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 using our Doodle Poll. 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.

Newsletter: Electoral Reform in a Liberal Society

New language for a longstanding liberal principle?

The gloves are off so far as the new political landscape is concerned – and the need for liberalism and our party are greater and more starkly urgent than ever.

One thing is clear: Liberal Democrats new and old see political reform as crucial. It ranks second among the values prioritised in the current Your Liberal Britain project.

The challenge: how should we express the benefits of voting reform to our members, to individual voters and to society as a whole? We know it is fundamental; but overall reform still eludes us. What can we learn; how should we adapt to the new political reality; how should we express the need to truly enfranchise, equally, all voters? We’ll be discussing this in York, so please bring your thoughts and suggestions to our stall!

Spring Conference, York: March 17-19

We will have our LDER stall in the Spring Conference exhibition, with the latest publications and prospects for electoral reform. More parties today back change and there is greater debate than ever within Labour about the case for a more fair and representative voting system.

If anyone can help staff our stand for a short period over the weekend, then please reply to this newsletter and let us know. All help appreciated.

Help shape our policies.

Two further policy working groups have been announced and are currently inviting applications from party members to join.

The two working groups are:
• Power for People and Communities
• Immigration and Identity.

The Power for People and Communities group will be looking at the power people wield in their local communities (including local government), the Liberal Democrat response to city deals and metro mayors, localism, community assets and initiatives, and workplace democracy. Investigating the potential for electoral reform to improve local decision-making and democratic accountability will be an essential part of this remit.

The remit of the Immigration and Identity working group has not yet been published.

The party regularly sets up policy working groups to investigate a policy area in some depth over the course of 12 to 18 months. The aim of each group is to produce a policy paper, supported by a motion to conference, based on consultations with members and expert evidence.

If you’re a party member, do you think you could make a contribution to either of these working groups?

For more on how to apply, go to: http://www.libdems.org.uk/policy-working-groups

Best wishes,

Crispin Allard
Chair

Sign the Parliamentary petition for Proportional Representation!

Our friends at Make Votes Matter have submitted a Parliamentary Petition calling for proportional representation.  I encourage you to join me in signing the petition and ask your friends to do the same.

Thanks,

Crispin Allard
Chair,
Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

Message from Joe at Make Votes Matter:

We need your help to get PR tabled for debate in the House of Commons. To make this happen, please sign and share the new, official Parliamentary petition calling for Proportional Representation.

As this petition is hosted by the Government’s official petition website, we can make sure it is debated by MPs if it receives over 100,000 signatures by April 2017. In just a few weeks it’s gathered more than 25% of the this target, but we need to keep signing and sharing to keep up the momentum.

With Liberal Democrats being joined in their support for PR by more and more MPs from Labour and even the Conservatives, this would be an ideal time to take this debate to the House of Commons. Securing a debate through a citizen-led petition is a great way to support these MPs by demonstrating broad public demand for electoral reform.

There are social media buttons on the petition page. Please use these to share the message with friends and contacts.

petition-generic

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

New opportunities for proportional representation

The dramatic changes in the UK’s political landscape following the vote to leave the EU are opening up new opportunities for PR.

The referendum result demonstrated the extent to which the FPTP system has allowed politicians to become distanced from the people they purport to represent – strengthening the case for reform.  It has also provided an impetus to those arguing for realignment on the Left, with the potential for Labour to split over the leadership, which would make PR essential.

One example is MoreUnited.uk, set up by Paddy Ashdown among others.  Whilst they have not yet fully defined the policies they will back, a number of “examples” are provided, including “Take the big money out of politics and reform the voting system to ensure every vote counts”.  Policies will be decided by its members, so I would encourage you to join me in supporting this initiative.

Autumn Conference – an opportunity missed …

Federal Conference Committee has failed to select our motion on Prioritising PR for debate at Autumn Conference, despite it being supported by 12 local parties and over 140 members.  To quote their response:

“FCC decided that they did not feel that now was the correct time in the political calendar, and taking into account the current political environment and the recent referendum result, to discuss this motion.”

We at LDER beg to differ!  We have decided to resubmit a cut-down version as an amendment to the Europe motion.

… and an opportunity to get pissed

Our friends at the Electoral Reform Society are holding a reception at 6pm on Sunday 18 September in the Gresham Suite at the Old Ship Hotel, King’s Road, Brighton BN1 1NR.

Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform – opportunities to get involved

As always, we will be running a stall at Conference.  If you would like to help out, just go to our Doodle poll  and indicate which slot(s) you want to do.  You don’t need to be an expert on voting systems – the main qualification is enthusiasm for the cause.

Our AGM will be at 2pm on Sunday 18 September at: The Quadrant (upstairs room), 12-13 North Street, Brighton BN1 3GJ.

In addition to an exciting constitutional amendment, we will be electing the LDER Committee for the coming year.  If you are interested in standing, or would like to know more about what’s involved, please contact me at crispin.allard@gmail.com.

Regards,

Crispin Allard
Chair, LDER

Newsletter: Join the Demo for Democracy

The Demo for Democracy is being held to demand Proportional Representation for elections to the House of Commons. Organised by Make Votes Matter, it is on the anniversary of the most disproportionate election result in modern times.

As Liberal Democrats, we should be in the forefront of the campaign for electoral reform – so pass this on to your local party and get as many people as you can to come along.

Demo for Democracy 2015
Last year’s rally for electoral reform saw a strong Lib Dem presence

 

Conference Report

A lively Spring Conference at York saw us recruit several new members, with over 50 party members signing up to our mailing list.  Thank you to all those who visited the stall, and particularly to those who helped out: Crispin Allard, John Cochrane, Lisa French, Cliff Grout, Denis Mollison and Richard Lawrie, plus Ed Molloy from ERS.

We decided not to run a fringe event this year, instead supporting events organised by others:

  • The Electoral Reform Society held an event to present the results of their Citizens’ Assembly pilots and discuss how a Constitutional Convention might work.
  • Pro PR, a new organisation in the electoral reform field, hosted a debate on the merits of an electoral pact on the single issue of PR for the House of Commons.

Crispin Allard
Chair, LDER

Newsletter: Liberal agenda 2020 – and electoral reform

Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform (LDER) are currently focused on ensuring electoral reform is re-cemented as a key element of the party’s liberal philosophy and values; and as a key policy for the future.

We have submitted two contributions to the party’s current reviews: one on governance and the main one on Agenda 2020, where we are calling for:

  • the role of a fair electoral system in empowering the individual and ensuring all votes count equally;
  • a Constitutional Convention to explore the shortcomings of the current system; what sort of democracy people want; and what is the best new system to deliver that improved democracy
  • continue to press for local government reform in England and Wales
  • advocate an elected (ideally fully elected, but at least majority elected) House of Lords, to replace the current over-large appointed house. Learning from last time, a reform package would need to define the role of a renewed Lords in relation to the Commons.

We’ll continue the dialogue with the party leadership to get our policies properly prioritized.

We are also evaluating approaches to, with a view to collaborating with, other pro-reform parties.

Enfranchising 16 year-olds – we tried

Congratulations to our peers, who were instrumental in defeating the Government in a vote which was set to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the upcoming EU referendum.  We usually think of electoral reform in terms of voting systems, but further democratizing the franchise is also a crucial progressive steps. The decision was of course ultimately overturned in the Commons but at least the argument has been made and the issue discussed. Next time…

Over in Canada

The Liberals’ stunning October victory in Canada has ushered in new hope for electoral reform. A manifesto commitment is to set up an all-party committee to make legislative recommendations within 18 months on the conduct of elections. Premier Trudeau is known to back ‘ranked ballots’ (preferential/STV voting to us). Needless to say, sceptics are now questioning whether reform will happen… watch this space.

Want to help support what we do? Click here to join us today.

Newsletter: A Fightback for Freedom and Democracy

Barely two weeks on from the dreadful Election results, four things are clear for our electoral reform movement:

  1. With a majority Tory Government, decisive moves on electoral reform are virtually certain to take place after 2020 at the earliest.
  2. There are now more parties than only us stinging from the results of our anti-democratic system (welcome all – we know how you feel!). A variety of different voices are now calling for change . Also, by its polarising over-exaggeration of support for SNP in Scotland and the Tories in England, first-past-the-post is putting artificial but tangible strain on the union.
  3. From Nick’s resignation speech on, there has been an uprise in support for liberalism – our 11,000 new members for instance. We know that individual and civic freedom lies at the heart of liberalism; and that electoral reform, in increasing the choice and voice of the voter, is core to enhancing that freedom. The principled argument is ours to make.
  4. Continuing devolution and constitutional change mean opportunity for electoral change, After all, despite the ongoing blind support for FPTP, no-one in living memory has been stupid enough to inflict it on any of our new assemblies and parliaments.

So surprisingly perhaps, only one of those four factors is a negative.

LDER is renewing the power of its message within and outside the party in the coming months, leading to the Bournemouth Conference. We will maintain our push for local government and Lords reform; and make the case for replacing the undemocratic FPTP.

Here’s what you can do —

  • JOIN us — if you are not already an LDER member
  • send this mail to your friends within the party; encourage them to join us
  • do you know any of our 11,000 new members? Some of them will have our cause as priority; get them aware and joining up too.
  • Lobby Tim’s and Norman’s campaigns to ensure our new leader knows the importance of electoral reform to our party and its core stance
  • Send us any ideas you have about other steps to take.

Keith Sharp

Chair – Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform