100 years of votes for women – where has it got us?

On 6th February 1918 the Representation of the People Act passed into law, extending voting rights to some women and all men over 21 for the first time. Until then, around 70% of the adult population were not allowed to vote.

Today all adults are allowed to vote but – thanks to our First Past the Post voting system – most of us still don’t have a vote that counts. In the 2017 general election, 68% of votes had no impact on the result, either going to losing candidates or piling up in safe seats without influencing the makeup up Parliament.

Some of us are hunger striking on Tuesday 6th to draw attention to the injustice of a voting system that denies representation to millions, returns Parliaments that don’t reflect the voters, and gives us governments that most of us didn’t vote for.

We face momentous change over the next few years over which we have no control. We voted for Brexit but not for the vital detail. Taking just one example, during this parliament we are likely to see the wholesale privatisation of the NHS. American experience suggests this will double the overall cost of the health service for a diminished service. Thus health care free at the point of use will become unaffordable. Most people in Weymouth will simply not be able to afford it. Many families will be bankrupted trying to care for someone who has become sick. My wife knows too many people in the USA who have suffered this way. Did we vote for this?

Regrettably, most MPs oppose changing the voting system for two reasons, holding onto their safe seats with all the perqs involved, and ‘tribal’ loyalty. They do not have the foresight that this will come back to bite them as things in Britain deteriorate; but it may be too late for most of us.

David Smith (address supplied)