Political reformers launch 'Take Back Parliament' campaign

By staff writers
May 7, 2010

It is being estimated that some 22 million votes cast in the UK General Election will have no direct bearing on the outcome. This means Parliament will not be properly representative and democratic, say political reformers.

With a hung parliament now certain, and legal challenges possible over many hundreds of people not being allowed to vote, because of the inability of polling stations to deal with late queues, the system is also being questioned as never before, suggest those behind a new campaign for PR and reform.

The 'Take Back Parliament' civic initiative was launched last night, within minutes of the first BBC exit poll suggesting a huge disproportion between votes cast and the probable outcome in terms of seats.

A wide range of civil society groups have come together under the 'Take Back Parliament' banner to call for a fair voting system.

They include Power2010, the Electoral Reform Society, the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia, Unlock Democracy, the New Economics Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Make Votes Count, Operation Black Vote, Greenpeace, the Fawcett Society (closing the inequality gaps for women) and others.

"We now have a once-in-a-generation chance to fix the political system after Britain's broken election," a spokesperson said.

"We hope people will join the new campaign to 'take back Parliament' (http://www.takebackparliament.com/hope) - starting with a petition and the Demo for Democracy near parliament in central London on Saturday 8 May."

Protests are also being organised in Manchester, Bristol, Oxford, Middlesborough and Glasgow.

The campaign's statement of purpose in full reads:

We are demanding a fair voting system so that we have a Parliament which properly represents the British people.

One hundred years on, in the wake of a shamefully biased election result, we must join together in a new fight for democracy and political equality.

Take Back Parliament (http://www.takebackparliament.com/hope) brings together a coalition of different groups and organisations in the call for fair votes. It is not aligned to any political party - instead it seeks a fair voting system so that all parties have representation in Parliament according to the number of votes they receive.

Our "winner takes all" system of First-Past-The-Post is bust beyond repair.

It produces unfair and undemocratic results which don't reflect the wishes of the British people.

It empowers a few thousand voters in "marginal" seats who decide elections, while those in "safe" seats, where the MP has a large majority, are ignored.

And it hands huge power to the ruling party based on a tiny proportion of the vote.

It is time for the UK to move to a proportional system that ties a party's share of seats to its share of votes across the country. This is the fairest system. It would ensure everyone's vote counts; it would offer voters more choice and it would produce a government and Parliament that represents the British people.

But any change in our voting system must be led by the people, not politicians. We are calling for a Citizens Convention to be convened to decide on a new voting system to be put to the people in a referendum.

With a nod to history this is a purple-coloured movement. Purple is the historic colour of democracy and the franchise in this country - the colour used by suffragettes in their campaign for the vote.

The purple index finger in our logo is a symbol of the movement. The simple act of holding up a purple index finger (using ink, marker etc) is an immediate action that people do to show that although they voted, this Parliament doesn't represent them and that they demand a new system. Upload your photo now: here

We're also urging those who support us to show their participation by wearing purple - a tie to work, use purple on Facebook and Twitter.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.