Tag Archives: #hungry4democracy

The #Hungry4Democracy fast begins

As I wrote yesterday, I’m joining Sal Brinton, Stephen Kinnock, Natalie Bennett, Polly Toynbee and a few hundred others in fasting for 24 hours. It’s organised by the Make Votes Matter campaign and it’s to highlight that our democracy is broken and how badly we need Proportional Representation at Westminster.

Just before 8pm, I finished my meal of Macaroni Cheese and oven chips (going for the carb loading there) and that’s it until 8pm tomorrow. Unlike the brave women of the early 20th century  who went on hunger strike and endured unspeakably cruel force feeding, I doubt I’ll get to the end of the day without some significant whinging. It is very not like me to go without food for any reason. I expect I’ll whinge a lot less if some of you contribute to the fundraiser that’s going alongside it. The funds will be split between Make Votes Matter, the Fawcett Society and the food bank charity, The Trussell Trust.

So why am I doing it? Well, I’m lucky. My vote has elected someone to Westminster. Once. in 30 years and 8 elections. That’s just not good enough. In most of the country, the result of any election to the Westminster Parliament is a foregone conclusion. It first struck me as a teenager back in 1983 when there was less than 2.5% between Labour and the Liberal/SDP Alliance, yet Labour got 209 seats and we got 23.

We might all have a vote, but we really don’t get the Parliament we ask for. Channel 4 did an analysis after last year’s election of what the House of Commons might have looked under first past the post, the alternative vote and two PR systems. It’s a game changer. I don’t think it actually reflects how people would vote in those circumstances though, because there would be less need for polarisation. People would be able to freely vote for the party of their heart, or at least the one that comes closest.

Unlike a woman born 100 years before me, there was never any doubt that I would be able to vote. I’d like all my votes to count, though. As a Scot I am lucky enough to cast my local election vote by Single Transferable Vote and my Scottish Parliament vote has a top-up Additional Member System list.

Sadly, I’m being short-changed on my Westminster vote. It doesn’t work as well and it’s time for that to change. There haven’t been many governments that actually command the majority of the voters. In fact, Thatcher’s mammoth 1983 win gave her huge amounts of power that she didn’t deserve. She had a whacking great majority in parliament on less than half of the popular vote. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarStimpson 24th Jan - 1:31pm
    Voters need to be educated that socialism and nationalism are dangerous philosphies which will plunge them into poverty. Just because they may support the monarchy,...
  • User AvatarGlenn 24th Jan - 1:09pm
    As Richard says there is no parliamentary cross party unity, so a national government of unity is not going to happen. The other problem is...
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 24th Jan - 1:08pm
    On a related note: Tim Farron on PMQ yesterday. Is he still in politics?
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 24th Jan - 1:06pm
    @ Stimpson, I just wondered if you ever get out and about to talk to ordinary people? You may not like what they say but...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 24th Jan - 12:41pm
    David Raw, I was at a reception a few years back (as treasurer of the Irish Liberal Democrats) where the Irish ambassador was speaking about...
  • User AvatarRichard Church 24th Jan - 11:52am
    Since there is no unity to deliver a people's vote, there can be no government of national unity. If we finally get to the point...