Monday 5 June 2023

Open letter to the “Alliance for Radical Democratic Change” (AFRDC) from GET PR DONE!


Open letter to the “Alliance for Radical Democratic Change” (AFRDC)

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham/Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford/Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown

We appreciate that your new Alliance is looking at the issue of democratic change which is vital in making our society more equitable. But we are sure that tens of thousands of electoral reformers will be very disappointed — indeed perplexed — by your decision to omit any reference to proportional representation (PR) from the 1 June mission statement of a group that is calling for “radical democratic change.”

Not wanting to change the voting system comes across as illogical if you are serious about making other reforms. And, to be clear, PR is not especially “radical.” More than 90 countries around the world already use PR and this far fairer voting system elects the legislatures in both Wales and Scotland. Westminster is the laggard.

Moreover, we are doubly disappointed that two leading Labour politicians strongly in favour of PR — namely, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford — have obviously lost out in making PR a part of your group’s mission statement. Other Scottish politicians from the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, two parties which also support PR as a matter of policy, have obviously lost out as well.


Your statement is being issued at a time when the overwhelming majority of Labour Party members support PR and three of its largest unions — UNITE, UNISON and USDAW —- all support PR. So do the majority of UK voters. Only the Conservative Party still supports the archaic first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system. 

Set up in the 1880s, FPTP is notoriously undemocratic. It has created hundreds of safe seats and means that millions of votes are wasted. Minorities often rule. Under PR, by comparison, seats won match votes cast. PR is far more equitable and nonpartisan.  

AFRDC, which is headed by former PM Gordon Brown, was set up in Edinburgh on 1 June.  Here is a press release of its launch:

We in GET PR DONE! ask that the AFRDC consider revising its mission statement and include PR as a basic democratic principle for a democratic country. Retaining FPTP is simply indefensible for democrats.   


The steering group of GET PR DONE!

Established in January 2020, GET PR DONE! is a cross party/ no party campaign group that aims to do what it is says on the tin.           

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


While I appreciate the Alliance's efforts to address the crucial issue of democratic change and its potential for creating a more equitable society, I find myself compelled to present a Marxist critique of the omission of proportional representation (PR) from the mission statement. It is evident that this decision undermines the pursuit of true radical democratic change.

Let us be clear: PR, although touted as a fairer voting system, remains a mere reformist measure within the confines of capitalism. It fails to challenge the underlying class divisions and economic inequalities that plague our society. By focusing solely on electoral reforms, we risk falling into the trap of neglecting the fundamental structural changes necessary to dismantle the oppressive capitalist power structure.

PR may grant a semblance of proportional representation, but it disregards the fact that the political system is intrinsically intertwined with economic forces. Capitalism ensures that the ruling bourgeoisie retains their hold on power, influencing the political landscape regardless of the electoral system in place. To achieve genuine democratic change and address the pervasive economic inequities, we must strive for more radical and transformative measures.

Our Marxist analysis calls for collective ownership of the means of production, the abolition of private property, and the establishment of a socialist or communist system. These profound transformations are essential to create a society in which true democratic decision-making prevails, free from the shackles of capitalist exploitation.

While it may be tempting to rally behind PR as a solution, we must remember that it falls short of confronting the systemic issues inherent to capitalism. We must not be swayed by the allure of electoral reforms that serve to maintain the status quo. Instead, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to challenging the very foundations of the capitalist system.

In solidarity,