Update 28Mar2021 (current signatories: 20,317): I’ve just had an email from Open Britain requesting donations to the PR2028 campaign. I’m chipping in a few quid a month; I think this matter is too important not to. Whether you agree is of course up to you!
Deadline February 2022; petition link; signatories @23Mar2021: 15,460
We the undersigned, call on the [UK] government to establish a national citizens’ assembly to consider how different forms of proportional representation might improve public confidence in, and engagement with, the democratic system, and to make recommendations to Parliament.Please consider adding your name to the petition
In view of the likely timing of the next General Election, and the need for each political party to consider whether and how the assembly’s report will feed into their election manifesto, we call on the Government to confirm its intentions by February 2022.
A decade ago, we in the UK had the chance to amend our electoral system to give more people a voice; the Alternative Vote referendum. Unfortunately, this attempt to improve things failed — I believe that this was due to the misinformation disseminated by both the Conservative and Labour parties. They are incentivised to keep the ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP) system as it benefits both of them; it gives more direct power to whichever of them wins each election, and under FPTP, only one of them can — but one of them will.
I also believed at the time that the failure of that referendum would put an effective halt to any further moves to change our electoral system, for years, on the grounds that ‘the people have decided’. And I was right about that. But, hopefully, times they are a-changing….
Open Britain announces the launch of ‘PR2028’
This is the text of the email (dated 20Mar2021) that was forwarded to me by my brother:
Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of PR2028, our new campaign to bring about Proportional Representation for UK General Elections by 2028, at the latest.
In recent years it has become increasingly clear that our First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system no longer meets the needs and expectations of 21st Century electors. The ‘winner takes all’ nature of FPTP breeds destructive ‘win at all costs’ behaviours that undermine efforts to find common ground and build consensus. FPTP leaves millions of voters disillusioned and disengaged. As we enter a period of significant change for our country, it is essential that our democratic system drives open debate about the future we want to build, and involves the widest possible range of people. The outdated electoral system at the heart of our democracy is getting in the way of that and it needs to change.
Since embarking on our current mission of ‘Making Democracy Work…For Everyone’ last year, many of our supporters have urged us to add our energy to the work already under way to make PR a reality. With the launch of PR2028, I am glad that we will be able to work alongside organisations such as Make Votes Matter and the Electoral Reform Society to push this important cause. In the coming weeks, I look forward to discussing our plans with other campaigns to ensure we add value where it is most needed.
You may be wondering why we have focussed our campaign on the year 2028. Well, 2028 will be the centenary of the Equal Franchise Act of 1928, the legislation that finally gave women in the UK equal voting rights. (Some rights had been won in 1918 but it was not until 1928 that true equality was achieved.) We think that centenary provides a fitting deadline for the achievement of a reform that will ensure millions of voices currently excluded from the democratic process can finally be heard. For the avoidance of doubt, we see 2028 as an absolute deadline…if we can help make PR a reality before then, so much the better!
Our two immediate priorities are to raise public awareness of the benefits of proportional representation and to challenge the government to call a national citizens’ assembly to consider which form of PR best suits the needs of our country as it navigates its post-Brexit, post-Covid future. We believe citizens’ assemblies have an important role to play in our future democracy and that they are a particularly good way of answering questions like this. We are so convinced of this that, if by February of next year the government has not accepted our call for a national citizens’ assembly, we will ask fellow campaigners to work with us to establish an independent one.
For that reason, we are today launching a petition designed to gauge public appetite for a citizens’ assembly on PR. We hope that petition will demonstrate significant support for the idea and help make the case to government. So please, sign the petition, share it with your friends and family, and forward it to all your contacts on social media. The bigger that petition, the more chance we will have of replacing our unfair ‘winner takes all’ electoral system.
Let me finish with a huge ‘thanks’ to you and the hundreds of thousands of others who support makes all our work possible. We know that you are as passionate as we are about making the UK the best possible version of itself. We know from the battles of the past that you are fearless and resolute when standing up for the values we all share. And we know that, like us, you will not be bullied by this cowardly government’s attempt to stifle legitimate peaceful protest. As we grow this campaign, we look forward to using the strength of our movement to ensure the UK is a place where democracy truly works for everyone.
Best wishes,Mark Kieran, CEO, Open Britain