West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has argued in Parliament that electoral reform is necessary, not least to restore trust in politics and the democratic system.
Speaking in a debate on Proportional Representation, Mr Thomas said that since first standing for election in 2009 in the midst of the expenses scandal, there had been a continual erosion of trust in British politicians and the democratic system.
He called for a completely independent body to consider the need for reform, admitting that many people feel excluded from the current system.
“In Cornwall in 2017, sadly, many of the smaller parties, which did reasonably well in 2015, felt that there was no purpose in even putting forward candidates, so they refrained from even standing,” he said.
“That meant that the three main political parties shared about 98% of all the votes that were there to be had. It was a shame to me that people across Cornwall, including my constituents, felt there was no point in engaging in the 2017 election.”
With the Conservatives polling about 49% of the Cornish vote in that election, Mr Thomas admitted that, had there been a different system in operation, he probably would not have been elected but believes that the current system left people feeling unrepresented and without a voice. Whilst arguing for a rethink of how we choose our representatives any future system must maintain a constituency link.
He referred to a string of parliamentary debates which he has led since being elected – on community pharmacies, the post office network, fuel poverty, employment opportunities for people with disabilities and horse and rider safety – all of which have “been driven by a conversation with a constituent who has come to see me”.
“We need to maintain the opportunity for people to turn up and say, “Can you raise this on my behalf?” and for us to get on and do that,” he added.
“People must have the opportunity to feel that they have a stake in their democracy, as well as a voice.
“I work hard to make sure that I am approachable and accessible, and I want to make sure that my constituents’ voices are heard.”