Making Votes Matter

Ian Stuart is one of our local Liberal Democrat members.  He recently visited Parliament to make the case for electoral reform to Sir Oliver Heald, our MP for North East Hertfordshire, and he’s written the following report for us:

It was a very interesting day organised by the group Make Votes Matter, who brought together representatives from around the country. After a briefing in a nearby church hall from national organisers and from two members of the House of Lords we made our way to Parliament in small groups for individually arranged meetings with MPs.

Security was very tight but we were relieved that the Brexit vote due to take place that same day had been postponed as otherwise MPs would understandably have potentially had to cancel at short notice.

I met Sir Oliver Heald in a Committee room (in fact next door to the room where the next day Prime Minister May held her party confidence vote!) and spent roughly 20 minutes discussing reform of the electoral system. He accepted that the current system is not ideal and needs reform although he has some reservations with regard to most PR systems, his primary concern being that it could lead to a weakening of the bond between MPs and the areas they represent. He accepted that Canada and the USA together with the UK are the only democratic countries that still use First Past the Post, but quite reasonably pointed out that the next 12 months will be extremely busy and that there is unlikely to be any movement towards reform in near future. A suggestion by myself that the current mess could perhaps have been avoided if we had a more representative House of Commons brought a wry smile!

It was an interesting and amiable conversation and to Sir Oliver’s credit he was very happy to engage with me, in contrast to many other MPs who I gathered had refused to meet with their constituents.

After the meeting, a group of 40 or 50 of us were addressed by Sir Vince Cable and Stephen Kinnock, both of whom took questions and encouraged us to keep up the pressure. Caroline Lucas of the Green Party also popped in.

I came away more than ever convinced that in order to achieve truly representative government in this country we need to reform our electoral system so that every vote matters.