Trade Union Conference in Brighton
Norway holds its general election tomorrow, Monday 11 September, to vote for its 169 representatives. They use a party list system of proportional representation in 19 multi-member constituencies, which are the Norwegian counties.
On the first day of Labour's Annual Conference, Sunday 24 September, Germany holds its general elections. They use a system we, the Allies, gave them after WW11, the Additional Member System. This is the same system chosen by the New Zealand electorate in two referendums in the 19902, and reconfirmed in their 2011 referendum, although they call it Mixed Member Proportional. It is the one we use in Scotland, in Wales and in Greater London.
At home, the trade unions are holding their conference in Brighton. They had a report, Getting it in Proportion.
but most of the trade unions do not have policy, or a recent consultation or discussion, on electoral reform.
Since trade unions founded the Labour Party, when early Labour and trade unionists called for the voting system to change to allow them a voice, we have had changes. All men and women over 30 were enfranchised in 1918. Women waited another ten years before getting parity. Then 18 year olds were given the vote in 1968 and now we are calling for Votes@16. The 1997 government brought in new voting systems, all proportional modelled on the German system, for Scotland, Wales and Greater London. They also brought in a closed list of PR, rather than a more popular open list, for the European Parliament almost designed to discourage electoral reform.
We hear that the planned reduction in MPs from 650 to 600 will be cancelled although boundary revision still needs to take place under first past the post putting a lie to the continuity of the MP - constituency link. Any boundary change will now take place using the equality of the registered vote in each constituency when we know that the demographics of registration mean Labour leaning groups, the young, the mobile, those living in privately rented accommodation, and those whose command of written English restricts their use of forms in both members of ethnic minority communities and others. So the registration drive needs to continue - a Forth bridge exercise.
Now the time has come for Labour to change its policy on our nineteenth century voting system. It needs constituencies and branches to have discussion but most of all it needs to have the discussion in the trade union.
Trade union members are often members of the Labour Party but more important the affiliated trade unions play a vital role in policy and Manifesto formation as members of the National Policy Forum, Labour's National Executive and Annual Conference. If Labour is to change its mind it needs to involve people in the Party and Trade Union Movement in discussion in their meetings from now and particularly in 2018.
So LCER goes to the Trade Union Conference in Brighton on Tuesday. It is inside the Brighton Centre as it is aimed at union delegates. If you are attending TUC 2017 or active in your own union back home please note the details.
The Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform
invites you to their
TRADE UNION CONGRESS 2017 FRINGE
A Vote for Change
Tuesday, 12 September, at 12.45 pm
In Syndicate Room 3, 1360, Brighton Centre
Clive Lewis MP Norwich South & LCER Vice Chair
Howard Beckett, Assistant General Secretary UNITE (in a personal capacity)
Nancy Platts, Former Trade Union Manager for Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party
Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party
Sam Tarry, Transport & Salaried Staff Association
Mary Southcott, LCER Parliamentary and Political Officer
Klina Jordon, Co Founder, Make Votes Matter
Chair: Billy Hayes former General Secretary Communications Workers Union
We look forward to hearing from anyone going to Labour's Conference or the Women's Conference on 23 September and to meet up there. We have two events, more details later, and a stall where we can meet.
Email us emailLCER@gmail.com or leave a message on 0117 924 5139 or text 077 125 11931
We are going to make this change, but only with your help, insight and knowledge of your own area.