A REJUNIVATED Lansdown Hall filled to the rafters last night to welcome the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales Natalie Bennett.

Bennett, who led her party to secure almost a million votes in the General Election, was speaking at a cross-party meeting on electoral reform which was organised by the Stroud Green Party.

As a strong advocate of electoral reform she put forward an optimistic argument for a move beyond the current first-past-the-post system to a form of ‘fairer’ proportional representation.

Proportional representation is an electoral system in which the distribution of seats corresponds closely with the proportion of the total votes cast for each party.

Bennett said that under the current election system the Conservative Party won power with just 36.8 per cent of the vote.

"In no sane world is that a ruling majority," she said.

"The Green Party quadrupled its vote share in the general election. But we started off with one MP and we ended up with one MP.

"If we have a fairer system of representation then Caroline Lucas would have 23 other Green MPs sitting next to her in the Commons."

She called for the UK voting system to be changed, saying the current set up has ‘failed voters’ in the general election.

"It’s about time we saw some real, genuine, radical political reform. This would make sure people's choices were fairly reflected in Parliament, and would allow everyone to vote for policies they believe in.”

She went on to argue that while it is not a guarantee for better governance, a PR system would mean a 'seismic shift' in the way politics is done in the UK by ‘discouraging the Punch and Judy element, unwarranted tribalism, tactical voting, political point scoring and all the other darker sides of Westminster politics.’

Pointing to the rest of Europe as examples she said that the UK was one of the only countries 'stuck with this 19th century institution'.

Admitting that the push for electoral reform would not be an easy, she also argued the rise of social media meant that organised public pressure was more powerful than ever.

"But we've seen in just the last few months that popular people power can have an effect on government's decisions," she said.

"The refugee crisis was a good example how pressure from below - especially from places like Stroud - can make those in power see sense. The Conservative's change of stance of accepting refugees was a shift that was forced by community pressure.

"This will be a difficult process, but the political plates are shifting and the world is changing fast.

"While proportional representation isn't the answer to all the issues in this country, it is a start. It is one key tool for dealing with our democratic deficit.

"But 2020 is too far away to put this issue high up on the political agenda - we have to keep pushing now and keep the momentum going."

Stroud News and Journal:

Acknowledging that the Greens were not the only party to have been thwarted in May’s general election because of the current voting system, she said the party would work with ‘any and every one’ to fight for change.

She urged everyone to use social media to ‘tweet, Facebook and speak to one person every day about electoral reform’, saying that the time had ‘never been better’ for forcing radical change.

Bennett also called on every member of the audience to write to their MP Neil Carmichael about the issue.

The Green leader spoke on the panel alongside Richard Wilson, who stood locally as a candidate for the MyStroud MP 2015 campaign and has worked for many years on democratic participation, Rob Telford from the Electoral Reform Society and Cllr Brian Oosthuysen, Stroud Labour Party.

Sarah Lunnon, county councillor and Green Party candidate for Stroud at the 2015 general election, chaired the event which was attended by more than 150 people.