Labour will not back proportional representation despite members’ support

A landmark Labour conference motion proposing that the party support proportional representation for future elections was defeated on Monday.

The motion was submitted by 153 constituency Labour Parties, two more than the 151 submitted motions on Brexit at the last in-person conference in 2018.

Recent polling found that 83% of Labour members support a move to a more proportional voting system.

PR is an electoral system in which the share of seats each party wins broadly reflects the share of the vote they receive.

In the UK, proportional voting systems are already in use for elections to the Scottish Parliament, Senedd, Northern Ireland Assembly and London Assembly, as introduced by the previous Labour administration.

A card vote found that just under 80% of constituency party votes backed the motion. However the votes from affiliates – mostly representing trade unions – were 95% opposed, and the final result was almost 58% against.

Ed Davey Liberal Democrat leader called the result “deeply disappointing”. He said: “We can only build a better politics and a fairer country with a fairer electoral system. We will keep working with the many in the Labour party and across all parties who want to see a fairer electoral system.”

Commenting on the vote Laura Parker, Spokesperson for Labour for a New Democracy said: “We have won the argument with the Labour membership – both the debate and the result showed almost no support for the broken status quo.”

She added: “Hundreds of trade unionists play a key role in our campaign, but despite this, most unions do not yet back reform. The truth is, if the Leadership had engaged with this unifying policy as intensively as they pushed their own proposed rule changes, PR would now be Labour policy.”