Parliament and Politics: Reformers urge Labour to adopt PR

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LABOUR should back a switch to proportional representation rather than more limited changes to the way MPs are elected, say members of the party's pressure group for electoral reform, writes Nicholas Timmins.

A survey of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform has shown 63 per cent in favour of an additional-member system, which links seats in the House of Commons to the share of the vote won; 16 per cent backed single transferrable vote - the form of PR that the Liberal Democrats favour. Only 15 per cent favoured versions of the alternative vote where candidates are knocked out locally until one gains a majority of the votes. That system does not ensure that the overall result is proportional to the votes cast.

The results were disclosed as three Shadow Cabinet members - Robin Cook, Marjorie Mowlam and Ann Clwyd - yesterday called at the campaign's annual meeting for Labour to this year drop its backing for 'first past the post'. Its Plant commission on electoral systems is expected shortly to recommend that.

Mr Cook said: 'Labour has been kept out of power for four of the past five decades by the present system. Surely we cannot go on supporting a system that gives total power to our opponents and leaves out the views of everyone else?'