On Saturday 21st July, Make Votes Matter and Unlock Democracy took to the streets of Birmingham to host our biggest single event of the year - #FairVotesFestival. Local groups, volunteers, and first time activists all came together to urge parties across the political spectrum to back Proportional Representation.
The event coincided with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and the 90 year anniversary of the Equal Suffrage Act 1928, which extended the voting franchise. The family-friendly atmosphere was welcomed by all, with live music and speakers throughout the 2 hour event.
The line-up included Natalie Bennett - who was at our Manchester rally last year - as well as Richard Burden MP, Keith Best, Beverley Nielsen, Willie Sullivan, Tom Pratt, James Carver, Zack Polsanski and Mojo Abidi. The speakers were accompanied by live music from Kyle Parsons and the Jake Leg Jug Band.
We also saw activists engage with one another in small break-out groups which discussed various topics, including the campaign to make PR Labour Party policy, creative actions and stunts, and starting new local groups around the country.
#FairVotesFestival hasn’t been the only event Make Votes Matter have done this year. Our sustained campaigning has seen us protest with a 24 hour “hunger strike” for #Hungry4Democracy in February, and run over 60 street stalls for Demand Democracy Day in June.
Katy Wing, one of the lead organisers, said: “It was fantastic to work alongside inspirational people, like Wendy Stephen, Reece Stafferton and Klina Jordan, who are passionate about winning fair votes. It was very rewarding to see the event come together on the day and hear some great speeches and music, knowing that it was our teamwork that made it all happen.”
Overall, the event was deemed a resounding success and we look forward to organising similar events.
What’s coming up?
After the success of this event, a number of activities at grassroots level are planned.
Campaigners, activists and volunteers are already taking an active part in our centenary lobbying campaign and asking to meet with MPs to find out their views, and put forward the argument for switching to a system of Proportional Representation. If you haven’t already done so, you can too! Tell your MP you want fair votes.
On Sunday 19th August, a contingent of MVM activists attended the Peterloo Massacre commemorative rally and picnic in Manchester. A number of Local Group meetings and a roadshow are being held in September, and October marks the first meeting of MVM Oxford. And looking ahead to December, a Christmas get-together for activists will take place as well as our second Democracy Awards event which will recognise the fantastic efforts campaigners and Parliamentarians make to win real democracy.
Want to get more involved?
Make sure you’ve joined the movement to stay up to date with all our future events and action days.
Get in touch if you want to start a local group to campaign for PR throughout the year.
Support the campaign by donating via our website.