Campaigners follow in footsteps of women's rights marchers more than 100 years ago

Part of a march in support of votes for women more than a century ago is being recreated this week.

Inspired by the Suffragist campaigners, a group who want reform of the current voting system have set off from Grasmere in the Lake District.

Several are dressed like the women campaigners of 1913 who took part in the "Great Pilgrimage" of that year, as supporters of votes for women headed to London to demand change.

"Hundreds of women walked across the country and the group that we are following walked from Carlisle to London," explains Anne Margaret Smith, from Make Votes Matter.

"We can't walk that far, we haven't got the time, but we're going to walk from Grasmere to Preston and our aim is the same as their aim, to raise awareness of an injustice really in our voting system."

More than a hundred years on they want a proportional representation system to elect MPs, which they say would more fairly reflect how people vote.

Campaigners in London in 1913. Credit: Courtesy of the Museum of London

Danny Smith, also of Make Votes Matter, says: "Under 'First Past the Post' the ruling party usually only gets a minority of the vote so for example the current government in power, about a 40% of the electorate voted for them which means they get all the power on the minority of the vote."

The campaigns of the early 20th century did eventually lead to change and today's marchers believe they could have success with what they're calling their Equal Votes Walk. 

The campaigners will be walking for six days, covering around 100 miles down to Preston.

They will be following in the footsteps of those who took part in the Great Pilgrimage more than 100 years ago and they'll be hoping that along the way their voices are heard too.

The Scottish Parliament already has a type of proportional representation, as do many others across Europe.

But when a referendum was held on changing the system for Westminster, it was heavily defeated.

That plan was different to what this group proposes though and they believe there is an appetite for a system where each party's share of seats matches the share of votes they win. 

Critics of Proportional Representation say it can lead to constant coalitions and a lack of divisive government.

But Ali Phillips, another of the walkers from Make Votes Matter, says of 'First Past the Post': "It's decisive in one way but it doesn't really get held to account properly so they get to make decisions without actually representing all the people in the country whereas other systems might allow us to encourage them to work together to come to a decision that represents everyone."

The walk will end with a rally in Preston on Saturday.