Following on from the approval for the Proportional Representation approach by the Labour Party let us reflect on some of the details in the past. Here is an opportunity to have a look at some historic Early Day Motions that UK MPs have produced. We can see that there were a number of times in the past when MPs responded to PR. One of the interesting aspect was that in 1991 there were three EDMs raised by a small number of MPs and each of them referred to the text “This House regrets that Prince Charles has expressed views on the party political matter of proportional representation”. There were a number of others opposing PR, which did involve Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs. However there have also been several that have written positively about PR which have been endorsed by a wide range of MPs. The most significant EDM is one that was written by Chuka Umunna in October 2016 and I have provided his text below. Along with that EDM back on the 15th of January 2015 George Galloway wrote a piece which was endorsed by Paul Flynn who was the Labour MP for Newport West and three Liberal Democrat MPs John Leech, John Hemming and Andrew Stunell and the other MP who endorsed it was Mike Hancock. The text was
That this House believes that it is fundamentally undemocratic that around 200,000 floating voters in marginal constituencies will determine the UK’s next government and the fate of the country; notes that for millions who will vote they are participating in an empty charade; points out that this is one reason why people have lost faith in Parliament and politicians; and further believes that the best way to ensure that every vote counts is to have a system of proportional representation which will help re-establish faith in the political process.
Many years earlier in 2003 a Liberal Democratic MP John Barrett wrote this proposal and 17 of his Liberal Democratic colleagues endorsed it. It was entitled as Proportional Representation and Local Government Elections
That this House welcomes the partnership signed between the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties in Scotland which includes a commitment to deliver proportional representation for Scottish local government elections; believes that this move will ensure that local councils reflect better the communities they serve and will end the unhealthy one party state which have existed under first past the post; further believes that PR for local government, combined with the abolition of student tuition fees and the introduction of free personal care for the elderly, which has already been delivered by the Scottish Executive, illustrates the positive difference that devolution has made to Scotland; and calls on the United Kingdom Government to consider introducing similar measures for the rest of the country.
So the text from Chuka Umunna was as follows:
That this House welcomes the various collaborative campaigns to make votes matter by introducing a fair voting system; notes that petitions started since the 2015 general election calling for a fair voting system have gained over 500,000 signatures, and that recent polling suggests a significant majority of the public support moving to a more proportional system of electing hon. Members; further notes that the alternative vote system is not proportional and that the 2011 referendum gave no verdict on proportional representation; agrees that the current system of electing hon. Members is no longer fit for purpose; believes that the UK’s voting system should ensure that those who are entitled to vote have a vote that counts, and counts equally, no matter who they vote for or where they live; further believes that the share of seats a party gets should closely reflect the share of votes that people give them; and calls on the Government to bring forward legislation to introduce a system of proportional representation for elections to the House.
There were a total of 69 other MPs who endorsed his text. A number of them are no longer in Parliament which includes Chuka. However here are some of the people who are still in Parliament.
Labour: Barry Sheerman, Clive Lewis, David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Jonathan Reynolds, Margaret Hodge, Stephen Kinnock, Stephen Twigg and Wes Streeting
Green: Caroline Lucas
SNP: Alan Brown, Alison Thewliss, Angela Crawley, Angus Brendan MacNeil, Carol Monaghan, Chris Law, Chris Stephens, Deidre Brock, Douglas Chapman, Drew Hendry, Gavin Newlands, Hannah Bardell, Ian Blackford, Joanna Cherry, Kirsten Oswald, Kirsty Blackman, Marion Fellows, Martyn Day, Mhairi Black, Owen Thompson, Patricia Gibson, Peter Grant, Philippa Whitford, Ronnie Cowan, Stewart Malcolm McDonald, Stuart McDonald and Tommy Sheppard
Plaid Cymru: Hywell Williams and Liz Saville Roberts
Liberal Democrat: Alistair Carmichael and Sarah Olney
Let us hope that in the next few days we will get the MPs from Labour who have endorsed the PR approach in their Conference and perhaps we can find out if King Charles III is in support of it?