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Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Ukip candidates in Kent unite to urge changes to electoral system

PUBLISHED: 09:33 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:33 15 June 2017

Ballot Paper

Ballot Paper

(c) BasPhoto

Some 27 candidates have sent an open letter to prime minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Candidates from across five parties in Kent have joined forces to send a letter to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn calling for urgent changes to the electoral system.

In the pledge from some 27 candidates who stood across the county last week, including those from the Green Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Ukip and Christian Peoples Alliance, the argument is made that of the 1.3 million voters in Kent, only 5000,000 voted for an MP who now represents them - leaving some 800,000 without an MP who represents their views.

In a referendum in 2011, the electorate voted overwhelmingly against proposals to scrap the First Past the Post system, and replace it with the Alternative Vote (AV) method.

This suggested that rather than simply voting for one candidate on the ballot paper, the voter would instead be asked to rank one or more of the candidates in order of preference.

Stuart Jeffery, who organised the letter to the prime minister and Labour leader, and stood for the Green Party in Maidstone and the Weald last Thursday, said AV wasn’t the answer either, but insisted a radical shake-up of the electoral system was needed urgently.

He said: “We urgently need to reform our electoral system, the current one may have worked in Victorian times but life has moved on and most first world countries have moved with it.

“It is now time for the UK to introduce a properly democratic system to elect MPs.

“The current system means that number of votes that each party needs to gain a seat is completely disproportional.

“While the Greens returned one MP for 525,000 votes nationally and Ukip returned no MPs despite 594,000 votes, the total number of votes divided by the total number of MPs shows that Conservatives and Labour had averages of 43,000 and 49,000 votes per MP.

“This is not democracy and not proportional.

“The vast majority of OECD countries now have proportional systems of election for national government and of course we have proportional systems for regional and EU elections.

“The referendum in 2011 was for the Alternative Vote which is not a proportional system.

“The First Past the Post system is a flawed legacy that needs to be replaced urgently.

“Our electoral system is broken and a proportional system of election will help fix it.

“People need to have MPs who represent their views.”

Of the 17 seats in the county up for grabs last week, 16 were won by Conservatives, while Labour’s Rosie Duffield beat Tory stalwart Sir Julian Brazier in a shock result in Canterbury.

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