MPs and hundreds of activists hunger strike to demand “votes that matter”

MPs, MEPs and public figures will take part in a 24-hour hunger strike this Tuesday (6th February ) to call for a radical overhaul of the UK’s voting system. Hungry for Democracy will commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage, highlight that the struggle for democracy is far from over, and call for the introduction of Proportional Representation, say campaigners.

High profile supporters from the Green Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and UKIP will be joined by hundreds of people across the UK who believe the UK’s First Past the Post voting system denies them a voice in Parliament, say organisers Make Votes Matter.

Baroness Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats, said: “In places like West Dorset it’s possible to be born, live, vote and die and your MP is always from the same party - in the case of West Dorset, since before women won the vote.”

“Millions of voters feel that their votes don’t count. In the 2015 General Election, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP won 24% of the vote but only 1.5% of the seats in Parliament. That’s why we need Proportional Representation now.”

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said: “We need to fix our broken First Past the Post system and have an electoral system where every vote counts. It’s 100 years since women won the vote. This was a huge and radical democratic change, and that’s what we need again now.”

The hunger strike will last from 8pm on 5th February to 8pm on 6th February, and will be marked by day long vigils in Parliament Square and outside Sheffield Town Hall.

The UK’s First Past the Post voting system means the share of seats in Parliament that a party wins can have little relationship to the share of the vote they received. The governing Conservatives and DUP received just 43% of the vote in last year’s general election, but now hold a majority of seats. On the other hand, in 2015 the Greens, Lib Dems and UKIP shared just under a quarter all votes cast, but ended up with a combined 1.5% of seats.

Klina Jordan, Co-founder of Make Votes Matter said: “It’s 100 years since the first women won the vote, but while 68% of votes are wasted, the struggle for real democracy in the UK is far from over. The archaic First Past the Post voting system denies representation to millions and all but guarantees divisive minority rule. It also means that women are underrepresented in Parliament.

“Proportional Representation simply means that Parliament fairly reflects the voters - something most developed countries already take for granted. Every parliament that includes over 40% women is elected via a form of PR. We call on everyone who wants real democracy in the UK to join the movement to make votes matter.”