Inside and outside of Parliament there are some very high profile people who are working very hard to find ways to reform our nations Politics. The image on the left came from this article in the Independent Newspaper back on the 4th January when Stephen Dorrell stated that the current first-past-the-post system has allowed “a small clique” around Boris Johnson to impose its will on the rest of the UK while disenfranchising millions of voters. Stephen Dorrell used to be part of Margaret Thatcher’s administration and was the health secretary under John Major, but he is now a member of the Liberal Democratic Party. He was issuing an appeal to Keir Starmer to lead a cross-party “progressive alliance” to drive through reform of the UK’s democratic system in the wake of Brexit. Apparently he told Starmer it was time for him to “rise above your legitimate concerns as leader of the Labour Party and take on the mantle of national leadership as leader of the opposition” by building a broad movement to deliver “a new politics”.
Then last week this piece emerged from the Electoral Reform Society written by Tara Azar that “MPs step up parliamentary push for electoral reform with new cross-party campaign”. It is clear that although the number of Conservatives involved are modest in public at least, that all other parties are positively in favour of this approach. The Parties that have the most to lose from this sort of situation are Labour in parts of England and SNP in Scotland. Yet both of those parties were very much in support of this.
The image above on the right hand side of the Stephen Dorrell image is a series of photographs from the Lewes District Council. The top three people are James MacCleary the current Council Leader and the leader of the Liberal Democrats. Zoe Nicholson the leader of the Green Party and Chris Collier leader of the Labour Party and they are each taking in turns each year to manage the District working in partnership with one another. The two people under these three leaders are the shared leaders of the Independent Councillor group, Ruth O’Keefe and Steve Saunders who are also working with the three parties to make Lewes District much more effective than if they were all opposed to one another and being led by the Conservatives.
So going back to the the ERS article the cross-party group – the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Electoral Reform – is working towards a more proportional voting system for all UK elections, while pushing for other reforms to boost democracy at Westminster. The APPG, supported by the ERS and Make Votes Matter (MVM) has launched on Thursday 11th February. Its goal is to bring together MPs and peers to ‘secure policy change for greater democracy in the voting system and process, to champion accountability and the voice of voters’. The APPG will also look at voting rights in the UK, including not only elections to the Commons but also elections for the currently unelected House of Lords. The only Conservative who is publicly supporting this is actually a member of the House of Lords. The list of supporters include Alex Sobel from Labour who is Chairing the APPG and Caroline Lucas who is my MP and one of two Green party members, the Conservative Party member is Lord Northbrook.
So the question has to be how do we in our own settings support this attempt to reform our nations politics. I look forward to seeing some Independent people from the House of Lords and outside of Parliament getting involved in this process. There is also a need to find other Councils such as Lewes where the minority Council groups can begin to work together and potentially take over from the dominant parties so that we get a much more cooperative approach across the whole of our nation. After all most dominant groups represent a much smaller group of votes than the rest of the political groups who happen to have been given a lot more votes than the first past the post leaders.