You are playing an essential role in our parliamentary democracy, in making your voices heard. I’m hopeful that your MPs will listen and start to think hard about the fact that our voting system is completely broken.
Our Parliament currently faces massive decisions about what the future of this country looks like, and I believe that one of the biggest decisions is about how we reinvent our democracy to make it fit for the 21st century.
People have all sorts of reasons for how they voted in the EU referendum, but what underlies the anger and frustration felt by so many is the strong sense that we aren’t listened to by the powerful elites who control our lives and our laws. A lot of that frustration has been blamed on the European Union, but if we look closer to home then I think the real cause is our outdated system of first past the post voting.
The real reason that people feel powerless because their MPs and the Government have no real reason to listen to them. Most MPs can pretty much ignore their constituents because they live in a safe seat where there would have to be a real landslide before they would lose an election. When people say “voting doesn’t change anything” the sad reality is that, for too many people this is actually true. What made the EU Referendum quite special is that every vote was counted, every voice heard, but that should be true for every election.
The MPs and the Lords at Westminster look, speak and think differently to most people in the outside world. Some people have beliefs, values, and political opinions which fit perfectly with either Labour or the Tories – and I say lucky them. But many of us don’t feel any connection with the two main parties and that leads to frustration and disengagement. A healthy democracy needs lots of different parties representing lots of different views. But at the moment, so many brilliant parliamentary candidates hear from voters “I really agree with you but you’ve got no chance of winning!”. That is frustrating for everyone apart from the two big parties, who benefit hugely from this monopoly on power and are happy to take it in turns to run the Government.