On the 7th of May, Make Votes Matter is holding a Demo for Democracy - a major demonstration to demand Proportional Representation (PR) for elections to the House of Commons.
I'm Owen Winter, Member of Youth Parliament for North Cornwall and spokesperson for Make Votes Matter. Just before the last year's General Election I began a petition calling for PR. Within days, two things had happened. Firstly, almost half a million people signed this or similar petitions. Secondly, we witnessed the worst election in our modern history.
Everyone knows our voting system is a disaster, and polls consistently show an overwhelming majority of us are in favour of proportionality. What isn't always clear is what we - the voters - can do to get fair representation. With this in mind, here are three reasons why you need to come to the Demo...
1. The problem is First Past the Post
You have to go back to a time before women had the vote to find a parliament that represented the population as badly as the current one does. A party backed by less than a quarter of the electorate has been able to form a majority government, while one in four of all votes went to three parties who now share 1.5% of seats. These voices aren't just excluded from government - they're excluded from holding government to account.
It's not just that this goes against every democratic principle - which of course it does - it's that it results in decisions of government that most people disagree with. It's no surprise there's widespread opposition and hostility towards flagship policies when most people rejected those policies at the ballot box.
If we accept the voting system as legitimate then we must also accept that the government has not only a mandate, but a duty to implement their manifesto promises. On the other hand, if we don't accept that we have real democracy, we better do something about it!
2. If we want change, we must act now
Everyone feels angry about the voting system straight after a General Election, the Electoral Reform Society publishes a damning report, and David Dimbleby calmly moderates a ten minute debate on Question Time. But then anger gives way to hopelessness and this issue - that sits right at the heart of how our country is governed - drops off the agenda. And so the cycle continues and five years on we wake up to another term of minority rule.
I'm certain that the predecessors of the women's suffrage movement went through the same cycles. In the 19th Century, women were angry every time they were disenfranchised from an election, but put up with suppression of their democratic rights the rest of the time. Until they decided not to put up with it, and then everything changed.
For PR, that time is now. Our country's politics is more diverse than ever. We expressed diverse opinions last May - but, because of our electoral system, Parliament has failed to reflect this diversity. This is terrible for our democracy, but it also means that more people than ever before realise how damaging First Past the Post is. If a fraction of those who were disenfranchised by the current system take action, we will get change.
3. Worst case scenario: a great day out
Like our last demo in July 2015, this will be a family-friendly day to call for change in the inclusive, cooperative way that we want the country's politics to be done. We have a great line up of high-profile speakers from across the political spectrum, live music and creative actions for those who want to be involved.
Speakers so far include:
Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
Baroness Sal Brinton, President, Liberal Democrats
Diane James MEP, UK Independence Party
Stewart McDonald MP, Scottish National Party
Cllr Marianne Overton, Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association & Independent Group Leader
Alex Runswick, Director, Unlock Democracy
John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform
Owen Winter MYP, Spokesperson, Make Votes Matter
Phil Cooper will be performing his music live on stage, with a very relevant message.
This will be the first annual Make Votes Matter Day, which we will mark each year until we make every vote matter!
I hope to see you on the 7th of May.