Proportional Representation motion to Oxford City Council

Here is the speech I gave at full council on July 20th, when I proposed the motion that the council should support proportional representation in national and local elections. You can find the full text of the motion here (first motion). 

Honestly, I'm not sure what I should say now - does anyone here still believes that the current voting system is fit for purpose?

We regularly see an insulting mis-match between votes and representation, our motion provides a few examples but there are many more. Not least, the fact that only 43% of the votes last month were for either the Conservatives or the DUP, and yet look where we are.

80% of developed nations have some form of proportional representation [and 80.5% of democracies with more than 1million ppl]. There are only a handful of countries that still use FPTP. And both the UK and the US, as two of the largest in this group, have recently become a cautionary tale about what happens when people don't feel represented for far too long.

Now, there are two main reasons usually given for keeping FPTP - that this yields stable parliaments and that maintaining direct connection between MPs and constituency is important.

The first of these arguments I feel has been proven thoroughly wrong by the last three general elections, I won't expand on that. As for the second, I agree that this connection is important, but there are systems that combine both the principle of proportional representation, and the constituency link, such as the Additional Members System, which is what they have in the Scottish Parliament, or the Single Transferable Vote.

So I guess the main question is why we proposed this motion, it's not as if - alas - this council has any direct influence on Westminster. However, we are charged with representing the residents of this city, and as long as we have FPTP, the residents of this city are not properly represented - forced into tactical voting, or ending up with a "wasted" vote, millions of British voters, including those in Oxford, don't get to have a say, don't get to see their views represented in Parliament. That is not how a healthy democracy functions.



Turns out that I was wrong and that most of the Labour councillors do not support PR. They do however support expanding the franchise to 16-17 year olds, a LibDem amendment (which I was happy to have it added to our motion, as that is Green Party policy as well), so we ended up with a rather weird motion - one that talks about how FPTP is problematic and that PR is important, but that the only action point following from it is about expanding the franchise. You will be able to see the final motion that was voted through in the minutes of the meeting which will be published here (not published at the time this was posted)

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