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

AGM agenda

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 at The Balmoral Hotel, 11-13 Kerley Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5DW on Sunday 17 September, 15.30–16.30.

 

The agenda is as follows:

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 18 September 2016

Accuracy

Matters Arising

3. Reports

Chair

Treasurer

Membership Secretary

4. Annual Accounts

To consider and approve the annual accounts for 2016.

5. Membership fee

To set the annual membership fee at £10 and the concessionary fee at £5 for the year commencing 1 October 2017.

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 2016.

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:

LDER at Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference

Exhibition Stall

As usual, LDER will have an exhibition stall at the Bournemouth Conference. You can find us at Stall CZ3, in Solent Hall (the main exhibition area). Do visit us for a chat or to ask any questions you have.

We are also looking for volunteers to help out on the stall for an hour or two. No special knowledge is needed – just enthusiasm – and it’s a great way to help raise the profile of electoral reform within the party.

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

Annual General Meeting

Our AGM this year will be held on Sunday 17 September, 15.30–16.30 at the Balmoral Hotel, 11-13 Kerley Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5DW. You can see a map of the location here.

All members are very welcome – this is your chance to come and elect the new committee, and to contribute to the discussion on what we should do in the coming year.

If you are interested in getting more involved with the activities of Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform, we are also looking for new committee members. If you’d like to know more about what’s involved and how you can help, you can come and have a chat in person at our stall in the exhibition area or drop us a line at info@lder.org.

Other Highlights

Other opportunities to promote or discuss electoral reform while at conference include:

Main Auditorium:
•    Saturday 10.10–11.40: Consultative session: Party Strategy Consultation.  Have your say to ensure electoral reform features strongly in the party’s strategy for the next five years.

Fringe:
•    Sunday 13.00: Social Liberal Forum – Dark Money: a threat to the integrity of UK elections? Highcliff Marriott, Sherbourne Suite.
•    Sunday 18.30: Electoral Reform Society & Make Votes Matter Drinks Reception. Hilton, Rule to Blot Room.
•    Monday 13.00: Electoral Reform Society – Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit. Highcliff Marriott, Sherbourne Suite.

August Newsletter

Another undemocratic election result

Record numbers of wasted votes; a tiny minority wielding power in Westminster – once again, the British electorate has been cheated by First Past The Post (FPTP).

Electoral Reform Society research shows 22 million votes were wasted in June 2017; and that 6.5 million voters felt the need to vote tactically to get what they wanted. The rise of tactical voting websites during the election is even more recognition that FPTP frustrates, rather than reflects, voters’ views.

And for power, the Conservatives rely on a party – the DUP – which gained less than 300,000 votes in total. Another irony. FPTP, we are told by its advocates, assures single-party majorities and governments, but with the second hung parliament in three elections, a tiny disproportionate party is kingmaker (contrast that with 2010, when we had nearly seven million votes or 23% of votes cast).

It’s only the self-interest of the two main parties that perpetuates this rigged system.

 

Vince’s reform pledge

It’s great to see that Vince Cable has included political reform among his top five ambitions for the party. He says:

“Our political system is broken and no longer fit for purpose.

The House of Commons is unrepresentative and tribal.

The Lords are chosen by patronage, not the people.

The party funding system gives wealthy people undue influence.

English local government has been nationalised, creating the most centralised system of government in the Western world.

I want our party to be in the vanguard of demands for radical reform.”

 

A look ahead to Autumn Conference (16-19 September)

LDER will be running an exhibition stall at the Bournemouth Conference, so do visit us.  We are also holding our AGM on Sunday 17 September, 15:30–16:30 at the Balmoral Hotel, 11-13 Kerley Rd, Bournemouth, BH2 5DW.

Fuller details of our conference activities, and how you can get involved, will follow soon in our Conference Special newsletter.

Come find us at conference!

Liberal Democrat Spring conference starts today in the York Barbican. If you’re coming along, don’t forget to come and find us on stall 15 in the exhibition area.

We’ll be very happy to have a chat about why our electoral system needs reforming, current LDER campaigns and how it all fits in with the upheaval following from the EU referendum.

Call for conference stall volunteers!

Coming to Liberal Democrat conference in York? Fancy chatting to members about electoral reform? We’re looking for volunteers to help on our stall.

You don’t need any special knowledge – just a passion for a fairer and more democratic politics. We’ll be there to brief you on what to say and provide everything you need.

[There was a link  here for our stall rota.]

If you’d like to help, please enter your name on the left-hand side of the poll, and click any time-slots which you can cover. It’s a great way to help raise the profile of electoral reform within the party.

Prioritising Proportional Representation

Welcome

Firstly, a warm welcome to Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform to all those who have joined in the past month.  Featured in this newsletter are a report on Autumn Conference and details of how LDER will be endorsing candidates for this year’s elections to federal committees.

 

Autumn Conference Report

At Brighton, our PR amendment was successfully included in the Europe motion. See the revised Clause 7 in the motion as passed.

Less positively, our attempt to get a motion prioritising PR onto the Conference agenda – following the initiative of the late David Rendel – was rebuffed by Federal Conference Committee.

But at a time when electoral reform is increasingly being highlighted by other parties, it is strange that the Liberal Democrats are quiet on the issue.  It seems the upper echelons of the party still don’t get why we need to be prioritising this issue now.  LDER will continue working to convince them.

We also signed up over 150 members and supporters at our stall, and supported a well-attended Electoral Reform Society reception with guest speaker Dorothy Thornhill.

 

Federal Committee Elections

This year sees a number of significant changes to the election of federal committees, including all-member voting, a move to 3-year terms, quotas for under-represented groups and a new Federal Board.  For LDER, the key committees to influence are:

Federal Board: Prioritising PR in the party’s campaign strategy and its discussions with other parties, whether before or after the next General Election.

Federal Policy Committee: Ensuring our policy of STV for the House of Commons and Local Government features prominently in the Manifesto.

Federal Conference Committee: Getting our motions/amendments onto the conference agenda so members can show their support.

And for the first time, LDER will be endorsing candidates for federal committees, using our mailing list (over 800 active party members), Facebook page (over 4,000 members) and website.  We will endorse candidates who:

  1. Are members of LDER (if you’re not yet a member you can join here).
  2. Make a commitment to our strategic goals of prioritising PR/STV in the party’s campaign strategy, its manifesto and its discussions with other parties, whether before or after the next General Election.

So if you’re planning to stand for one or more of the above committees and are willing to meet the criteria above, please get in touch with me at crispin.allard@gmail.com as soon as possible.  Please note that nominations for all committees close on 2 November.

Regards,

Crispin Allard

Chair, LDER