Bournemouth Conference’s Electoral Reform Agenda

Our AGM

As announced in our previous newsletter, we will hold the LDER AGM during Conference. As well as official business, it’s a chance for members to discuss the broader strategy for electoral and political reform; what we should be doing and what opportunities exist in the present social and political crisis.

Here are full details of the agenda and meeting timing and location (we’ve arranged this so you can easily get to the Conference Centre in time for Leader Jo’s closing speech).

Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Tuesday 17 September 2019, 12:30 – 13:30

Breakfast Room, Chocolate Box Hotel, 2 West Cliff Road, BH2 5EY

(Approx. 5 minutes walk from the main Conference Centre)

AGENDA

1.    Apologies for Absence

2.    Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 16 September 2018

a.    Accuracy

b.    Matters Arising

3.    Reports

a.    Chair

b.    Treasurer

c.    Membership Secretary

4.    Annual Accounts

To consider and approve the annual accounts for 2018.

5.    Membership fee

To set the annual membership fee at £10 and the concessionary fee at £5 for the year commencing 1 October 2019.

6.    Election of Officers and Executive Committee Members

a.    Chair

b.    Secretary

c.    Treasurer

d.    Membership Secretary

e.    Up to five Ordinary Members of the committee

7.    Appointment of Examiner

To appoint an Examiner of the accounts for 2018.

8.    Activities:

To discuss

(a) possible widening of the remit of LDER;

(b) programme of LDER activities for 2019/20.

 

Our exhibition stall

You will find us on stand 32 in the main exhibition hall. As well as literature, questions and discussion, this year we’re offering the chance for you to rank, in order of importance, the qualities of a good electoral system.

We’re indebted here to Make Votes Matter, who launched the Good Systems Agreement in the Summer. The Agreement features several qualities inherent to a good electoral system — but which ones are the most important? Come to our stand and let us know (voting by 1,2,3…of course)!

 

Staffing the stall

Our stall will be active throughout the Conference. We’re looking for members willing and able to spare an hour or two to help staff the stand. It’s great fun and don’t worry if it’s your first time — we’ll make sure an experienced member is there with you.

Can you spare some time to help out? Fill in our doodle poll here.

 

Electoral Reform Fringe

‘Reining in the political Wild West’ — Electoral Reform Society (ERS)* and the Social Liberal Forum. Sunday, September 15, 2019: 18.15 Purbeck Suite, Highcliffe Marriott Hotel.

Real Democracy Now: a chance for Proportional Representation in 2019? Make Votes Matter, the campaign for PR for the House of Commons, is hosting a fringe event to mark International Democracy Day. The event will be held at St Stephen’s Church Hall, St Stephen’s Way BH2 6JZ at 19:30 on 15th September. Lord Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrat Constitution Spokesperson, and Wera Hobhouse MP are already confirmed speakers, with others to be confirmed shortly.

*Are you also an ERS member? If so, please note that, in the current Council elections, LDER exec member Peter Hirst is a candidate. Please consider a high preference for him: it would be good to have direct LDER/ERS links.

Summer special newsletter

Chuka talks to LDER

LDER exec member and Vauxhall PPC Sarah Lewis recently interviewed our new MP – Chuka Umunna – about his long-held belief in the need for electoral reform. It’s great to see him so resolutely supporting key Liberal Democrat principles and policies.

Click here or visit our Facebook page to watch the interview.

Jo talks to the Electoral Reform Society

During the recent leadership contest, Jo Swinson found time to discuss matters electoral reform with Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society. Her commitment to PR/STV as a priority shines through the conversation. Click here to watch.

Notice of LDER AGM and elections to the Executive

Our 2019 AGM will be held during the Bournemouth Conference  — venue and timings will follow shortly.

A key activity is to elect a new executive for 2019/20. Positions available are:

Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary; plus five ordinary members.

The executive meets, usually for an hour-long conference call, about ten times per year to pursue our remit of promoting an understanding of electoral reform among party members and to highlight its priority as party policy. Please let us know if you are interested in being on the executive; although it is also possible to nominate yourself at the AGM itself.

LDER at spring conference in York

Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform have had a busy weekend at the party conference in York. We had lots of visitors calling by at our stall, including Party President Sal Brinton. We were also pleased to support and attend the Electoral Reform Society’s panel discussion on Citizens’ Assemblies. A very enjoyable weekend spent furthering the cause of fairer, more representative politics! 

Pre-conference newsletter

Breakaway MPs, broken politics, and our emergency motion for PR

LDER has submitted an emergency motion for the York conference. See the last item in this newsletter for the full text.

The formation of ‘The Independent Group’ again shows how the current electoral system fails the voter by straitjacketing this country’s politics into two supposedly united but in truth warring parties.

Our motion reaffirms the need, more urgent and evident than ever, for a proportional system which  puts voter choice first, namely the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. PLEASE BACK US in this bid to make electoral reform a party priority once again. It is fundamental to mending the UK’s broken politics.

If you are at the Spring Conference, PLEASE VOTE to get our motion onto the conference agenda as the chosen Emergency Motion.  Do this by checking the Saturday Daily Bulletin, which will give instructions on the ballot to choose the motions.

Also at York — an Electoral Reform Society fringe event

Citizens’ Assemblies – How can ordinary people inform politics? Saturday March 16, 1-2pm; Meeting room 6, Novotel Hotel.

A chance to learn more first hand about deliberative democracy — how citizens’ assemblies (or their variants such as juries or a constitutional convention) can help develop a popular consensus on complex issues; and how ‘ordinary’ voters can get genuinely involved in the democratic process beyond a vote every few years. Speakers are drawn from the Society, which has done much pilot work on citizens’ assemblies recently, from our MPs and also from Involve, a charity championing deliberative democracy.

LDER exhibition stall — visitors and volunteers invited

You will find us on Stand 31 in the main Exhibition Area at York, so please drop by.

If you’d like to help staff the stall, we’d love to have you with us! You don’t need any special knowledge – just a passion for fairer and more democratic politics. Joining an exec member for even just an hour or two will be a big help — we’ll provide everything you need.

Just click here to see our stall rota, enter your name, pick your slot(s), and then turn up on the day.

It’s a great way to help raise the profile of electoral reform within the party and to engage with other members.

Membership Secretary — a vacancy

LDER is on the lookout for a party member to join our exec as membership secretary — our previous mem sec had to stand down for work reasons, though he left our members and supporters databases in good shape. But we do need someone to fill the vacancy. It needs only a few hours a month liaising and updating our spreadsheet — do see us on our stall or write to us.

Emergency Motion: The Independent Group and Proportional Representation

Proposed by  21 members (drafted by LDER, also supported by East Lothian local party)

Conference notes:
A.  The recent resignations from both Labour and Conservative parties of MPs and their formation of The Independent Group.

B. That this follows on from a process of increasing disagreements, not only on issues but also on fundamental principles, within both the two main parties, which remain held together only because of the democratic and voter constraints of the `First Past The Post’ (FPTP) electoral system.

C. That The Independent Group have yet to endorse Proportional Representation, despite it being essential to their objective to `fix our broken politics’.

Conference welcomes:
i)  Vince Cable’s immediate overtures to The Independent Group to work together to change British politics.

ii)  The party’s support for cross-party alliance building initiatives, especially by Make Votes Matter, whose draft Good Systems Agreement sets out the features of a democratic voting system. These align with the party’s longstanding principles of proportionality, increasing the choice and voice of the individual voter; ensuring all votes count equally; and enhancing constituency links between MPs and electors.

Conference believes:
a)  That the FPTP system is not only fundamentally undemocratic, but that it also distorts politics in an extremely unhealthy way, narrowing the range of policies that can be considered.  It makes it difficult for new parties to evolve and for existing ones to change, thus preventing the views of many voters from being heard.

b)  The pragmatic justifications often given in defence of FPTP, that it provides strong, single party government, decisiveness and stability, have been exposed as utterly bogus. The chaos of Brexit confirms that FPTP is a fundamental cause of our broken politics.

c)  That to renew politics it is essential that we replace FPTP with a proportional electoral system, and reaffirms the Party’s preference for the Single Transferable Vote because it allows voters to express their true preferences among a wide range of candidates.

Conference calls for:
1. The Independent Group, together with candidates of all parties who believe that we need a fair and effective electoral system, to commit to making proportional representation a non-negotiable demand in any negotiations around forming a government after the next General Election;

2.  with a commitment to set up a Citizens Assembly or Independent Commission with instructions to choose a form of Proportional Representation that meets the criteria of paragraph (ii) (lines19-23), and to hold any subsequent General Election under that chosen system.

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, [A link to a Doodle survey as 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