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Keir Starmer warned to reform electoral system or face continual losses to the Tories

Keir Starmer is under pressure from Labour activists to make electoral reform a manifesto commitment - Credit: PA

Keir Starmer is under pressure from within his own party to make electoral reform a manifesto commitment following four consecutive general election losses and the recent local election setbacks.

The pressure comes after a recent Best for Britain poll had shown at least half of its respondents backed electoral reform to make the number of elected representatives better reflect the total of votes cast in any given election.

The same poll found that less than two-fifths of people (39%) believe their vote made any difference to the results in recent first-past-the-post elections.

Of the 3,000 respondents, 52% said they supported a change to Britain’s voting system, while only 17% opposed it.

Some 64% of Labour supporters were in favour, and even 50% of Conservatives liked the idea. Support climbed to 52% in Leave-voting Conservative seats, where just 15% opposed it.

In many cases, these are the very seats that Labour needs to win if it wants to oust the Tories from power.

This comes as local Labour parties continue to throw theur support behind a motion backing a switch to proportional representation voting (PR). Currently, 216 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have supported the motion, placing Starmer and the party high command under intense pressure to act at this autumn’s party conference.

In the run-up to the 6 May local elections, research for the Politics for the Many campaign showed that the “winner-takes-all” voting system meant voters on the left were “in effect being punished for having a choice of parties to vote for”.

The research showed that in nearly half of wards (48%), there was one unified party on the right (the Conservatives) standing candidates against three candidates from parties on the progressive “left”: Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. In 85% of wards, there were more “left” parties standing candidates than “right” parties.

Nationally the Conservative Party now holds a working majority of 87 seats in the House of Commons having won 42% of the vote at the last general election in December 2019. The Conservatives gained 48 seats having only increased their vote share by 1.2%. As a result of the First Past the Post system the Tories required 38,000 votes to elect each of their MPs, compared with 51,000 for every Labour seat, 300,000 for each Liberal Democrat and 900,000 for the single Green MP.

Naomi Smith, chief executive of Best for Britain said: “Our polling shows most people feel their vote just doesn’t matter, they want a fairer electoral system and they want like-minded parties to work together to deliver it.

“Labour has a choice. It can languish in opposition most of the time under the current system, or be the biggest party in power most of the time.”