Monday, 5 February 2018

Hunger strike to make votes matter

A leading member of the Green Party in Kent will be on hunger strike outside Parliament tomorrow as part of a national campaign for Proportional Representation to make votes count. The protest is 100 years to the day that some women were allowed to vote for the first time and has been organised by the Make Votes Matter campaign.

Stuart Jeffery, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: “Until 1918 70% of adults including all women were not entitled to vote. The campaigns by the suffragists and suffragettes changed that. While almost all adults can now vote, our current voting system means that 68% of us still do not have a vote that counts.

“The First Past The Post system gives us a huge democratic deficit where the will of the people is not reflected in the makeup of Parliament. Most western countries have ditched this system and it is time that the UK did so too.

“I will be joining hunger strikers in Parliament Square to send a clear message to Parliament that we will not allow this to continue. We cannot accept a system that sees governments elected by a small number of voters and that excludes people from being represented by a party of their choosing.”

From Make Votes Matter, https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/hungry-for-democracy

On 6th February 1918 the Representation of the People Act passed into law, extending voting rights to some women and all men over 21 for the first time. Until then, around 70% of the adult population were not allowed to vote.

Today all adults are allowed to vote but - thanks to our First Past the Post voting system - most of us still don't have a vote that counts. In the 2017 general election, 68% of votes had no impact on the result, either going to losing candidates or piling up in safe seats without influencing the makeup up Parliament.

We're hunger striking to draw attention to the injustice of a voting system that denies representation to millions, returns Parliaments that don't reflect the voters, and gives us governments that most of us didn't vote for.

We're calling for Proportional Representation, so that seats match votes and everyone has a vote that matters equally. And we're calling on everyone who wants fair votes to join the movement and take action to win real democracy in the UK.

The passing of the 1918 Act was the result of decades of campaigning by suffragists and suffragettes. We recognise the severity of what these campaigners went through to win the vote, that for some British people hunger is a daily reality, and that sexism remains prevalent in the 21st Century.

Respecting this, we invite donations from participants (contribute the money you'd have spent on food for the day, ask friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you) and other supporters and shall split funds between a food bank, a women's charity and Make Votes Matter.

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