely to win.
The experience of the coronavirus crisis will increase people’s appetite for a fairer electoral system, said Berry, giving the next Labor leader the opportunity to make radical changes to the party’s approach.
She drew a parallel between workers who have often been undervalued in terms of pay and by governments, and voters who feel they do not have much influence over politicians.
“The huge change in attitude about the workers who do the work that really makes our society alive – not just NHS staff but teachers, supermarkets, delivery drivers, social workers and many other jobs that were previously undervalued – is a new perspective that we must not forget. I hope people keep these values in mind [after the crisis wanes], ” she said.
“It is vital that the public trusts their vote and that their voices are heard.”