How much is your vote worth? It used to be true that peoples’ votes were literally bought, but rotten boroughs are long gone. Struggles for fairer voting systems have had a huge impact. The 1880s saw men gain the right to vote. 2028 will be the hundredth anniversary of women over 21’s right to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections. And, 2018 will be the 100th Anniversary of the first woman being elected to parliament, Constance Markievicz. (To settle many a pub quiz, no, it wasn't Lady Astor!)
These gains owe much to left and progressives, trade unions both in and outside of work. So why is there now such conservatism when it comes to changes to our voting system? The TUC's recent decision to look into electoral reform is a welcome one.
The tired arguments we keep hearing against reform have been disproved by recent political events. We had a coalition under first past the post. And, on the flip side, we couldn't get a majority Government. Look what happened in Scotland. We don’t have accountability to local electors, because over 60% of seats never change their party stripe. That why we have battle ground seats on TV during election night. But did Paddy ever eat his hat? How odd for a party that elected its leader under STV to support FPTP.
Any discussion on change needs to be about a range of issues. According to data gathered by Gloria De Piero MP, 800,000 people have dropped off the electoral register, many due to the changes on new voter registration. Now, where is my National Insurance number? These are not arcane matters. How we register, who can vote, when we vote, the system we use, how much money is in politics – they all need to be addressed now.
Everyone's vote then might be nearer equal value if we do. One person one value.
Billy Hayes, Mitcham and Morden CLP