THE Labour Party conference has voted overwhelmingly for a manifesto commitment to introduce proportional representation for General Elections.
The vote emphasizes how popular changing the voting system has now become within the party.
Reforming the voting system has been a divisive issue within the party for decades. Tony Blair in 1997, when Prime Minister, and with the support of the Liberal Democrats, asked Roy Jenkins to head a commission on the voting system and report back on the matter. Jenkins did at the end of 1998, but following the 2001 Labour landslide victory, when Labour won 418 seats, it was all buried and forgotten about.
Nevertheless, this is a significant moment for democracy in the UK. Now all the major parties ( Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens), other than the Conservatives, are united on the need for electoral reform and are committed to delivering a fair electoral system where every vote counts.
The motion, backed by Labour party members and affiliated unions called for:
Labour to make a commitment to introduce proportional representation for general elections in the next Labour manifesto.
During its first term in office the next Labour government must change the voting system for general elections to a form of PR.
Labour should convene an open and inclusive process to decide the specific proportional voting system it will introduce.
The motion says that the form of PR used should retain constituency links.
The attention now will focus on what will Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Party leader, do. Although he has previously expressed an interest in proportional representation, of late he has also said that he does not see it as a priority and that its dubious whether he will include the commitment in the party’s manifesto for the next General Election.