Green MP Caroline Lucas had to set a Tory MP straight after he falsely claimed Winston Churchill was against electoral reform.
Steve Double was making the case for the UK’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system during a debate in Westminster Hall on Monday – but he got mixed up on the former PM’s stance.
The St Austell and Newquay MP said: “One of the strengths of our current FPTP voting system is that it is simple and it gives a quick and decisive result.
“Indeed, Churchill liked it and so did Tony Benn, men who not often agreed with one another, but on this they did.”
But the wartime Prime Minister was actually thought to be in favour of a proportional representation (PR) system.
Churchill has been quoted as saying: “The present system has clearly broken down. The results produced are not fair to any party, nor to any section of the community.
“In many cases they do not secure majority representation, nor do they secure an intelligent representation of minorities. All they secure is fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”
The famous Conservative was also on record as saying PR was “the fairest, the most scientific and, on the whole, the best in the public interest”.
The debate in Westminster Hall came about after more than 100,000 people signed a petition.
Double told MPs: “Across the political spectrum, there is a broad consensus that fptp works well, is understood by all and its perceived flaws are less grievous than any of the alternatives.”
He also said FPTP stops “extremist parties” from gaining power and produced stable government.
Double admitted that two of the last three elections had not produced a government with an overall majority but said: “In the contest of our history, that is still quite rare.”
He added that FPTP made governments more accountable to the electorate.
Lucas replied: “I cannot help but say the words DUP, first of all, on the issue of coalition government. It doesn’t seem to have done to have done very well under FPTP.
“Secondly, very quickly, Churchill was actually pro-PR so let’s make sure our facts are right.”
The Brighton MP also said that PR would boost voter engagement, adding: “PR would help tackle the reasons why people don’t vote at all.”
A study of the general election by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found huge swathes of Labour strongholds would be held by the Conservatives if Westminster adopted a proportional representation (PR) system.
The ERS said Westminster’s “broken” FPTP elections are more like lottery than a real choice.
According to its research, 6.5 million people felt compelled to vote tactically, rather than for their first choice, and the Conservatives could have won a majority if a tiny sliver of the population – 0.0016% – had chosen differently.
A jaw-dropping 22 million votes cast had no impact on the result whatsoever.
Voting reform has support from the Lib Dems, the Greens, some Labour MPs and the SNP, but the Conservatives have remained staunch opponents to changing the FPTP system.