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Protester arrested for covering Keir Starmer in glitter is 28-year-old campaigner called Yaz Ashmawi

A new political campaign group called People Demand Democracy has claimed responsibility for throwing glitter on Sir Keir Starmer during his speech at Labour’s party conference.

An activist stormed the stage seconds into the Labour leader’s speech in Liverpool on Tuesday and doused him with green glitter while shouting: “Politics needs an update… We demand a people’s house. We are in crisis, our whole future is in jeopardy.”

Sir Keir took off his suit jacket after being showered in glitter at the start of his speech – but insisted it showed why he changed his party from one of protest to one ready for power.

“If he thinks that bothers me, he doesn’t know me. Protest or power – that’s why we changed our party,” the Labour leader said.

The protester was wrestled to the ground seconds later and dragged off stage by security.

The incident raises serious questions about security at the Labour party conference and how an activist was able to storm the stage.

A senior Labour source said: “It is unbelievable – it could have been a pro-Hamas protester or something.”

Merseyside Police said a 28-year-old man was detained by security at the conference centre and “handed over to the police who arrested him on suspicion of S39 assault, breach of the peace and causing public nuisance”.

People Demand Democracy confirmed to i that the man is Yaz Ashmawi, a physicist and Extinction Rebellion activist calling for proportional representation to replace the current electoral system.

Extinction Rebellion told i that while Mr Ashmawi is an activist within the group, Tuesday’s protest during Sir Keir’s speech had no connection with the climate organisation.

People Demand Democracy said in a press statement that it is “a new group calling for an upgrade to the UK political system using civil disobedience to get their message across”.

People Demand Democracy has previously written to both Sir Keir and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for “a fair, proportional voting system for Westminster elections”.

The group also urged both the Labour leader and Mr Sunak to create “a permanent Citizens’ Assembly made up of people from all walks of life to discuss major long term issues without party political pressures”.

In a letter believed to have been sent to Sir Keir earlier this year, People Demand Democracy urged the Labour leader to replace the current first-past-the-post system with “a proportional voting system… within six months of getting into office”.

Proportional representation is an electoral system in which the distribution of seats corresponds almost directly with the proportion of the total votes cast for each party. For example, if a party gained 40 per cent of the total votes in an election, a perfectly proportional system would allow them to gain 40 per cent of the seats.

In comparison, the current system of first past the post means the electorate votes for their preferred candidate, and the candidate with the most votes is chosen represents the constituency or ward.

Campaigners have argued the system squeezes out smaller political parties from having their fair chance and encourages tactical voting.

The Electoral Reform Society claims the current first-past-the-post model “means the number of MPs a party has in parliament rarely matches their popularity with the public”.

This story is being updated

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