Trade unions vote down on local Labor parties’ call to increase first past the post | Proportional representation

A much anticipated move by Working conference proposals to embrace proportional representation (PR) for future elections have been defeated as overwhelming support from local parties met with opposition from mass union votes.

The proposal calling for the next Labor government to first replace the post with some form of PR, was submitted by more than 150 constituency Labor parties (CLPs) and was the second most popular topic for the conference.

After an unconditional show of hands in the conference hall in Brighton, a short vote showed that almost 80% of the CLP votes backed the proposal. But the votes from subsidiaries – almost exclusively trade unions – were 95% against. The final result was almost 58% against.

Laura Parker of Labor for a New Democracy, who backed the proposal, said the vote showed that party members predominantly supported proportional representation and that Keir Starmer should have shown more support for the idea.

She said: “Trade unionists play a key role in our campaign, but despite this, most unions are not yet backing reforms. The truth is that if management had dealt with this unifying policy as intensively as they pushed their own proposed rule changes, PR would now be labor policy. ”

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, called the result “deeply disappointing”. He said: “We can only build a better policy and a fairer country with a fairer electoral system. We will continue to work with the many in the Labor Party and across all parties who want to see a fairer electoral system. ”

During a debate on the main conference stage, a number of local delegates backed the proposal, saying first past the post was to create a generation of apathetic young people.

“I see so few of my friends, in my generation, who are engaged in political activity, even though they are passionate about the issues. So many never show up to vote, ”said one. “We need to make sure that every voter, not just those sitting in swings, feels heard.”

The only speaker against the idea was Margaret Clarke of the GMB union, who called the proposal an “attempt to oblige the Labor Party to an unnecessary distraction in support of proportional representation”.

She said of PR: “It is unpopular. Voters rejected it overwhelmingly in a referendum in 2011. It is less responsible and breaks vital constituency links between hundreds of Labor MPs and their voters across the UK. It also risks handing over power to the far right of our parliament. ”

But other speakers pointed out that the 2011 referendum on a change in the voting system, which was run as part of the Liberal Democrats’ demand to join a coalition with the Conservatives, was about alternatively voting system, which is not proportional.

The motion claimed that only past the post created “electoral deserts” and “widespread disqualification, disillusionment and disconnection in politics”.

It said: “A voting system where every vote counts equally is needed to address the worrying levels of alienation, division and mistrust in British politics. Government work played a leading role in the introduction of forms of public relations for Britain’s disbanded government.

“There are PR systems that maintain a strong constituency link between MPs and their constituents, while ensuring that all votes count equally and seats match votes.”

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