Event Alert: Join the People’s Lobby for PR

12 noon 11 December; Westminster

Will you join the People’s Lobby for Proportional Representation on Tuesday 11th December?

This December, the cross-party movement for PR will descend on Parliament for a mass lobby, organised by Make Votes Matter and co-hosted by MPs from five political parties, including of course the Liberal Democrats.

Disgust at the way our electoral system distorts and damages our politics, from the terrible Brexit mess to the spectacle of the DUP — with its total of 300,000 votes — calling the shots in Government, is growing.  Even the Labour Party – the traditional stumbling block for electoral reform – is coming under pressure from its own membership to back reform.

It’s a battle we can best win by taking joint action alongside supporters of all parties who want an equal, proportional system where the power and choice of the individual voter is enhanced.

We invite you to take action to help make PR a reality. Click on the link below for details and to register and confirm your attendance.

Show your support for fair votes by coming to the People’s Lobby for PR

We hope you can join us.

LDER executive

LDER AGM 2018

If you’ll be at Liberal Democrat conference this weekend, come along to our AGM! It’s your chance to elect our committee for the coming year and discuss our campaigning priorities.

We are meeting in the Rum Attic of Revolution, 77 West St, Brighton BN1 2RA on Sunday 16 September, 16.00-17.00.

 

The agenda is as follows:

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 17 September 2017

Accuracy

Matters Arising

3. Reports

Chair

Treasurer

Membership Secretary

4. Annual Accounts

To consider and approve the annual accounts for 2017.

5. Membership fee

To set the annual membership fee at £10 and the concessionary fee at £5 for the year commencing 1 October 2018.

6. Election of Officers and Executive Committee Members

Chair

Secretary

Treasurer

Membership Secretary

Up to five Ordinary Members of the committee

7. Appointment of Examiner

To appoint an Examiner of the accounts for 2017.

8. Activities:

To discuss the activities of Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform.

Ends

 

You can download print-formatted copies of the AGM agenda and last year’s minutes here:

Pre-conference news from LDER

BRIGHTON CONFERENCE (September 15-18)

Why care about electoral reform? Your chance to comment

The LDER stand at Conference (stall 26, Exhibition Hall) is the chance for all members to post views on what messages will make electoral reform appeal powerfully to the general public — overcoming the age-old dilemma where voters support PR / electoral reform, but only rate it as low priority. LDER — with support from Your Liberal Britain — has devised a series of slogans/messages which ‘sell’ electoral reform from the public point of view. Come along to our stall and tell us which ones you think work best — and tell us of any you think will work better.

Staffing the LDER stall

As always, we’d appreciate volunteers to help us man the LDER Conference stall during Conference. If you have an hour or two spare, please let us know by completing this doodle poll: https://doodle.com/poll/ut6fnqizuzp9z89p

LDER AGM — recruiting new executive members and a Chair

Our AGM will be held on Sunday September 16; 4-5pm; at Revolution (in the Rum attic), 77 West Street, BN1 2RA.

Please join us. As always we welcome all party members, including potential fresh executive committee members.

This year also, our Chair Crispin Allard is stepping down having completed his three-year term. If you are interested and think you could become our next Chair, please contact Crispin to discuss the role and possibilities — info@lder.org

An electoral reformer’s guide to Brighton

Apart from visiting our stall and joining our AGM, here are some possible Conference highlights:

Saturday Sept 15: 14.40 (main hall): ‘Power for People and Communities’ policy debate. (note the call for STV for local government elections in the motion lines 49-50)

Sunday Sept 16: 18.15, Brighton Centre room 1A — ‘Is our electoral system fit for purpose?’
A joint Social Liberal Forum/Unlock Democracy debate on the recent Electoral Commission report and the Cambridge Analytica damage.

Monday Sept 17: 17:00 ‘What can I do to speed up electoral reform?’ Speakers’ Corner event next to the Your Liberal Britain stand (number 12) in the Exhibition, in collaboration with Make Voters Matter.

Monday Sept 17: 18.15 Hilton, room Surrey 2 — ‘Is compulsory voter ID sensible security; or voter disenfranchisement?’ A joint Rowntree Trust/Political Skills Forum debate.

Tuesday Sept 18: 11.30 (main hall); LD priorities for a better Britain. (note: supporting paper calls for PR for Westminster elections and votes at 16).

LDER

info@lder.org
www.lder.org
Facebook: LibDemsForElectoralReform

LDER Brighton Conference Stall

Are you coming to Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton (15-18 Sept)? Would you like to help raise the profile of electoral reform as an issue within the party?

One great way to do this is to volunteer a couple of hours of your time to help staff the LDER stall in the exhibition area. No special knowledge is needed – just enthusiasm!

If you’d like to help, you can sign up for a stall slot to suit you using our Doodle Poll here. Just enter your name on the left-hand side of the poll, and click any time-slots which you can cover.

Once you’ve picked your slot(s), simply report to stall 26 in the Exhibition Hall at the time you’ve volunteered for, and we will show you what to do. The main activities are collecting contact details from people who would like to join our mailing list, giving people ballot papers for a survey we’re doing to find the most popular electoral reform messages and generally chatting to people about electoral reform!

Seeking new committee members

Would you like to get more involved in the work of Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform? We are currently looking for new ordinary members for our Executive Committee, as well as a new chair.
 
If you’d like to know more about what we do before putting yourself forward, you can read about us here, or our objectives here. You are also very welcome to email our current chair, Crispin Allard, at info@lder.org for more information about any committee role. Crispin will be very happy to provide pointers and guidance for anyone interested in taking over the role of chair.
 
The new committee will formally be elected at our AGM, scheduled to take place during Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton next month. However, you do not have to be able to attend the AGM to become a committee member – the process can be handled in absentia.

Spring Conference in pictures

LDER had a very successful and enjoyable Spring Conference in Southport. At our stall, we ran a consultation on Lords Reform, finding a wide range of views amongst party members and sparking lots of interesting conversations.

We also helped to support a fringe event run by Your Liberal Britain entitled ‘Why should anyone care about electoral reform?’ Liberal Democrats certainly do care, as was clear from the packed room full of people wanting to help identify successful messages which might convey the importance of the issue to voters.

Groups worked together to think about persuasive messages targeted towards different types of people, such as:

  • Do you want one party in perpetual control?
  • Steady the political ship.
  • Gets you representatives who love what you love.
  • You vote should count like everyone else’s.

We’ll now be working through the workshop outcomes in detail, to think about how and where the messages identified can best be deployed.

Electoral reform: current opportunities and threats

Spring conference in Southport

As usual, LDER will be at Liberal Democrat spring conference with two opportunities for you to get involved in electoral reform activities.

1. Fringe Event: Why should anyone care about electoral reform?

This will be a members’ interactive session about making the benefits of electoral reform clear and vivid to voters.

We know the problem: most people support fair, equal voting, but only see it as a ‘nice to do’ and not high priority.

Jim Williams (Your Liberal Britain) will lead the session so that we, the party members, can step up the campaign with fresh, arresting messaging. Good for reform and good for the Liberal Democrats.

Details: March 10; 1-2pm. Ramada Plaza Hotel, Promenade Room.

2. LDER exhibition stall

We are looking for colleagues to help us staff the stall. If you can spare an hour or two, please fill in our Doodle survey here. If not, please drop by for a chat!

 

Opportunities and threats

More broadly, 2018 is underway with a volatile mix of opportunity and threat for electoral reform.

 

Opportunites

Defining the outcomes and qualities of a good electoral system was the theme of January’s multi-party alliance session; hosted by Make Votes Matter and attended by LDER. All agreed party proportionality was the most visible benefit of a fair, equal voting system; but alongside this, increased voter choice and power and more diverse representation (gender, age and ethnicity) was backed heavily. This constructive discussion is a step towards finding consensus on the best system to adopt when the time comes to ditch FPTP. The Liberal Democrats were led by President Sal Brinton and Lord Paul Tyler

 

There are prospects for further reform in both Scotland and Wales.

In addition to the proposal of the Welsh Government to use STV instead of FPTP for council elections, the Assembly have now brought out a Report. This recommends changing the Assembly’s own electoral system to STV.  However, it is far from certain that either reform will happen, as the ruling Labour party are divided on the issue.

 

In Scotland, there is a new consultation on electoral reform that concentrates mainly on improving the current STV council elections system. It does not discuss the option of changing the Scottish Parliament system to STV, despite the numerous criticisms of the present Additional Member System: but it is of course open to respondents to suggest this.  The consultation closes on March 12.

 

And the threats

‘Every Voice Matters’ is the (we can only assume unintentionally) ironic title of a Cabinet Office paper which proposes to do away with Supplementary Vote (SV) for Mayoral and PCC elections – and replace it with FPTP!  Now, we are not huge fans of SV but it’s a sight better than FPTP. The slightly hopeful news is that the minister responsible for this has just been reshuffled (Chloe Smith has taken over from Chris Skidmore) and that might slow things down or better still bring them grinding to a halt. But we can’t be too confident: we need to watch this and work with our MPs to kill it.

 

Crispin Allard

Chair, LDER

December Newsletter

Cross Party Alliances

On October 17, Make Votes Matter (MVM) held an electoral reform all-party alliance meeting in Westminster. LDER was there, along with party President Sal Brinton and Lord Paul Tyler, our Lords Spokesperson for Political and Constitutional Reform.  Paul and Sal both spoke about principled support for a system which serves not cheats the people. Narrow party advantage is the wrong perspective. All parties, with the notable exception of the Tories, were there. Labour reps (including Jonathan Reynolds and Paul Blomfield) were also convincingly pro-reform. Let’s see if they can convince the Corbynistas…

On October 30, following a public petition led by MVM with support of the Electoral Reform Society, a Westminster Hall debate on electoral reform took place. This time some Tories were there (!) presenting Neanderthal pro-status quo arguments, based on falsity (claiming AV was a proportional system), and a nostalgic-cum-deranged belief that if it was British, then it had to be best. Our new Bath MP, Wera Hobhouse, provided powerful pro-reform arguments, drawing in part of her experience of her native Germany to do so. Labour (including Stephen Kinnock) was again present and forcefully pro-reform. Make Votes Matter have posted a report of the event, including videos of the main speakers, here.

Whether this ‘momentum’, especially within Labour will finally lead to change remains to be seen. We will ensure our party’s positive involvement in next steps to reform.

 

Votes at 16

Our MPs have also been working with Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green colleagues to extend voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds for all UK elections. A private member’s bill put forward by Jim McMahon MP (Lab/Co-Op, Oldham and Royton) and selected by Oldham youth council, provided an opportunity for debate in the Commons on this important topic.

McMahon introduced the Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement and Education) Bill by emphasising that it commanded cross-party support.

For the Liberal Democrats, Christine Jardine MP highlighted the success of involving 16 and 17 year olds in the Scottish referendum, noting that their contributions had been among the most informed, enthusiastic and incisive, and had brought many more young people into politics. Addressing some of the arguments against the bill, Wera Hobhouse MP drew comparisons with the case to resist votes for women a century ago.

Unfortunately the debate had to be adjourned due to time constraints and will resume on 1 December. This bill is unlikely to become law, but has raised public awareness of the issue and attracted considerable media attention. The UK Youth Parliament and NUS are currently campaigning actively for votes at 16, and have also been discussing the subject in recent weeks.

 

Can you help?

At LDER’s September AGM, a new exec for 17/18 was elected: Crispin Allard (Chair), Penny Goodman (Secretary), Richard Lawrie (Treasurer), Martin Walker (Membership) plus Denis Mollison, Paul Mott, Helen Parker, Keith Sharp and Philip Smith.  (At our November exec, Keith was elected Vice Chair.)

But there is lots to do! An AGM suggestion was to share our programme and work agenda with our activists, so people can chip in and support the cause according to expertise and availability.

A current priority need is a literature (print and on-line) refresh. Our ‘general’ leaflet is factually up to date (as of June ’17 election), but could really do with a re-design, to make it more punchy-looking. We are also writing updated leaflets on Lords reform and England and Wales local government and so need help both in writing and designing.

So: if you are a great (or even only pretty good!) layout designer or writer, please write to us (see below). Any other contributions you can make – please let us know that too.

Crispin Allard

Chair
Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

Make votes matter in Wales

If you would like to see a fairer voting system used for council elections in Wales, please respond to the Welsh Government’s consultation on electoral reform before 10th October.

If you want to respond to the whole consultation (there are other interesting issues, including votes for 16 and 17 year olds), you can fill in a form available online here. Note that if you want to support STV, it is probably best to do this under the final Question 46 (“other related issues”).

Alternatively, you may find it simpler to write your own response as an email to RLGProgramme@wales.gsi.gov.uk with subject: “Consultation on Electoral reform in local government in Wales” and stating which parts of the consultation you wish to comment on, e.g. “Section 4. The voting system”

One simple response would be to ask that the Welsh Assembly to follow the example of the Labour/LD coalition in Scotland, which brought in STV for council elections through a simple act of the Scottish Parliament, the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004.  Note also that Northern Ireland has had STV for council elections since 1973 (brought in by a Conservative government at Westminster).

Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform executive committee member Denis Mollison has written an article on this issue for Liberal Democrat Voice which includes more information about the consultation, and what sort of responses might help to secure fairer voting in Wales.