proportional representation

Leading figures from major parties unite to secure electoral reform by 2021

5th February 2016
5 Feb 2016
proportional representation
electoral reform


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PR Alliance Building Conference will bring together high-profile politicians from every major party

  • Forward planning note from Make Votes Matter, for immediate release, 4th February 2016
  • Journalists will be able to interview speakers and participants
  • Date: Monday 8th February 2016, 13:30 - 18:00, followed by interviews, drinks and networking
  • Press accreditation and address available on request for journalists wishing to attend
  • For enquiries contact Klina Jordan on or 07813 336 618

Leading figures from all the UK’s major parties will come together next Monday (8th February) to discuss how to achieve a proportional voting system for Westminster elections by 2021.

It follows rumours that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are discussing a potential pact to secure PR after the next General Election [1], and a joint letter signed by several party leaders in the Independent on Sunday [2].

The conference, organised by Make Votes Matter [3], draws together figures from across the spectrum, with a high-profile platform of speakers and participants:

Keynote speakers:

  • Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
  • Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society
  • Diane James, MEP for SE England, & Home Affairs Spokesperson, UKIP
  • Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour
  • Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Labour
  • Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, Scottish National Party
  • John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform
  • Lord Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrats
  • Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour
  • Hywel Williams, MP and Parliamentary Leader, Plaid Cymru

Organisers see the event as an opportunity for all the main political parties, pro-PR organisations, representatives of local democracy groups and public figures to form alliances in order to secure a proportional voting system following the next General Election.

A spokesperson for Make Votes Matter said:

“Last May’s General Election was the most disproportionate election ever in the UK. Votes per MP elected varied dramatically from party to party, ranging from just over 23,000 votes to almost 4 million, and when one quarter of voters are represented by 1.5% of Parliamentary seats, we cannot say we have real democracy.

“To secure a proportional voting system, all the pro-PR parties and organisations need to find the best way forward together, so we excited to be creating a space to start the conversation. The PR Alliance Building Conference is a historic opportunity to work collaboratively towards creating and implementing an effective strategy to get PR for Westminster by 2021.”

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

Last year saw over half a million people and five political parties come together to sign and deliver petitions calling for a fair voting system, so this conference is a very welcome next step in the push for a truly democratic voting system.

“Nearly every European country uses a Proportional Representation (PR) system, and here in the UK, public support for PR is at an all-time high, with three quarters of the public in favour. It’s great to see citizens and leading political figures coming together to work out how best to secure a fair voting system.”

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, said:

“The fact that we have a government without any kind of democratic mandate - with only the support of 24% of eligible voters, combined with our unelected House of Lords, is doing serious damage to trust in our democratic process. It's almost a century since the last significant change in Westminster. It was 1918 when women got the vote - we should not go past the anniversary of that without seeing a change to a fair, proportional electoral system, in both the Commons and the upper chamber.”

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour, said:

“First Past The Post has had its day. We cannot carry on with a voting system that disenfranchises millions and where winning an argument with the British public is a different task to winning the votes required to form a government.  It is not sustainable and I doubt the British people will continue to stand for it.”

Lord Paul Tyler of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“The public are urging us to act together.  This Government is throwing its weight around with the support of less than a quarter of the eligible electorate – they would brand any other government in the world with that level of mandate as illegitimate.”

Diane James MEP, UKIP Home Affairs and Justice Spokesperson:

“At the last general election, UKIP got 4 million votes and only one elected MP. This is patently untenable and things cannot go on like this. The first past the post electoral system is clearly bankrupt. We must have an electoral system where votes cast match seats allocated and introducing a proportional system will deliver a result that is both fair and more democratic.”

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour:

“The First Past The Post electoral system distorts our democracy, encourages adversarial politics and divides people. With the constitutional foundations of our nation cracking the case for electoral reform has never been stronger. The PR alliance is a doughty campaigner on this vital issue, and I am honoured to have been invited to speak at this important event.”

John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform:

"Our electoral system is bust. Parliament no longer represents all the people of the United Kingdom. This democratic deficit has to be addressed. It is time for our political parties to come together to create a fair electoral system that will ensure that the views of all the people are taken into account".

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, SNP:

“The current electoral system alienates people from politics and widens the divide between government and the governed. The first past the post system is unfair, undemocratic, and long past its sell by date.”


  • 13:30 – 14:00 Arrival, refreshments and networking
  • 14:00 – 14:40 Welcome from Owen Winter, Member of Youth Parliament and Make Votes Matter Spokesperson, followed by introductions
  • 14:40 – 15:20 Keynote ideas about how each of the parties plans to get PR and how collaboration with other groups could make this more likely
  • 15:20 – 16:00 Cream tea and bubbly: making connections for ongoing collaboration
  • 16:00 – 16:40 Open Space: facilitated plenary session to establish working group topics  
  • 16:40 – 17:20 Working groups arising from plenary discussion
  • 17:20 – 18:00 Closing circle – reports back from the working groups about what has been agreed and how their ideas will be taken forward
  • 18:00 – 19:30 Press interviews, photo opportunities, drinks, nibbles and networking


Notes to Editors



[3] Make Votes Matter is a campaign organisation focused on getting Proportional Representation in the House of Commons by 2021. Their formation was triggered by the most disproportionate election in UK history, and they are a non-partisan, democratically-organised group with over 238,000 supporters. MVM’s Declaration for Voting Reform has been signed by hundreds of people, high profile figures and organisations, including Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society, the Green Party, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Frankie Boyle.

Former NZ minister Darren Hughes joins Electoral Reform Society

29th March 2012
29 Mar 2012
staff apointments
proportional representation
new zealand


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The Electoral Reform Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Darren Hughes to its senior team.

Hughes, 33, a former New Zealand Labour MP, government minister and opposition spokesperson joins the team in the new post of Campaigns and Research Director.

He will now lead the organisations day-to-day campaigns and lobbying activity as it prepares to tackle a diverse agenda from voter registration to women in politics and House of Lords reform. 

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said:

Britain urgently needs new ideas and fresh perspective on how politics can work, and that’s precisely what Darren offers.

While in Britain we’re stuck with a 19th Century democracy, New Zealand has moved on. We’re confident Darren has the skills and experience to help us win the argument for a new kind of politics.

Darren Hughes said he was motivated to be involved with the Society because of the big issues facing British democracy. Darren said:

Building a better democracy means valuing every vote, removing barriers to participation and ensuring representative bodies reflect the communities they are elected to serve. The Society is a modern and relevant voice articulating the case for change in those areas.

The Society works to continually improve the health of democracy in Britain so it can remain an example to the world. That’s the mission I’m looking forward to joining.”

New Zealanders turned their backs on First Past the Post for national elections in a referendum in the 1990s. A follow up vote last year saw the public vote to keep their proportional system.

Darren Hughes added:

I have had the privilege of being an MP both in government and opposition under PR. I have seen it deliver a more inclusive and fairer style of governance. While reform of the lower house is just one part of the Society’s work, the fact remains that the House of Commons has a direct impact on every person living in the United Kingdom so improving its effectiveness is critical.”

Katie Ghose added:

We believe that our democracy can be better, and Darren has seen what that means first hand. He will prove an invaluable asset to the team.

"New Zealand’s loss is our gain.”