The movement to Make Votes Matter
Make Votes Matter is the cross-party campaign for Proportional Representation (PR) in the House of Commons. Formed by frustrated voters after the most disproportionate general election in British history in 2015, we've had a huge impact on a tiny budget.
When the snap election was called earlier this year, we produced - in a matter of weeks - a detailed report on why Labour should commit to PR, with a foreword by prominent Labour MPs and jointly published with the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform . During the election campaign, we identified thousands of candidates' personal views on PR, covering 85% of UK constituencies, and made all candidate and party positions publicly available to voters.
And we started an official government petition for Proportional Representation. Thanks to the 103,495 people who signed it, PR has now been scheduled for debate in Parliament on 30th October. But with politics in flux following the general election, this debate is the beginning of a new and crucial stage of the campaign: one that could be decisive in bringing real democracy to the UK.
A great opportunity...
We have a great opportunity - the kind that might only come once in a generation.
In 2022 - or whenever the next general election takes place - we can wake up to a government committed to replacing First Past the Post with a system of Proportional Representation fit for a real democracy. Or we can wake up to what we’re used to: a government determined to keep Parliament, representation and government out of the hands of the voters.
Which of these outcomes becomes a reality won't be decided on the day of the next General Election. It will be decided by what we do now, and in the months or years before the next election is called. If we want to bring about the biggest leap forward for democracy since women won the vote, we need to lay its foundations today.
Here's the plan
Three things need to happen before we win Proportional Representation.
- We must bring together all the parties, organisations and public figures who want fair votes to work together in the PR Alliance.
- We need one of the two largest parties - i.e. the Labour Party - to fully commit to genuine electoral reform.
- And we need the grassroots movement to strengthen and grow - making loud enough demands to put fair votes on the radar of every politician, journalist and voter.
Three members of the Make Votes Matter team set out our plans for each of these areas below...
The PR Alliance
Klina Jordan, Co-founder & Facilitator
On 17th October, we're bringing together seven political parties and numerous organisations in Parliament for our second Alliance Building Conference. This special event will plan coordinated actions to help achieve the shared goal of PR in the House of Commons: from parliamentary questions, to media interventions, to aligning manifesto commitments, to supporting nation-wide lobbying. Getting a government petition to over 100,000 signatures in the middle of a parliamentary term, as we did this year, showed a first glimpse of what we can achieve when the Alliance and everyone who wants fair votes works together. We need our movement’s most prominent leaders to constantly champion initiatives like this: always raising PR up the agenda and never letting it fall.
The Labour Party
Owen Winter, Co-founder & Spokesperson
We need one of the two largest parties on side, so there’s no escaping the need to bring the Labour Party into the fold if we want fair votes. There are already 79 pro PR Labour MPs and the number's growing fast. The key thing that needs to happen is for local Labour parties to pass resolutions calling on Labour to back PR. Working with the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, we've trained up speakers to go to local branch meetings, lead discussions on PR, and enable members to make up their minds - and we find the vast majority agree with us. We've already sent speakers to dozens of meetings and many motions have been passed. By this time next year, we plan to have provided a speaker to every branch in the country that wants one and to have brought about a loud call for PR from the party membership.
Joe Sousek, Co-founder & Facilitator
Electoral reform is fundamentally a transfer of power: from the few beneficiaries of First Past the Post to the many who are currently denied fair votes; everyone. This kind of change doesn't happen without an assertive grassroots movement. We want to enable people who want fair votes everywhere to take meaningful action for fair votes - growing the number of local groups and increasing their impact by taking coordinated action across the country. This means holding town hall meetings to lobby MPs, informing and recruiting the public in our communities, engaging with students and young people in schools, and leading all kinds of creative public action to demand PR.
We know that if we do all of these things, we'll be on our way to winning Proportional Representation within years, not decades. People have been advocating electoral reform in the UK for over a hundred years. The time has come for action. Make Votes Matter exists to drive the change we need and enable people everywhere to do the same.
Your donation could pay for...
- Website software for a month - £15
- 500 promotional postcards - £30
- Setting up a local campaign group - £50
- Getting an expert speaker to and from three Labour Party meetings - £75
- Printing 5,000 educational leaflets - £100
- Holding a workshop to train up activist organisers - £200
- High volume mailing software for a month - £300
- Printing of 1,000 copies of our 36 page Labour report - £1,000
- One senior campaigner, on a living wage, for one month - £1,370
- Permissions, insurance and equipment hire for a major public event - £2,500
We are aiming to raise a minimum of £20,000 to get this crucial new stage of the campaign off to a flying start.
As a volunteer-based campaign on a budget, we place huge value on every pound we receive. We always keep costs to a minimum and our full-time staff, who have left long-standing careers to campaign for fair votes, are committed to never receiving more than the Living Wage so we can make our funding go as far as possible.
Other ways to help
If you feel you're not able to contribute much financially, you can still play a crucial role in the campaign by getting involved and taking action:
- Join the movement to receive updates about the campaign.
- Find and join your local campaign group, or let us help you start your own.
- Volunteer your time, skills and enthusiasm to help run the national campaign.
- If you're a member of the Labour Party, invite an expert speaker on PR to your CLP or branch.