Quotes

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Quotes

This is a collection of quotes that can be used to make the case for strengthening democracy by introducing STV.


“You cannot have both a democracy and safe seats. The two should be mutually exclusive. Given the plethora of safe seats, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that we do not have a democracy.”

Graeme Burton, 25 July 2016 on Make Votes Matter facebook page.

“Every vote will count.”

“The turnout in Council estates is very high.”

“Every place in Britain has a voice now.”

Ian Duncan-Smith (Conservative MP and ex-Leader) on BBC1’s EU Referendum programme, 23 June 2016.

“The beauty of a referendum is that every voter has an equal voice, every vote carries equal weight…” (Liam Fox, Conservative MP who wants to leave the EU)

“My Right Hon. Friend is absolutely right; every vote counts the same…” (Reply by David Cameron, Conservative PM who wants to remain in the EU)

Both in PMQs, 8 June 2016.

“Over 70% of votes (over 19m) were wasted as they were cast either for a losing candidate or surplus to the winner’s requirements – a slight increase compared with 2001.”

Make Votes Count (on the 2005 General Election)


“I am a 75 year old voter who has participated in every election for which I have been eligible since the age of 21 and whose vote has not once, in all those 54 years, had any bearing on the result whatsoever. To all intents and purposes I feel disenfranchised by the present system. I want to be able to make my vote effective and can see no other way of achieving this than by means of a change to STV.”

Written opinion – Public meeting, Cardiff published in the Final Report of the Richard Commission


“One of the main benefits of PR, and in particular STV, is that voters have a greater degree of choice in elections and a greater chance of their vote counting in terms of who gets elected.”

The UK Ministry of Justice’s Review of Voting systems, January 2008.


“the greatest care should be employed in constituting this representative assembly. It should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason and act like them. That it may be the interest of the assembly to do strict justice at all times, it should be an equal representation, or, in other words, equal interests among the people should have equal interests in it.”

John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776


“STV for the Northern Ireland Assembly has led to the most proportional distribution of seats in any UK election. ”

The UK Ministry of Justice’s Review of Voting systems, January 2008.


“Perhaps the most significant change for voters and candidates will strike closer to home. There will be no more “safe seats” that a party can win no matter who it runs as its candidate”

Making Every Vote Count, the Final Report of the British Columbia Citizens Assembly which recommended STV


“The elective dictatorship [of the British constitution].”

Title of Lord Hailsham’s Dimbleby Lecture, 19 October 1976


“Now if you think that proportional representation is boring, you are a very silly person because it’s about how we can run the country better.”

John Cleese, Monty Python’s Flying Circus


“Electoral systems have the potential for influencing the selection of under represented groups. Our research confirms that the first-past-the-post system used in most English local government elections contains the least favourable combination of factors likely to achieve this (Rao et al., 2007). The system coming closest to offering the best chance of promoting under represented groups is the Single Transferable Vote (STV) proportional system which was used for the first time in the Scottish local government elections earlier this year.”

Councillors’ Commission 2007


“The aim of the STV system is to give the voter the widest choice possible between candidates whilst eliminating, as far as possible, wasted votes.”

Final Report of the Richard Commission


“It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting.”

Tom Stoppard, Jumpers, Act I, (Grove Press 1971).


If AMS is to be replaced, the best option for electing an 80 Member Assembly is the STV system.

Final Report of the Richard Commission


“Recommendation: We believe that the electoral system for the second chamber should maximise voter choice, and we therefore reject the idea of closed party lists. We thus propose that elections should be carried out using either open lists or STV. On balance we believe that STV is more in keeping with the needs of the second chamber.”

The Tyler Report (Reforming the House of Lords: Breaking the Deadlock)


“Jack Straw blames on PR something which is inevitable in majority rule. If in a group of 5 people 2 think one way and 2 think the opposite, then the 5th person must decide the issue. This person only appears to have the power because the other 4 have already made up their minds. In reality the majority, 3 out of 5, rules. Unlike in the Commons, where Straw’s 35% rule.”

Andy Johnson on the “They work for You” site 30 October 2008


“My vote will really count this week: but then I’m lucky enough to have PR”

Fintan O’Toole (assistant editor of the Irish Times) in the Observer 31.5.09.


“The benefits of PR are that it is likely to increase people’s choices in elections and provide a more proportional allocation of seats in Parliament.”

The UK Ministry of Justice’s Review of Voting systems, January 2008.


This idea that there is a strong constituency link under the[…] present system is fatuous. Most constituents know little or nothing about their MP, not even their name. Indeed, most of the electorate have never voted for their MP and never will. For example, George Galloway was elected by just 18% of his constituents and the average for an MP is less than 35% (less if you count the high number of eligible electors not registered).

Neil Harding (Labour supporter) in his letter of 2 February 2008 to Michael Wills MP, Minister of State for Justice.


“I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman, who is a very intelligent Member, feels that this is a representative Chamber. I do not know whether he realises how many women there are in the Chamber today, or how many members of ethnic minorities there are, but this is not a representative assembly of this nation. The academic evidence is clear: if we elect someone for a single constituency under a first-past-the-post system, we will end up with parties, through the natural operation of their own self-interest, putting forward middle-aged, white, middle-class men in suits. That is a fair description of the people here.”

Chris Huhne, in the House of Commons, 6 November 2008


“I am merely making the point that the international evidence, which is peer-reviewed and academically respected beyond challenge, is that proportional representation systems lead to a much greater balance in terms of gender and ethnicity than first past the post.”

Chris Huhne, in the House of Commons, 6 November 2008


“If I had my way, my constituents would have the opportunity of electing a Conservative Member and a Labour Member as well as a Liberal Democrat Member in a multi-Member constituency.”

Chris Huhne, in the House of Commons, 6 November 2008


“My own conclusion, after 25 years in electoral politics, is that our system is deeply flawed and visibly deteriorating in both the quality and democratic accountability of its decision-making. I suggest therefore that public education is likely to increase rather than decrease public cynicism and what is needed is a more determined demand for reform of the system.”

Clare Short’s Political Studies Association / Hansard Society Annual Lecture on 29 October 2008


“Blair’s vote was cut by 5 million from 1997 to 2005 and only 1 in 5 of registered voters voted for the government, yet our electoral system gave it an unassailable majority in the House of Commons.”

Clare Short’s Political Studies Association / Hansard Society Annual Lecture on 29 October 2008


“I believe every vote should carry the same weight.” .. The current system is “neither fair nor efficient”

David Cameron (although not a supporter of STV appears to make the case for reform)


“The key change we need is to our electoral system.”

Clare Short’s Political Studies Association / Hansard Society Annual Lecture on 29 October 2008


“…if our system was more proportional, it would be more open to new forces, such as Green parties willing to challenge the current consensus and put forward new policy proposals. And last but not least, if the electorate, in their diversity of opinion, had more influence, the spin doctors and focus groups would have less.”

Clare Short’s Political Studies Association / Hansard Society Annual Lecture on 29 October 2008


“In Scotland we have a variety of voting systems for each of the four main levels of representation: Europe, Westminster, the national Government and local councils. While most of that will be familiar to Members here, it is the relatively new local council system that I want to bring to their attention and commend to them. It is a system of proportional representation by single transferable vote. It has been relatively well understood by the electorate, with very few spoiled papers. It is already used by some trade unions and pensions funds. It combines an emphasis on the individual candidate and on the political party”a balance that no other system is able to achieve. I want to commend the two parties in the previous Scottish coalition for combining to introduce that excellent system in my country. I hope that it can be extended elsewhere.”

from maiden speech by John Mason (Glasgow East, SNP)


“Does the Minister agree that the most popular Government in the UK at the moment are the Scottish Government? They happen to be a minority Government and they have the advantage that they cannot force through any measures on their own, but need other parties to join with them. That tends to give a majority view to issues that are carried forward”and STV at council level means that people have the choice to bypass sleepy traditional councillors.”

Question by John Mason MP (Glasgow E, SNP) 28 October 2008


“In an intervention earlier, I mentioned checks and balances and the importance of ensuring that we preserve those checks and balances in our democracy. We do not have a written constitution as in America, where there is a separation and balance of powers, and our electoral system does not have proportional representation, which gives immense power to Parliaments because Parliaments have to assemble Governments from various parties. Even before the Governments of Thatcher and Blair we had what was described as an elective dictatorship, because once a party gets power, the Prime Minister has enormous power of patronage, and control of a party and the Government in every sense, so checks and balances are important.”

Kelvin Hopkins MP (Luton N, Labour) 30 October 2008


“[Culture Minister Andy] Burnham … is also for the restoration of competitive balance to prevent the game [of football] becoming predictable, as are we all, but achieving it in a free market is complex. Achieving it in politics, however, would require the straightforward introduction of the proportional representation voting system that would end the dominance of the two main political parties and make every vote count at election time. Bizarrely, there is no record of Burnham speaking up for this.”

From an Article in the Times on 20 October 2008 by Martin Samuels, the Chief Football Correspondent:


“Reforming Westminster’s antiquated and undemocratic voting system would benefit everyone except the two major political parties who maintain a political cartel over government. Reform is a traditional hobbyhorse of the Liberal Democrats, who have the most to gain in the short run, but electoral reform has more to offer than merely upping their vote share.

If politicians truly want an end to the sleazy, scandal driven politics they are so keen to blame the media for, then changing the voting system is their best chance. But will they have the courage to keep their promises on reform? I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

from an Article in the Guardian by James Ball, January 2008


“Our constitutional arrangements have never been fixed, nor should they be. A strength of the British Constitution is that it evolves to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of our democracy.”

Michael Wills (The Minister of State for Justice, Ministry of Justice), 24 January 2008


“Voters of small parties are much more likely to stay at home in first-past-the-post elections when they know their candidate has little chance of success, depressing their recorded support.”

Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 February 2009


“The advantage of STV is that as well as being more proportional, it maintains the strong councillor-ward link, or potentially the strong MP-constituency link.”

John Mason MP, 18 December 2008


“I think if you get a much more diverse group of people coming into the political system then with a system of PR you’ve got a far more accurate representation of society.”

Yasmin Qureshi, Labour PPC for Bolton South East (at Compass Conference 2008)


“First past the post is an electoral system that has many inbuilt barriers to reflecting properly the democratic views of a local population.”

Paul Holmes MP (Chesterfield LD) on 3 February 2009 to the Public Bill Committee regarding the Policing and Crime Bill.


“One great virtue of the single transferable vote-they found this in New Zealand almost immediately after its introduction, and in Scotland-is that it creates a much better balance of elected candidates.”

Paul Holmes MP (Chesterfield LD) on 3 February 2009 to the Public Bill Committee regarding the Policing and Crime Bill.


“STV has the added bonus that the public choose both the party and the individual.”

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