Islington marchers call for reform to UK voting system

Members of Make Votes Matter North London marched through the city to advocate for proportional representation

Members of Make Votes Matter North London marched through the city to advocate for proportional representation - Credit: Make Votes Matter North London

Islington residents joined protesters across the UK last week to call for a reform to Britain's electoral system.

They were among hundreds that marched in support of proportional representation on Saturday, June 11 as part of an event organised by campaign group Make Votes Matter.

The event, inspired by the Great Pilgrimage made by women’s suffrage campaigners in 1913, saw campaigners from all over the country walk along six different routes to converge in London.

Barry Edwards, an Islington resident who attended the protest, said: “My thanks to everyone who took part in the events across the country, and especially to the Islington contingent in the London rally.”

Protesters from Islington joined other London groups in marching through Hyde Park to Speakers’ Corner. 

This follows increasing concerns that the current system used in general elections, first past the post (FPTP), denies voters their voice in Parliament and encourages tactical voting.

According to Make Votes Matter, the use of FPTP meant 71 per cent of voters were unable to affect the outcome of the last general election, held in 2019. 

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Holly Morgan-Davies, grassroots engagement leader at Make Votes Matter, said: “Polling is consistently in favour of reform, and it’s time the public were listened to on this issue. 

“Despite all that the suffrage campaigners achieved a century ago, votes in this country are still not counted equally and this needs to change.”

Under FPTP, parties win seats if candidates representing them earn the most votes in their constituencies.

This is unlike proportional representation systems which see parties awarded seats in direct accordance to their vote share, leading some to believe they are more democratic.

Critics have said that the current system allows government's to be easily formed (such as the Labour election win in 1997) and also stops extreme parties from gaining any seats (for example, the far right Alternative für Deutschland has been able to form an influence in Germany under a proportional representation system). 

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities spokesperson said: “The government was elected on a manifesto commitment to continue to support first past the post, which is a simple and fair system, is well-understood by voters, and provides for strong and direct local accountability.

“The Elections Bill will stamp out the potential for voter fraud and bring consistency to the way people vote across the United Kingdom.”