Group lobbies Chichester MP over electoral reform

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan (photo from Parliament website)
Chichester MP Gillian Keegan (photo from Parliament website)

Campaigners lobbying for a change of electoral systems in the UK met with Chichester’s MP earlier this week to discuss reform.

A petition calling for first-past-the-post (FPTP) to be replaced by proportional representation for general elections gained more than 103,000 signatures and was debated by MPs in Westminster Hall on Monday (October 30).

However the Government has defended the current arrangements as a ‘robust method of electing MPs’ and pointed to the 2011 referendum, where the country rejected a move to the alternative vote system.

The petition was started by Tim Ivorson, who lives in Crawley and is a committee member of Make Votes Count In West Sussex, which campaigns for a fairer’ voting system for public elections.

While Chichester’s MP Gillian Keegan could not attend the Westminster Hall debate as she was due to speak in another debate at the same time, she did receive a delegation from Make Votes Count in West Sussex beforehand.

Led by John-Henry Bowden of Chichester, the delegation argued that the Conservatives have a history of revising and improving the voting system, that the present first-past-the-post system leaves many voters disenfranchised in practice, and described how the current arrangements undermines the credibility of Parliament and places the outcome of general elections in a small proportion of marginal constituencies.

Although Mrs Keegan remained unconvinced of the principle of proportional representation, she undertook to discuss it with the leader of Conservative Action for Electoral Reform.

Make Votes Count In West Sussex feels this was a valuable promise and showed her open-mindedness.

The group’s chair, Anthony Tuffin of Selsey, said the group was very grateful to Mrs Keegan for spending the best part of an hour with the delegation and said it was the first of a series of meetings about proportional representation with West Sussex MPs.

Nick Gibb, MP (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) is meeting a delegation this month and Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, has agreed to meet a delegation on a date to be arranged.

Make Votes Count In West Sussex has also asked to meet Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Jeremy Quin, Horsham MP, Henry Smith, MP for Crawley and Sir Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex.