Chuka Umunna: Britain’s 'awful' voting system needs to be changed

The Labour MP says more voices would be brought to the table

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Indy Politics

Britain’s voting system is “awful” and needs to be changed, Chuka Umunna has said.

The former Labour leadership hopeful and former shadow business secretary said electoral reform would bring more voices into British politics that were currently excluded.

“We should change our voting system, I think our voting system is awful,” he told a fringe event organized by the think-tank Demos at the Labour party conference.

“I think we’d have a much better open and free-flowing politics if we had a different electoral system which meant that we had more parties and lots of different voices were brought to the table in a way they’re not at the moment.”

A proportional voting system like the ones used in the Scottish Parliament or Northern Ireland would allow more parties to have representation in parliament.

Mr Umunna said he would have liked the 2011 referendum on the Alternative Vote system to have been accepted, but that he accepted the result.

This system was not proportional but would have allowed voters to vote for their favorite candidate without fear they were letting another party beat their second preference.

At the last general election smaller parties lost out from the voting system. Ukip one only one seat despite taking 12.6 per cent of the vote.

By contrast the SNP won 56 seats despite taking 4.7 of the national vote and only standing in Scotland.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously suggested he would be open to adopting a more proportional voting system but that it would be the job of a constitutional convention to decide the issue.

At the same event Mr Umunna said he was worried by the Labour leadership’s new approach of  allowing MPs vote freely according to their conscience rather than being told how to vote.

Though Mr Umunna said he was not specifically opposed to planned free votes on Trident or Syria, he said the practice could not continue for other votes.