Our political system is broken, claims former Labour MP Angela Smith

Former Labour MP Angela Smith believes the UK’s current voting system is “past its sell by date.”

Mrs Smith, who now represents new political party Change UK, says voters are demanding more control over political choices.

The MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge said events over the last four years led her to believe the first-past-the-post system is no longer viable.

“What’s really apparent now is that the two-party system is no longer fit for purpose,” she said.

“The justification for it is that it produces strong government and makes the system simpler. But I think that’s over. I don’t think voters trust the political parties to manage the democratic process.”

In the past decade, parties have struggled to secure significant majorities in Parliament.

In 2017, Theresa May had to rely on support from Northern Irish party the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) to form a government.

Arguments against proportional representation often cite the power that could be given to smaller, more extreme parties.

Europe has recently experienced a rise in far-right movements with Spain the latest country affected. On Sunday, radical Spanish party Vox took 10% of the country’s vote, winning 24 seats in the congress of deputies.

However, Mrs Smith believes the best way to tackle far-right politics is at the ballot box.

She said: “Democracy shouldn’t work to banish the extremities of the political spectrum by legislation.

“If there is support for an extremist party in society, as long as it is not a party which breaks the law with racial hatred or anything like that, then we have to be up front about that.”

Saturday will mark eight years since the UK held its alternative vote referendum as part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement. This resulted in a decisive ‘no’ from the public.

However, voter turnout was only 42% and proportional representation was not part of the alternative votes option during the referendum.

Mrs Smith believes there would have to be a genuine commitment from a coalition government for any change to be implemented.

She said: “What we ought to avoid is what Nick Clegg did in 2010 when he grabbed at a promise of a referendum on AV and then blindly went stumbling into it without any preparation or voter indication about it.

“It was a throwaway concession by David Cameron which had no meaning behind it. Last time he (Cameron) gave Clegg the referendum then proceeded to wreck it, we can’t be doing with that next time.”