Yesterday’s EU referendum turnout was 72% compared with 65.1% and 66.2% in the 2010 and 2015 general elections. An important reason for this is, as David Cameron said on 8 June, “every vote counts the same [in the referendum]”.
Although the referendum result was very close (51.9% – 48.1%), at least it was clear and obvious – unlike the general election results in 2005 and 2015 when, respectively, the Labour Party was awarded an overall majority for only 35.2% of the votes and the Conservative Party was awarded an overall majority for only 36.9%. This needs to be repeated over and over again. Every vote should count in elections as well as referendums.
Who will represent us in the exit negotiations?
All of us, Remainers and Leavers alike and whatever party loyalties we may have, must hope that the Government gets the best deal possible in the crucial exit negotiations that will take place. The Government’s duty is to represent us all but, elected by only 36.9% of the voters, it is not representative of us.
David Cameron has recognized this a little by announcing his resignation, but his successor will be chosen by the Conservative Party and not by the voters. Others have recognized it a little more by calling for a general election but a new Government, elected by about 35% - 40% of the voters by First Past The Post, would still not be representative.
We should have a general election now by STV/PR to elect a truly representative Parliament and a Government with a mandate to negotiate.
Owen Winter launched a petition today for a PR general election. Even if you think the Government will ignore it, it is worth signing to increase publicity for electoral reform and attract new supporters. As he has written:
“After a divisive referendum campaign, UK public opinion is deeply split. The only way to reconcile our differences is an election where all voters have a stake in the result. As David Cameron said, every vote in a referendum ‘counts the same’. Surely this should apply for general elections too?”
Please click on MVMbrexit-petition to see the petition and sign it.
38 Degrees consulted with its members today on what its priorities should be now that the decision has been taken to leave the EU. Unsurprisingly (because they never do), they did not even mention electoral reform as one of their possible priorities, but their final question invited general comments so I wrote:
“The Government is responsible for representing us in the vital exit negotiations but, elected by only 36.9% of voters, it does not represent us and a new Government, also elected by First Past The Post, wouldn't represent us either. We need a General Election NOW by STV/PR.”
The Electoral Reform Society has published a blog, in which it makes the point that “the referendum demonstrated a clear public appetite to engage with constitutional issues of where power should lie” and suggests that the public should continue to be engaged. The blog continues, “Leaving the European Union and determining the future shape of the United Kingdom are huge and difficult tasks – far too difficult to be left to politicians behind closed doors.”
Please click on ERSpublic-engagement for the full text.