The scourge of the ‘safe seat’ has to end. Totnes campaigners for electoral reform stage a protest.

It must be clear for all to see that an 80 seat majority won on 43.6% of the popular vote is very bad for democracy indeed, with this government exploiting their power to pursue damaging strategies and reward cronies whilst reneging on promises and lying with impunity. Ed

Totnes Make Votes Matter (MVM) group brought their own version of socially-distanced Christmas protest to our MP Anthony Mangnall on Friday 11th December just a year (all but a day) since he became MP for Totnes.

Two days after the General Election last year the group had a presence in the Civic Square and obtained about 140 signed postcards from individuals in the constituency asking Mr. Mangnall to campaign, on their behalf, for a fair voting system. Mr. Mangnall has publicly voiced his approval for our existing first past the post (FPTP) voting system which is increasingly widely opposed.

Barbara Smith, one of those in Totnes last year said: “We used up all of the cards we had very quickly…there is just so much enthusiasm for a change to a proportional voting system. We haven’t been able to do anything with them since so we planned to give them to him now”.

The group and supporters pushed the cards into a cushion representing Mr. Mangnall’s safe seat and together with an appropriate Christmas card gave them to Mr Mangnall’s secretary. The group had invited him to be present but sadly he wasn’t available.

Laurie Taylor said on behalf of the group:

“Totnes has been, what is called, a ‘safe’ seat for just about 100 years. Around about half, or 325, of all constituencies are ‘safe’: mostly Conservative and Labour. In these constituencies whichever way you vote you are very likely to get the same party you’ve had for ages. It is a complete injustice that our corrupt, unfit-for-purpose, FPTP voting system is allowed to cheat the electorate out of fair representation in the House of Commons. We are stuffing our cushion for our MP’s safe seat with these postcards to make it literally and symbolically uncomfortable.”

Klina Jordan, co-founder of Make Votes Matter, who joined the Totnes group in its festive, but serious ‘stunt’ said:

“I’m delighted to be able to join one of the most impressive local groups in our national network for this action. Make Votes Matter Totnes find ever-increasingly creative and impactful ways to get the message across that we urgently need equal votes. Without real democracy we cannot make the changes that are so desperately needed in this country and globally – on issues like the climate and ecological crises, staggering inequality and unprecedented health challenges – everything is impacted by politics. Join us and send a Christmas card to your MP asking for Proportional Representation – and share a selfie of you holding it online, with the hashtag #DemandDemocracy – to help bring about the most crucial change of our time.”