Campaigners oppose plans to change voting system for Tower Hamlets mayor

Mark Broadmore’s protest at Limehouse marina 

Mark Broadmore protests against the first-past-the-post voting system at Limehouse marina - Credit: Make Votes Matter 

Campaigners against plans to use the first-past-the-post system to elect the Tower Hamlets mayor came out on the streets banging pots and pans to “make a noise” for proportional representation.

They turned out to protest at some of the East End’s iconic locations as part of a national campaign on Saturday, July 31, bidding to reform the UK electoral system. 

It involved chanting, singing and banging pots and pans “to break the silence on the need for equal votes”.  

The action day organised by the Make Votes Matter campaign wants to stop plans by home secretary Priti Patel to use first-past-the-post polls for all future elections for executive mayors like Tower Hamlets and all police and crime commissioners.  

Campaigners also think proportional representative voting should be used to elect MPs to Westminster to "make sure all voices are heard in Parliament". 

Katherine Santos... at her Tower Hamlets group campaign stall for reforming voting system

Katherine Santos at her Tower Hamlets group campaign stall for voting reform - Credit: Make Votes Matter

“The Commons should match the percentage of votes a party gets,” Tower Hamlets campaigner Katherine Santos believes. 


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A campaign street stall run by East End voters was one of several across the UK in what organisers say has been the largest and noisiest mobilisation for proportional representation so far. 

Campaigners say the first-past-the-post system denies millions a voice in Parliament because their votes are lost if they did not back the winner at elections.

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It also encourages people to vote tactically which “distorts the will of the British people”, they believe.

Emma Knaggs, grassroots campaign director, said: “The system means seven out of 10 voters are muted at the ballot box, effectively with no voice. The campaign for equal votes has always been about making our voices heard.” 

The organisers are running a national online petition urging MPs against pushing through “this archaic system” on future elections for mayors and police commissioners.  

In a ministerial statement in March, Ms Patel said first past the post "provides for strong and clear local accountability".

East End Campaigners for electoral reform

Campaigning in the East End for electoral reform - Credit: Make Votes Matter

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