Hackney protesters bang drum for a better voting system

Make Votes Matter supporters outside the Growing Communities Farmers Market in Stoke Newington. Photograph: Make Votes Matter

Local residents chanted, sang and banged on pots as they took part in a day of action calling for a return to proportional representation at the ballot box.

The members of national campaign group Make Votes Matter said the current first-past-the-post (FTFP) system is “undemocratic”, as they made noise at the same time as hundreds of others across the UK.

The protest on 31 July came after home secretary Priti Patel announced plans to introduce FTFP in future mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections.

Make Votes Matter says the system means people vote tactically rather than for who they believe in and denies millions of people a voice.

Dominic Simpson, who lives in Hackney and took part in the action, said: “I believe in moving to proportional representation because FTFP is a deeply regressive and undemocratic system.

“Proportional representation would match votes with seats and the rest of Europe except for Belarus has adopted it.”

Emma Knaggs, grassroots director at Make Votes Matter, said of Patel’s announcement: “This would be a backward step for our democracy and leave millions more voters without a voice in politics, being governed by officials they simply didn’t vote for.

“FTFP means seven out of 10 of us are muted at the ballot box, effectively with no voice. The Make Votes Matter campaign for equal votes has always been about making our voices heard.”

Patel says the new plans to use the system would bring “strong and clear local accountability”.

Make Votes Matter also criticised the controversial police, crime, sentencing and courts bill currently before parliament, saying it could curtail the right to peaceful protest.

This month, the joint committee on human rights said the crime it introduces of ‘causing a nuisance’ was too vague to be understood and opposed the bill’s “disproportionate” plan to impose noise limits on protests.

You can sign Make Votes Matter’s petition, ‘Less First Past the Post, not more’, here.