The renowned left-wing economist and Corbyn-supporter Yanis Varoufakis has slammed Labour’s position on electoral reform as “contemptible”.
His comments come as Proportional Representation campaign group Make Votes Matter revealed that more and more local Labour parties are passing motions demanding change to Westminster’s outdated electoral system.
Labour members are increasingly frustrated with First Past The Post, which saw 68% of votes wasted in 2017’s general election, the cross-party campaign group reported.
In response to a question from the audience, Varoufakis said: “I’ve already declared my friendship and camaraderie towards Jeremy [Corbyn], but I’m going to be clear on this. The Labour Party’s position on electoral reform is unsustainable - I would go so far as to say contemptible.
“We need Proportional Representation. It is remarkable to have a progressive movement that is supporting the First Past the Post system.”
Since resigning in 2015 over his government’s “surrender” to European Union demands for austerity measures in return for a bailout, Varoufakis has co-founded DiEM25 - the European movement for democratisation. He has advised and lent ideological support to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and is a frequent speaker at Momentum events.
His comments add to growing calls for electoral reform from both MPs and trade unions, Make Votes Matter said.
More than 80 Labour MPs from across the party’s political spectrum have declared support for PR - from John McDonnell and Cat Smith to Ruth Cadbury and Chuka Umunna - with just 45 of the party’s MPs publicly committed to keeping First Past the Post.
Labour’s trade union backers are also increasingly calling for radical voting reform in recent weeks, with Scottish TUC Vice President Lynn Henderson calling the current system “rigged against workers”. Unite’s Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett wrote “bringing an end to the archaic Westminster system is no longer a democratic nicety for progressives – it is a necessity”.
Joe Sousek, co-founder and facilitator for Make Votes Matter, said: “More and more Labour members are seeing First Past the Post for what it is: divisive, undemocratic, elitist; essentially the opposite of everything the party stands for.
“Working with the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, we’ve provided speakers to dozens of local Labour parties. Almost every meeting we attend is overwhelmingly in support of Proportional Representation - often unanimously - and 17 local parties have already passed motions calling for change.
“The UK Labour Party is the only democratic socialist or social democratic party in the developed world that supports First Past the Post. It’s time Labour listened to its members, backers, and voters by pushing for an electoral system for the many, not the few.”
Labour Party members can invite a speaker on Proportional Representation to their local branch meetings through the Make Votes Matter website.