‘It is time to change democracy’

Unite delegates' ‘historic vote’ to back PR in Westminster elections

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Unite has voted to back proportional representation for Westminster elections. The decision was taken at the Unite Policy Conference in Liverpool which closed today, October 22, after a week of Unite policy debates.

The motion that was carried noted that “the UK is one of only three major developed countries to use a ‘First Past the Post’ voting system for general elections.

“There is a consensus among experts that First Past the Post has a strong right wing bias wherever it is used, leading to parliaments and governments that are on average much more right wing that the voters.”

The motion backed that up by showing that, “Most votes went to parties to the left of the Conservatives in 18 of the last 19 general elections, yet the Tories have been in power for 63 per cent of this time.”

It continued, “Instead of building a society ‘for the many’, this has created one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, with some of the most restrictive trade union laws. This corresponds exactly with the UK’s experience.”

The motion also pointed out that as, “proportional voting systems are used in many other UK elections,” why shouldn’t it be used in the UK Parliamentary elections? “The UK is one of only three major developed countries to use a First Past the Post voting system for general elections,” it added.

Commenting on the vote, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Today, Unite Policy Conference voted to support Proportional Representation in Westminster elections for the first time in our history. 

“Our political class has failed working people and our system is broken. It is time to change our democracy.”

PR campaign groups welcomed the bold move by Unite delegates. The Labour for a New Democracy campaign said it was delighted with the result.

“This result will open up and encourage the debate with trade unionists in Unite and the wider Labour movement,” it said.

By Amanda Campbell, Pic by Mark Thomas

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