I was pleased to read your report of the Make Votes Matter rally in Stroud on 22 August, which made the case for changing the way in which we elect MPs and councillors. Social distancing had meant that the number of people who could actually listen to the speeches and watch the street theatre was quite small.

Without hearing all the reasoning, people may say “Didn’t we settle this issue with the 2011 referendum?”. However, that was more about giving electors a chance to vote for minority parties without wasting their vote rather than ensuring that the number of MPs elected for each party reflected the number of votes cast for that party. As was pointed out at the rally, this is far from the case with our present Conservative government. Some of its proposed legislation is opposed by most other parties, who, between them, received more votes in the 2019 election than did the Conservatives. Proposed changes to the planning laws is just one example.

There may, too, be objections that elections using proportional representation (PR) lead to weak, coalition governments. If this does happen it is, I suggest, because discussion between parties being invited to join a coalition tends to concentrate more on the policies which divide them than on those which they have in common. It is quite possible for parties to agree that it is better to get some of their shared policies enacted rather than none. Stroud District Council provides a small example of how parties can work together effectively, though not necessarily entirely harmoniously. Strong, single-party governments can use their power to enact policies favoured only by their supporters, who, as we have seen, may be in a minority.

Studies have shown that voter turnout and interest in the government is greater where PR is in operation. This is essential for the preservation of democracy. It may be alarmist to suggest that it is at risk, but it is better than only being aware of any danger when it is too late. PR will lead to fairer governance and more certainty that government is really listening to the electorate.

Stephen Moore

Rodborough Hill