18 May 2015

Ukip and the Greens unite in calls for electoral reform

Ukip and the Greens were part of a cross-party delegation delivering a petition to Number 10 calling for electoral reform. Despite winning almost 4 million votes, Ukip have just one Westminster seat.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage took part in a cross-party delegation calling for reform to the first-past-the-post electoral system that frustrated his party’s Westminster ambitions.

Together with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, acting Liberal Democrat leader Baroness Sal Brinton and new Scottish National Party MPs Philippa Whitford and Alison Thewliss he presented a petition with almost half a million signatures gathered by multiple campaigns.

Mr Farage said the need for change was vital to ensure every vote placed counted equally.

“The results of the general election where five million votes, the views of five million people are now represented by only two MPs; four million people voted for Ukip, for only one seat. It cannot go on like this. It is important to be here, with the Electoral Reform Society supporting its campaign to make votes match seats.”

Unlike the other party leaders, he brought two members with him to the event – deputy chair Suzanne Evans and Ukip’s only MP Douglass Carswell.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said her party would have had 24 representatives in Parliament – instead of the single one they managed – if the first-past-the-post system was replaced by proportional representation. She said it was time for total reform.

“The recent election has demonstrated that we need real change in our constitution. We haven’t seen significant reform at Westminster since women got the vote, and that was 1918 – we shouldn’t get to the centenary of that without getting a fair voting system. We need a total rethink of the way we vote.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson said their landslide victory did not mean they would start supporting the “unfair” first-past-the-post system.

He said: “The Westminster system is badly in need of reform. The SNP has done well under first-past-the-post this time but we have always supported proportional representation and will continue to do so.

From an unrepresentative voting system to the unelected House of Lords, SNP MPs will be a strong voice in the coming years for the change we need to see.”

Liberal Democrat party president Baroness Brinton said Ukip’s vote share versus the number of seats they won showed how “outrageous” the current system was. Her party have long been advocates for electoral reform. She said: “I may disagree with what Ukip stand for, but for nearly four million people to vote for a party and have just one MP is just outrageous.”