Thursday 23 November 2023

A rebel with a cause at Monday's Full Council debate on Proportional Representation


 The Liberal Democrats brought a motion to Full Council this week making the case for Proportional Representation.

Proportional Representation is Labour Party policy, but a policy that the Labour Party  leader Keir Starmer decided to ignore. A policy aimed at improving democracy, democratically decided at Labour Conference,  undemocratically dismissed!

Cllr Tom Miller made a speech saying the for the first time he was defying the Labour whip and would vote for the motion. As I understand it he was joined by Cllr Janice Long. Cllr Robert Johnson and Cllr Liz Dixon abstained.  I would point out that the public watching on the livestream cannot see the voting and numbers are not announced by the Mayor - so I am open to correction.

This is the motion:

This Council believes:


The next General Election is an opportunity to take our country on a different course

after years of chaotic Tory rule. This is especially true in the aftermath of the Brexit

referendum, which saw the UK crash out of the European Union, with a bad deal, that

has left us diminished, poorer and less important on the world stage. The next General

Election will be fought under the antiquated First Past the Post voting system.

First Past the Post (FPTP) originated when land-owning aristocrats dominated

parliament and voting was restricted to property-owning men. It is not fit for a ‘modern



In Europe, only the UK and authoritarian Belarus still use archaic single-round FPTP

for general elections. This produces governments that have typically not had strong

support across the country.


Internationally, Proportional Representation (PR) is used to elect the Parliaments of

more than 80 countries. It is a system that works and has fostered a more consensual,

pragmatic way of conducting politics and policy making.


PR ensures that all votes count, have equal value, and that seats won match votes

cast. Under PR, MPs and Parliaments better reflect the age, gender and protected

characteristics of both local communities and of the nation. Whilst the UK has taken

leaps forwards in terms of electing a more diverse Parliament, we are still behind many

other countries.


MPs better reflecting the communities they represent in turn leads to improved

decision making, wider participation and increased levels of ownership of decisions

taken. PR would also end minority rule. In 2019, 43.6% of the vote produced a

government with 56.2% of the seats and 100% of the power. Fair, proportional votes

also prevent ‘wrong winner’ elections such as occurred in 1951 and February 1974.


PR is now the national policy of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Green Party,

SNP, Plaid Cymru and Women’s Equality Party along with a host of Trade Unions and

pro-democracy organisations.


There is a growing consensus that the UK’s voting system must change.


PR is already used to elect the parliaments and assemblies of Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland. Its use should now be extended to include Westminster and

considered at a local level too.


Our democracy is in a fragile state, with confidence in politics at a record low.

Changing the voting system to guarantee that every vote counts equally can help to

inspire renewed confidence in our political system, increase participation and ensure

that the electorate are able to elect the type of government that the majority of the

British people want to see.


This Council therefore resolves to:

1) Join 29 other local authorities across the country, of different political

persuasions, in supporting calls for a change to the UK’s voting system to

Proportional Representation.


2) Request that the Leader of the Council write to H.M. Government calling for a

change in our outdated electoral laws and to enable Proportional Representation

to be used for UK general elections and local Council elections.


3) Request that the Leader of the Council write to H.M Leader of the Opposition to

encourage that the Labour Party include changing the electoral system in their

next election manifesto.


Cllr Anton Georgiou

Alperton Ward


Well done Cllr Miller and Cllr Long. Rather sad that some of the young Turks in the Labour Group went along with opposition. 

Supporting the motion Brent Green Party said:

The Green Party of England and Wales and Brent Green Party support Proportional Representation as a fairer, more inclusive electoral system for the United Kingdom. Currently UK national and local governments are often elected by a minority of voters. This is grossly unjust, each vote must matter in all elections, and the results must reflect what the people choose.


Anonymous said...

We'd rather the elected local Councillors pushed Brent Council Leaders to actually run the borough properly - all their poor decisions and wasted money will not be solved by proportional representation 😞

Anonymous said...

Labour councillors whipped to vote against a Labour Party policy???

Thats Brent for you!!!

Anonymous said...

This might be Labour policy (backed by the members and unions), but Councillor Georgiou also quoted statements made by Starmer in support of PR.

No doubt this means he is preparing to do the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Cllr ostentatiously votes agsinst whip on issue council has no power over but unapologetically votes with whip on contentious issue after issue which council has authority over.

Anonymous said...

If we'd proportional representation for the last local elections how would the number of councillors from each party be different???

Anonymous said...

Yep let's just sit back, do as we are told and take our allowances - the residents don't matter!

Martin Francis said...

23rd Nov 22,55 I did see a projection a while ago but can't find it at present. This article looks at the issue generally:

Anonymous said...

Says above "Due to the new STV system in Scotland, FPTP single member wards were replaced with multi-member wards, each having three or four councillors." - does this mean we'll end up with even more councillors under a PR system? We surely can't afford that.

Anonymous said...

Used to support proportional representation until we saw what a mess the coalition was and now what has happened in the netherlands