Holyrood to vote on reform for Westminster elections

For immediate release 27 April 2010

The Scottish Greens will this week bring a vote to Holyrood on proportional representation for Westminster, and have today urged all parties to support a call for the true balance of public opinion to be reflected in election results. The current discredited system means people in safe seats regularly see their votes going to waste, and allows a party receiving a minority of votes to win a clear and undemocratic majority of seats. In 2005, Labour won 55% of the seats contested with just 35.2% of the vote, a majority of the public voted for a losing candidate, and barely a third of all MPs were backed by a majority of their constituents. (pdf)

Robin Harper MSP said:

"This Westminster election may be wide open, but its discredited electoral system will still leave the public with a House of Commons which bears little relation to the way they cast their votes next week. At the last UK election, most people voted against their local MP, and barely a third of votes delivered Labour a whopping majority. It's no wonder confidence in politics has fallen so low: an unfair electoral system mixed with an expenses scandal makes for a toxic cocktail.

"First past the post was designed for the two-party system of the 18th century, and is now well past its sell-by date. This Parliament is Scotland's Parliament too, and MSPs must speak up for their constituents on this issue. The Commons is tasked with representing a very diverse set of nations, where increasing numbers of people are rejecting the identikit centre-right politics of the main parties. The rotten boroughs were swept away in the 19th century, and it's now time to reform a rotten Parliament.

"Generations of establishment MPs have protected a system that favours their parties but which seriously disadvantages the public. This must not be allowed to continue. Any government should either be backed by a majority of the electorate or be prepared to work as a minority administration. Fairer votes have worked at Holyrood, they've worked in Scottish local government, and the time has come to bring reform to the Houses of Parliament too. I urge my colleagues in other parties to back this call for Holyrood's successful use of proportional representation to inspire reformers in the last bastion of wasted votes and over-powerful minorities."

The Green motion to be debated this week reads as follows:
That the Scottish Parliament believes that the current UK General Election must be the last to use the discredited First Past The Post electoral system, and that the Single Transferable Vote is the best way to ensure that the public receive the democratic representation they deserve in future.