The push for PR gathers momentum

I am proud to have written the motion on a fairer voting system that was recently adopted by ASLEF at their Annual Assembly of Delegates. However, in a democratic union like ASLEF, success is only achieved with the support of branch delegates from across the railway network. I am particularly grateful to my colleague who put the motion to the floor and spoke so well on the importance of Proportional Representation, enabling the motion to get over the line.

ASLEF now joins the growing number of unions who have put their support behind PR. I believe it is time for a fairer voting system which will result in the whole of the UK having an equal say on who governs, rather than a few thousand people in swing seats. The current adversarial system of politics doesn’t work well for the UK. We need to end the tribalism and let go of the culture of the ‘winner takes all’ approach. Good politics needs a fairer voting system that doesn’t leave large numbers of people feeling that they don’t have a voice. Further, a fairer voting system as a flagship policy of Labour’s next manifesto will put clear water between us and a Tory government who are rapidly dismantling the checks and balances of our democracy. Proportional Representation won’t fix all the issues in our society, but it’s a good start!

The full text of the motion below:

“This AAD notes that the ‘First Past the Post’ system means that for
many people in parliamentary constituencies across the UK the act of
voting is just a ritual, with little prospect of unseating the incumbent
MP. This results in just a handful of ‘swing seats’ deciding the
outcome of a General Election.

In the 2015 General Election only 12% of seats changed hands. In
2017, despite voters switching allegiance in numbers greater than in
any General Election since 1931, only 11% of seats changed hands.

The ‘winner takes all’ scenario created by the ‘First Past the Post’
system risks governments taking office with large majorities, while
voted into power by a minority of the electorate, as is the case with
the current government. Governments elected in this way are in
essence ‘elective dictatorships’ with few checks and balances to their

Many votes are essentially wasted, either by being surplus to
requirements in safe Labour seats, or pointless in a safe Tory seat.
This leads to apathy and effectively disenfranchises millions of voters
across the UK.

This AAD believes that it is time for a fairer voting system where
every vote counts.

This AAD adopts a position of support for electoral reform in the form of proportional representation and instructs the EC to lobby the ASLEF parliamentary group to
press for proportional representation to be included as a flagship
policy in the next Labour manifesto.”

Many thanks to ASLEF ‘Waterloo Nine Elms’ branch for an amendment to the original motion (an addition to the last paragraph) which improved it significantly!

Amendment in full, which was carried by the AAD: Amendment A Waterloo Nine Elms (222) Delete “we instruct” and replace with “This AAD adopts a position of support for electoral reform in the form of proportional representation and instructs.”

You can find out more about the benefits of PR and the different systems below:

Julian Vaughan

26th May 2021

Julian Vaughan (@juliman66) / Twitter

Julian Vaughan | Facebook

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