Newsletter: The route to reform – Bournemouth Conference report

The movement grows

Over 100 new members and supporters – many of them new party members – joined LDER during the Autumn Conference. That’s a great response to the disastrous May election result and any of our opponents who glibly assumed the Liberal Democrats and the Electoral Reform cause were sidelined by a single party Conservative Government (elected on a shameful minority of votes cast, of course).

There are now several parties, not just us, and a growing civic movement which is simply tired and disgusted at the state of our democracy. We need to firm up our policy priority within the party – and be prepared to work with others in common cause.

The thrust of policy thinking was to keep up the fight for local government voting reform, while arguing the case for an enquiry – a Citizen’s Assembly or Constitutional Convention – into public dissatisfaction with the gross distortion of democracy and abuse of power that the current Westminster electoral system propagates.

Any thoughts and ideas? Now’s the time to air your views – write to us.

Activities

LDER supported the Electoral Reform Society fringe about cross party and civic collaboration. NGOs and Green party members spoke; a statement from Stephen Kinnock MP (Labour) was read out – and a prominent Conservative commentator joined the standing-only packed floor of the meeting! We also promoted a Make Votes Count session on local government reform.

15/16 Exec

At our AGM, we elected the following exec: Chair – Crispin Allard; Vice-Chair – Keith Sharp; Secretary – Penny Goodman; Membership Secretary – Michael Kilpatrick; exec members – Denis Mollison, Helen Parker, Simon Pike and Gareth Wilson. Joe Otten will support our on-line work and member mailings. Thanks go to outgoing members Mark Pack and Chris Carrigan for all their support.

HELP!

The Treasurer role is not yet filled. Please let us know if you can help.

Finally

Thanks to everyone who helped sign up those 120 new supporters on our stall – that’s Crispin Allard, Helen Belcher, Penny Goodman, Chris Harris, Denis Mollison, Simon Pike and Keith Sharp. And special thanks to ERS staff: Katie Ghose, Darren Hughes and Charley Jarrett who also worked on the stall. Great teamwork!

You can see some pictures of our stall, including a visit from new Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, here.

LDER at Autumn Conference 2015

Electoral reform was very much a hot topic at Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference 2015. At usual, LDER had a stall in the Exhibition Hall, modelled here by our secretary, Penny Goodman:

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Hundreds of visitors stopped by to talk to us, including a couple of well-known faces. Here, new party leader Tim Farron shares his passion for electoral reform with incoming LDER chair Crispin Allard:

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And here is Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, deep in discussion with visitors to our stall:

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We had the pleasure of hearing Katie Ghose speak, too, on the Sunday evening as part of the ERS-sponsored fringe event, ‘Like Minds to Change Minds: building alliances for electoral reform’. Katie, Owen Winter MYP and Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam all spoke about the practical prospects for persuading people across all parties of the need for reform, and building alliances to achieve it.

The evening didn’t end there, though. Another fringe event on the topic of electoral reform followed, this time entitled ‘Changing the Political Map of Britain’, and concerned with the practical impact of STV for local government:

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STV for local government has been a campaigning priority for LDER over the past few years, so we were pleased to have the opportunity to find out more about the work which Lewis Baston and Martin Linton have done to model its effects in practice for every local authority in England. Our incoming chair Crispin Allard also spoke about the benefits of STV at local government level, as a means of ensuring better voter representation and more effective opposition on local councils. You can download your own copy of Lewis and Martin’s report here.