POLITICS
22/09/2018 09:09 BST | Updated 22/09/2018 11:31 BST

Majority Of Voters Back Urgent Reform Of Westminster System

“Big changes are long overdue."

PA Wire/PA Images

The majority of the British public are in favour of urgent reform of Westminster with Labour voters and older people most likely to want change, poll results shared with HuffPost suggest. 

The research, published as Labour gathers for its annual conference in Liverpool this weekend, comes as some party members are attempting to get electoral reform on the agenda.

Overall of more than 3,000 people polled across Britain, 68% said they supported “urgent reform”. That support was stronger among older people, leave voters and those from working class backgrounds. 

The results were even stronger among Labour voters. Three in four (75%) people polled who said they will vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s party at the next election believe Westminster system is in need of an urgent rethink. 

The Electoral Reform Society said the figure showed people felt “Westminster’s archaic voting system deprives millions of a voice” and a growing number think  power is too centralised and the House of Lords should be shrunk. 

The BMG research is being published as Labour’s grassroots bids to get electoral reform on the agenda, with 44 CLPs passing motions for proportional representation ahead of the party’s annual conference in Liverpool next week. 

At Momentum’s The World Transformed festival on Sunday Corbyn’s ex-trade union adviser, Nancy Platts, will focus not just on selection of party candidates but at democracy as a whole. 

She will appear alongside Jon Trickett, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, to discuss the centralisation of power and the party’s agenda for democracy.

Willie Sullivan, senior director (Campaigns) at the Electoral Reform Society, said the House of Lords should be the party’s priority.

He said: “While most of the discussion has been about Labour’s internal democracy, voters want the party to look outwards at how to revive our ailing democracy. Westminster is falling apart in more ways than one, and it’s vital that Labour has a vision for restoring it.

“For three quarters of potential Labour voters to say that democratic reform is urgent is a clear message to the party leadership that this needs addressing now.

“Westminster’s archaic voting system deprives millions of a voice while the unelected House of Lords is a drain on the public purse. And the centralisation of power in Westminster makes the UK the European leader on regional inequality.

“Meanwhile a proposed cut in MPs could badly hinder the scrutinising role of Parliament over the Executive and a future roll-out of Voter ID could deprive already marginalised groups of their democratic right to vote.

“Grassroots supporters want the party’s leadership to provide an inspiring vision for our democracy. This is about giving power to the many, and it’s high time for a new Charter for Democratic Reform. While Labour debates changes to how it selects MPs, the elephant in the room is how we elect them, too.”

Shavanah Taj, president of Wales TUC, said Corbyn should be leading the debate, adding: “There is a growing realisation that politics cannot continue as it is if we want it to work for the many.

“From replacing the broken Westminster voting system, to finally reforming the archaic House of Lords, there are big changes which are long overdue.

“The discussions at Labour conference should form a valuable basis on which to build a democratic agenda, one where power is shared and the elitist Westminster model is reformed at last.”