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north london mvm members at 6 feb 2018 vigilNorth London Make Votes Matter members David Brown (left), Laura Noel and Alan MurphyOn Tuesday 6th February North London campaigners braved the freezing weather and joined supporters of electoral reform from around the country in a 24-hour fast and vigil outside the Houses of Parliament.

Members of the North London branch of Make Votes Matter, including branch chairman David Brown, were among several hundred supporters of proportional representation who spent a day without food.  Their slogan: "Hungry for Democracy".  The significance of the date:  the centenary of the extension of the vote to some women and all men over 21, an important step in the gradual progression towards a fairer voting system.

mvm members at westminster vigilSome of the Make Votes Matter members from around the country who attended the vigil. There were also vigils in the north of England and in Wales.Those taking part in the vigil included many well known names from Parliament, journalism, TV and the music industry.  With political views across the spectrum, from UKIP on the right to Labour and the Green Party on the left, but all agreed on one thing - that the First Past the Post voting system does not provide a fair representation of the views ot the electorate and that it should be replaced by a true PR (proportional representation) system.

What Churchill said about First Past the Post

Churchill portrait NYP 45063

The present system has clearly broken down. The results produced are not fair to any party, nor to any section of the community. In many cases they do not secure majority representation, nor do they secure an intelligent representation of minorities. All they secure is fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.

Make Votes Matter in North London

Keith Hubbard of MVM North London outlines the movement's objectives and how it campaigns.

make votes matter logoJust how unfair is First Past the Post? 

Well, at the 2015 election a quarter of the electorate voted for UKIP, the Lib Dems or the Green Party,  But between them those parties won a mere 1½ per cent of the seats in Parliament.

If people think their vote will matter (as they did in the EU referendum), they will turn out to vote.  If they think that the outcome is almost a foregone conclusion (as it is in many constituencies), many just won't bother as their votes will be wasted.  In the 2015 general election the Electoral Reform Society calculated that 74 per cent of votes were wasted: cast for losing candidates or winning candidates above and beyond that needed to win a constituency, thus having no impact on the result of the election.  David Cameron commented that the result would be decided by the voting in just 23 constituencies.

How did Make Votes Matter start?

MVM grew out of an online petition that was started by a 16-year-old, Owen Winter, after the 2015 general election.  The petition received a quarter of a million signatures in just a few hours.  Owen was then joined by Klina Jordan and Joe Sousek, who between them launched Make Votes Matter.  And it's been growing ever since.

What about MVM North London?

We set up the branch in June 2016.  There are people with political viewpoints across the spectrum, but also those like me who just want a fair way of choosing an MP.  The only way to achieve that is through cooperation, it's in the interest of all parties.

We have members from across north London.  At our meetings we concentrate on discussing proportional representation, there's very little party politics - though we do ask people to state their allegiances, which range from the (reasonably) far left to UKIP.

We don't have a formal hierarchy, apart from a Chairman, who liaises with MVM headquarters in Bristol.  All the other work is done on a voluntary and as required basis.

How do our local MPs feel about PR?

bambos charalambousBambos Charalambous: "We have proportional representation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in London. It works very well. People understand it, and it delivers good government in all those regions."Last year we held a very interesting and productive meeting with Catherine West, the MP for Hornsey & Wood Green - she's very much a sceptic.

Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous is a supporter.

Tottenham MP David Lammy has also already expressed support for proportional representation.

How do you campaign?

We run monthly roadshows throughout north London.  So far we've been to Crouch End, Wood Green, Muswell Hill, Finchley, Barnet and Enfield, and we'll be visiting further local town centres.  If you come across one of our roadshows, please come and have a chat.

Just before Christmas we successfully set up shop in Archway as part of a constituency-wide campaign to collect signatures for a Christmas card to Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn demanding P.R.

We also campaign via the local press and for schools and colleges we have put together Education Packs on democracy, with a particular emphasis on proportional representation.

Don't worry; our methods are very peaceable and polite.  This is a very civilised revolution.

Where do you hold your meetings?

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at the Friends; Meeting House, Church Crescent, Muswell Hill, N10 3NE in the Rainforest Room at 7.00pm.

The group is run on an informal basis and there is a small collection for the room, between £.2.00 to £5.00 with any balance going to funds.

If you're interested in becoming involved, you're very welcome to come along.

The next meeting of Make Votes Matter North London is on Tuesday 13th February - click here for more details.


Facebook group: Make Votes Matter

Twitter: @MakeVotesMatter


North London contact:

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