Ed and Layla set out electoral reform hopes

It wouldn’t be a leadership election if we didn’t talk about PR at some point.

Layla and Ed have both written for the Electoral Reform Society setting out what they want to see in terms of changing our rubbish voting system.

Here are some highlights:


Under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would therefore look to establish a common cross-party statement of support for legislation for PR ahead of the next elections.

The aim would be to establish a firm pre-election commitment to PR with support from across different parties. Keir Starmer has voiced his support for a fairer, proportional voting system, and it’s becoming clear that Labour is being increasingly disadvantaged by First Past the Post. This means there is an important opportunity for all those who believe in electoral reform to deliver on it.

I believe that under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would be better placed to have these discussions with Labour and other political parties, and to help build a cross-party consensus for electoral reform.

Electing me as leader would send a strong signal that the Liberal Democrats are refreshed as a party and have put coalition behind us. That is why I am urging all those who believe strongly in electoral reform to support me at this election, so we can move forward together as a country and build a voting system in which everyone has a voice.


In respect of elections it is shameful that the United Kingdom continues to use the antiquated, First Past the Post System. I believe we should look to introduce a proportional system to both Westminster and local elections, at the earliest possible moment.

This is not just because the system is needed for both, but because the problem in some local areas is acute. There are areas which have become almost ‘one party states’ with votes for all mainstream parties being ignored and authorities left with little or no opposition scrutiny.

I am passionate about devolving power – all the more reason to make sure the scrutiny of these bodies is representative and effective. I believe there is an appetite to devolve powers from some in other parties and think making common cause on reforming our electoral process as we pursue this is a way to secure the changes we need.

Other areas around how we run elections are ripe for reform – we should introduce automatic voter registration to make it easier for people to vote and scrap the ridiculous plans to require voter ID at polling stations. The Conservatives’ desire to require ID creates another barrier and ends up with more people – likely from minority communities – not exercising their democratic right: it is indefensible.

I believe that we need to look at what works to improve diversity in politics. The use of All Women Shortlists led to the start of a breakthrough process in improving gender representation in the House of Commons. I want to explore BAME and all LGBT+ shortlists to push for change in those areas as well.

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  • Yes Tim was very clear.Layla too trusting, Ed hovering. If we are to have power in the future we have to have clear decisive leadership NOT ‘iffie’ positions.

  • Ed is the first of our potential leaders I remember even mentioning PR at local level. About time too. If we had gone for that rather than the nuclear option of Parliamentary (only) PR we might have a lot more say at local level across the country since then. From memory local PR wouldn’t need an Act of Parliament either, which goes to show the level of myopia we had in government.

  • Paul Barker 9th Aug '20 - 1:52pm

    Both Ed & Layla make interesting points but are unclear on whether they would reject a Coalition with Labour without a Guarantee of electoral Reform.
    It helps us to look at this from Labours point of view, any serious Reform would downgrade them from THE Alternative Government to just A Big Party. Their membership like the idea of reform but they are irrelvant, The MPs & Unions would fight Reform to the last ditch.

  • richard underhill. 9th Aug '20 - 5:30pm

    Paul Barker 9th Aug ’20 – 1:52pm
    Perhaps it is too soon, but Labour are under new management.
    Labour need to do a lot to recover the number of seats they lost under their previous leader.
    Not necessarily the same ones?

  • Ian,
    I don’t think the situation has changed in the last 100 years, but the Sligo Corporation Act of 1918 a private bill, introduced STV for their elections.
    See: https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/pr-the-sligo-borough-election-of-1919/
    However if, say, one of the councils we currently control were to present such a bill with the appropriate clauses, I’m not sure the Tories would let that pass the House of Commons!

  • Peter Martin 10th Aug '20 - 10:30am

    ” I am passionate about devolving power”

    Lib Dems are fond of saying this kind of thing. But what is really meant is the devolution of some responsibilities which isn’t quite the same thing.

    So, for example, the Scottish and Welsh government have the responsibility for deciding the anti Covid rules, on the wearing of face coverings, the extent of social distancing etc, but they don’t have the power, or the ability, to decide that 80% of wages can be covered under the furlough scheme. The best they can do is tweak tax rates up and down slightly.

    This would be nowhere near enough to cover what is actually being spent in the their economies.

    Similarly the question of going to war or the replacement of nuclear weapons or UK foreign policy generally, can only be decided by central government.

  • Don’t forget that local government elections in Scotland ALREADY use STV – part of the devolution measures worked out between Labour’s Robin Cook and Liberal Democrat Bob McLennan prior to the 1997 General Election, and then enacted by Tony Blair while he was still taking advice from Paddy.
    You will recall that the Coalition Agreement called for a referendum on PR for Westminster (which eventually became one on AV, a poor system, and which we lost), but nothing about local government. At the Special Conference in 2010, I successfully moved an amendment to the Lib Dem motion accepting the Coalition Agreement which called for Lib Dem MPs and peers to work on getting STV for English and Welsh councils, but nothing came of it. I was later told that was because the Conservatives were implacably opposed to any such thing.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Aug '20 - 5:08pm

    Both candidate support electoral reform that is hardly surprising. What matters is what happens when decisions need to be made. Do either really understand the essential need for this overdue change to the Party’s future achievements?

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