Labour candidates call for electoral reform

By Emmeline Saunders

A group of Labour candidates has written a letter to Gordon Brown calling for a referendum on electoral reform to be held on the day of the general election.

The 35 parliamentary prospective candidates (PPCs) said in their letter: “We do not believe that Labour will benefit at the next general election unless voters see that we are prepared to actually deliver a chance of real change.”

The signatories welcomed Labour’s announcement during conference that the next party manifesto would commit to holding a referendum on electoral reform, and said it recognises “that the people must be given a say in the way their representatives are elected”.

Coming ahead of tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech, the letter warned that the public would regard any back-track as “just another paper promise”.

The PPCs argued that holding a vote on reform would see hundreds of Liberal Democrat voters switch to Labour, more stay-at-home Labour supporters coming out to vote, and every Tory opponent trying to explain why David Cameron would not give the electorate a say.

Vote For A Change director Willie Sullivan said: “There is clearly a reform dividend for any party that is ready to deliver real change that will both provide fairness and deal with the mess surrounding MPs expenses.

“The way to do this is to change the way MPs get their jobs. Politicians need to be serious about changing their politics.”

Mr Brown earlier this year pledged a shake-up in the way MPs are elected in his drive to clean up parliament after the expenses scandal.

In a statement to Commons in June, he said he was willing to abandon the current ‘first-past-the-post’ system in favour of an alternative method only if there is “broad consensus in the country”.

This was echoed in his leader’s speech at the party conference, where he promised a referendum on Whitehall election reform.