Below is the text of a conference motion which LDER have submitted for debate at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference this year. We are now waiting to find out whether the motion will be selected for this year’s agenda, and will report back to our members and supporters once this is known.
We would like to thank all of the individual Liberal Democrat members and local parties and who have supported the motion.
Conference Motion: Prioritising Proportional Representation
i. The result of the 2015 General Election was even more undemocratic than usual, with the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and UKIP gaining approximately one quarter of the total number of votes cast, but only 10 seats out of 650, while the Scottish Nationalists won 56 seats with about 4% of the votes cast.
ii. Opinion Polls show that this result has led to a sharp and sustained increase in support for Proportional Representation (PR).
iii. The results of local elections in England and Wales continue to be even less democratic than those in Westminster; whilst the system for local elections in Wales is now a devolved matter, in England it remains under the control of Westminster.
iv. The House of Commons and local authorities in England and Wales are the only UK public bodies elected using First-Past-the-Post (FPTP).
a. Support for insisting on PR for the House of Commons as part of any future coalition deal, from Tim Farron and Norman Lamb during the 2015 leadership election, and from Nick Clegg earlier this year.
b. That other parties, including the SNP, Plaid, UKIP, Greens and some in Labour, are increasingly vociferous on the need for PR and are regularly engaged in cross-party discussions on this issue.
i. The Government of any nation should be “Of the people, by the people, for the people”; therefore, the test of an electoral system should be not how fair it is to political parties, but how fair it is to people.
ii. The continued use of FPTP distorts all aspects of government and politics and thereby undermines every other Liberal Democrat objective; its replacement with PR should therefore be the top priority for the Liberal Democrats. Insistence on PR is consequently justified, in light of its unique impact as an enabler for everything else the Liberal Democrats wish to achieve.
Conference further believes that the case for the urgent introduction of PR is now overwhelming following the EU Referendum, which demonstrated the extent to which FPTP has allowed politicians to become distanced from the people they purport to represent.
Conference reaffirms existing policy in favour of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) as the system of PR that best delivers fairness to people.
Conference calls for:
1. Liberal Democrats to make the campaign for PR a top priority, taking the lead nationally and making the case on the basis of fairness to people.
2. The Federal Party to ensure that in any future negotiation of a coalition government, the Liberal Democrats will insist on a clear commitment to the earliest possible introduction of PR for the Westminster Parliament and local authorities in England.