Lincolnshire politicians join hunger strike for democratic change on centenary of women’s suffrage

Ross Pepper. EMN-180602-152630001
Ross Pepper. EMN-180602-152630001

Two leading local politicians from the district are taking part in a 24-hour hunger strike calling for a change in the voting system in this country.

Coun Marianne Overton, county councillor for Bassingham and Welbourn and district councillor for the Cliff Villages has joined the call, along with Ross Pepper, who was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency in the 2017 General Election and 2016 by-election.

Coun Marianne Overton. EMN-180602-152528001

Coun Marianne Overton. EMN-180602-152528001

The hunger strike began at 8pm yesterday (Monday) and goes on until 8pm today.

Echoing the slogan of the campaign, Coun Overton, who is also Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents and vice-chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Yes, I am hungry for democracy! Progress towards equality of opportunity has been glacial.

“We are missing out on skills and talent that are much needed in running our services. We need to hear the many different voices if we are to make the right decisions for all our residents. A better system of voting would mean we had more voices at the table. As every vote would really count politicians would have a better reason to listen.”

MPs, MEPs and public figures will take part in the 24-hour hunger strike, commemorating the centenary of women’s suffrage and first winning the right to vote, highlighting that the struggle for democracy is far from over, and calling for the introduction of Proportional Representation instead of the current Parliamentary ‘first past the post’ system.

Proportional Representation gives a proportionate number of Parliamentary seats to each party, based on the number of total votes for each.

Ross Pepper said: “Across many of the constituency in Lincolnshire, people have no say over who their MP is. Only Lincoln has any opportunity to change their MP and still many people vote tactically to stop one candidate or another winning.

“In the rest of Lincolnshire, over 37 per cent of people who voted, that is over 100,000 people, had no opportunity to change their MP at all. Their vote was wasted as they could not influence the outcome of either the local result or the general election as a whole. It is a shameful situation where some residents have a far more powerful say in elections than residents elsewhere in Lincolnshire.

“Every person’s vote should be equal and that is why we need a proper proportional representative system so every vote is equal. This is one of the biggest reforms we need to our democracy today. It will show that people can change elections and their vote does matter. This is why I am going hungry for democracy!”

High profile supporters from the Green Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and UKIP are joined by hundreds of people across the UK.

Klina Jordan, Co-founder of Make Votes Matter said: “It’s 100 years since the first women won the vote, but the struggle for democracy in the UK is far from over. Our First Past the Post voting system denies representation to millions and all but guarantees divisive minority rule.

“Proportional Representation simply means that Parliament fairly reflects the voters - something most developed countries already take for granted. We call on everyone who wants real democracy in the UK to join the movement for Proportional Representation.”