Expenses scandal boosts support for PR

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More people support proportional representation (PR) than the present first-past-the-post system in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal, according to a new survey.

The finding comes as Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary and front-runner to succeed Gordon Brown if he is forced out before the general election, calls on Labour to come out in support of PR. He denies it would help the British National Party win Commons seats even though the far-right group won two seats under PR at last month's elections to the European Parliament.

Writing in The Independent, Mr Johnson says the "alternative vote plus" system recommend by Lord Jenkins in 1998 would require parties to win at least 11 per cent of the votes before landing Commons seats. He argues that the expenses affair has strengthened the case for electoral reform, suggesting there are too many MPs with safe seats. He rejects David Cameron's claim that the present system offers strong government and clear election results. He says that when Lord Jenkins reported, there had been a single party government with a clear majority in only 64 of the previous 150 years.

The YouGov survey for the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society found that 34 per cent support PR, and 25 per cent want the present system.