Article: Oct 16, 2021By Sarah Lewis
As Liberal Democrats, electoral reform is in our DNA. That's why we welcome the ongoing efforts of our ally organisations such as the Electoral Reform Society, Make Votes Matter, and Unlock Democracy. After all, we know that we cannot bring about the change we want to see by acting alone.
As Lib Dem members our involvement in cross-party campaign efforts is all to the good. I encourage any who are not yet active in these groups to sign up today! But I believe that we also need to campaign for electoral reform as Liberal Democrats. Why?
Article: Mar 10, 2021By Andrew Hyett
Wendy Chamberlain MP becomes LDER President
We are excited to announce that Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform has a new President - Wendy Chamberlain, our MP for North East Fife.
Since entering Parliament in 2019, Wendy has made her mark as an articulate, vivid advocate of electoral reform. Through most of 2020, as our Political and Constitutional Reform front bench spokesperson, she led the campaign both inside and outside Parliament. Last June, she initiated an adjournment debate on the need for reform; and in August she urged party members to join a Make Votes Matter (MVM) nationwide 'virtual' Action Day, which saw hundreds of Liberal Democrats get involved.
A strong believer in linking reform to improving peoples' everyday lives, also last June, Wendy spoke alongside Klina Jordan of MVM at a Green Liberal Democrats' conference session on Electoral Reform and the Environment. In September, she led our virtual fringe meeting, along with the Electoral Reform Society, Make Votes Matter and Unite to Reform.
Now our Parliamentary Chief Whip and Work and Pensions spokesperson, Wendy has maintained her commitment to our cause. In February, she became a Vice Chair of the newly-formed All Party Parliamentary Group on Electoral Reform. (Alistair Carmichael, Wera Hobhouse and Lord Paul Tyler are also APPG members). Wendy is also a member of the APPG on Deliberative Democracy.
Wendy said: 'In an era of increasing identity politics, place has increasing importance to many. With Covid-19, however, the straining of centralised decision making at Westminster, and better recognition of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, could mean electoral reform's time has come. It's increasingly clear that the fundamental change required to ensure the future of the UK and a representative democracy starts with electoral reform.'
Wendy has already agreed to host a virtual meeting on Zoom for all LDER members and supporters, setting our the goals as she sees them and of course taking questions and comments. We'll be in touch again shortly with details.
Make Votes Matter 'Lobby Your MP' Action Day - March 12; makevotesmatter.org.uk/lobby
You can also attend a pre-lobby briefing session with Wendy Chamberlain on March 11: click here for more.
LDER Fringe - March 21; 13.00- 14.15 with Alistair Carmichael; libdems.org.uk/conference
Article: Sep 11, 2020By Andrew Hyett
They argue that this will:
- Give voters more choice
- Maintain clear links between Members and constituencies
- Produce more proportional electoral outcomes.
Article: Mar 5, 2020By Andrew Hyett
At an Islington Liberal Democrats Proportional Representation event in February 2020, Keith Sharp gave a (slightly personalised) account of the liberal fight for equal, proportional voting: the wins, the losses, the lessons and the current opportunities.
Origins and Beliefs
Electoral reform has deep, principled roots for Liberal Democrats.
The Reform Act of 1918 greatly extended the voting franchise (men over 21 were given the vote and women, albeit from age 30, had the vote for the first time). But it also saw the already-existing first-past-the-post (FPTP) narrowly defeat proportional representation (PR) / single transferable vote (STV) as the chosen UK electoral system.
The Liberal Party's response was swift. Electoral reform (STV) featured in its 1922 election manifesto and has ever since (as the Liberal Democrats since 1988) remained firm, if not always prominent, party policy.
We talk today of the need for party proportionality - percentages of seats at Westminster should match percentages of overall votes the parties receive. And that's right. Yet, while party proportionality is a vitally important result of a voter centric system, it is not the sole guiding value.
In a liberal society, power and agency reside primarily with the individual; and with the individual in her/his social context (such as family, neighbourhood, locality or community.) The job of the electoral system is to deliver demo-cracy (demos = people), not state-ocracy or even political party-ocracy. Party proportionality is a welcome result of a voting system which reflects the voters' preferences.
Of course - a point often made - electoral reform alone isn't a sufficient cure-all for our democratic deficit. Other important proposals include a written constitution, coherent devolution, votes at 16, a defined role for deliberative democracy, proper rules for holding any future referendums, Lords, local government.
But what can be more critical, in a functioning democracy, than the core relationship between electors and their elected representatives - defined by the way in which we elect and hold them accountable and the complexion of the resulting Parliament (or Council or Assembly)?