Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, met with twenty-five Politics students at the University of Bath last week to explore the question: What does a good democracy look like?
The students are taking a Politics unit on "Comparative Elections & Voting" as part of their third year studies. The course covers democracy and voting systems in different countries.
With electoral reform back on the political agenda and questions over whether an entrenched two-party system is good for Britain, Wera was keen to hear the hopes and aspirations of new voters.
The first issue raised by the students was that under the current system, an individual’s vote doesn't count. They felt that the two main parties don't represent them, for example in terms of their diversity. Others felt that a personal link to their representative was important.
Wera is a passionate advocate of proportional representation. Before being elected to Parliament in 2017, she was a Board member of the Electoral Reform Society which is the national organisation campaigning for a better democracy, and, more recently, Citizens’ Assemblies. Wera is Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Proportional Representation.
Wera said: “With two parties dominant in UK politics, they will in all likelihood fight against a move towards a plural multi-party democracy. Any change will need to come from smaller parties. By all working together cross-party, we can try to achieve electoral reform.”
From the discussion with the students, it became clear that in order to create a good democracy, you need a voting system where every vote counts. People become disengaged and switch off if they feel they aren’t being represented.
Wera would like to extend her gratitude to the students for an excellent discussion, and to Dr Ana Weeks for organising the constructive session.
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