Briefing for LCER post conference pre AGM
Thanks you to all those who worked on our LCER/MVM stall at conference, who delivered leaflets, who attended the MVM speakers training, who raised the issue of electoral reform at the Justice and Home Affairs (including the Shadow Cabinet Office), who signed up to keep in contact with the campaign and particularly for those who spoke at our rally fringe on the Tuesday night, chaired by Stephen Twigg MP, Paul Blomfield MP, Elly Curran, LCER Speaker, Neal Lawson, Compass, Nancy Platts (Politics for the Many), Jonathan Reynolds MP, Mary Southcott, LCER and Chris Williamson MP. You are the reason we are so confident that the Labour Party membership has changed its mind on electoral reform.
LCER Executive Application by Saturday 13 October
You are reminded here that we are keen to hear from both longstanding and potential new members of the Executive of LCER. You need to have your application in by Saturday 13 October end of play to EmailLCER@gmail.com. You need to be both a member of the Labour Party and of LCER on 1 November. Please provide one hundred words of mini biog and/or your best argument(s) for electoral reform, your name, your constituency and confirmation of LCER/Labour membership. The ballot paper will be sent out to LCER members who are paid up or have standing orders by 1 November 2018. For those with access to the internet updating is easy on our website. For those who do not know whether they have a standing order or have paid in the last year, contact EmailLCER@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The results will be announced at our AGM on 19 November.
Strength of Support shown by Contemporary Motions at Conference
As we said there were six resolutions on the subject of electoral reform, three calling for consultation of Labour members from Houghton & Sunderland South, Chichester and Eastleigh, and three linked to the recent Boundary Commission Report, Battersea, Eastleigh and Gosport. These were not debated a failed the contemporary motion category and in any case would not have been prioritised in the ballot. The Commission which deals with electoral reform met early, 8.15 on Monday morning. Despite the early hour, many of those attending raised the issue despite the response from Jon Trickett’s deputy, Chester MP, Chris Matheson, that despite the number of submissions to the Commission, the only policy statement was that Labour will hold a Constitutional Convention, Labour’s 2017 offer.
And Reference Back
Brave Hastings & Rye delegate, Liam Crowter, mandated by his constituency to support any composited/contemporary motions for a more proportional voting system, moved reference back to the Report from the Justice and Home Affairs Commission (including the Shadow Cabinet Office remit for constitutional reform) to stop the matter being kicked into the long grass. The document ignored the topic despite acknowledging how many submissions they had received. His first reference back was ruled out of order by the Chair, under instructions from Greg Cook, Labour’s psephologist, because page 117 had already been referenced back on the section on Voter ID. Liam was asked to clarify which sections of the Report he was referring back which he did, Pages 101, 102, 104, 117 and 118. Liam believes that we should highlight the feelings of those in favour since there was a good show of hands from the CLPs. Most of the trade unions have yet to discuss the issue and therefore their default position is the status quo, first past the post. So Reference back was voted down. But well done, Liam!
Work this coming year
LCER were pleased that Voter Identification section was referred back for further consideration. But there is more work this coming year for the constituencies who haven’t had a discussion on electoral reform, please book a speaker. For those who have and/or submitted resolutions will need to resubmit in a different way. The Commission say that they cannot consult Labour’s membership is that the NPF has not instructed them to do so. So next step needs to involve talking with our NPF representatives and people on the Commission. To hold a constitutional convention without saying that this is the place to decide the voting system – fair point – first does not move Labour on from last General Election when LCER emphasised that the Convention would be the way of changing the voting system. This is not good enough when Labour is still wedded to first past the post from the 19th century with all the many reasons for rejecting it, rehearsed in our document The Many Not the Few, on our website, www.lcer.org.uk.
Your trade union membership
It would be useful if you could tell us if you are an active member of your trade union/branch and if so which – it is helpful to know GMB, UNISON, UNITE, USDAW but also ones we think are affiliated but in favour in the past, ASLEF, MU, NUM and TSSA. Also unaffiliated trade unions can play a role through the TUC so particularly if you are in PCS, FBU, RMT, NEU and UCU there are places to push for reform. Not all trade unionists are Labour but it is unlikely that trade union members are any more unlikely to support electoral reform than those who are more active in constituencies.
Referendums not referenda
By the way, the Commission document is also stuck in the past where it uses the plural referenda which is not correct according to the UK psephologist, David Butler, and confirmed by the late Robin Cook at a LCER AGM when he announced: “We have policy on electoral reform. It is referendums, not referenda.” For those who think they know Latin, referendum is a verb used as a noun not a neuter noun which would take the ending –a when make plural, example bellum, bella, war and wars. So when used in English takes the English plural by adding an s – let’s get it right please in Labour’s documents, it is referendums not referenda. Not that we want any more referendums preferably.
Fringes report back
Politics for the Many was the Electoral Reform Society supported fringe who had Jon Trickett MP, our Shadow Cabinet Minister who has in the past been negative about reform. Nancy Platts, however, leading the new campaign in the trade unions, Politics for the Many, spoke to the need to have PR for Westminster in the mix of votes at 16, House of Lords reform. A speakers’ training was held on Monday lunch time at the same time as an Unlock Democracy fringe which we leafleted and starred Lisa Nandy MP. Our Tuesday evening fringe, suffered from two things, not being able to rival Brexit as the main constitutional issue, and the late running of Conference. However the sixty or so people heard agreement from across the Labour spectrum from Jonathan Reynolds, Neal Lawson and Chris Williamson. The audience asked questions. Which the further speakers responded to, Paul Blomfield, LCER Chair, Elly Curran, Nancy Platts, convenor of the Politics of the Many, and Mary Southcott.
Speaker’s Cards for electoral reform
LCER piloted its new speaker’s card, myths which are raised at meetings and rebuttals, which will be available in printed version soon. If you need them earlier we can put them up on the website or send them to you by email.
Work ahead in 2018-9
We need to know the positions of all Labour MPs and candidates for the next General Election whatever the seat. We also need to know the positions or conversion of the NEC and members of the National Policy Forum and the Commission for Justice and Home Affairs which includes the Shadow Cabinet Office led by Jon Tricket and Chris Mathieson (Chester MP). We need to do some work to find the positions of Mayors, Leaders and Councillors and individual members of Trade Unions whom we can work with. We will try and get a debate to cover all constituencies where they have yet to have a debate especially where the MP opposes activity and in target constituencies.
This year we also need to know whether you are attending your regional or national conference, this year, 2018-2019, especially we are going to regions we didn’t do last year, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands and see below the South East.
9 October: Parliamentary Recess ends
13-14 October: Cooperative Conference in Bristol – are you going?
17 October: PR Alliance (invites only)
23 October: Politics for the Many Steering Group (invites only)
1 November: Unlock Democracy Merseyside event, It’s Time for Labour to support Electoral Reform to Make Votes Count, with Stephen Twigg MP and Alex Runwick, Unlock Democracy. 7 pm at the Friends Meeting House, Liverpool. Please contact John Volleamere on email@example.com,
3 - 4 November: Regional Conference in the South East in Southampton
3 - 4 November: Regional Conference in the North West – we have already invited Julie Ward MEP, Billy Hayes and Mary Southcott but others are checking their diaries.
19 November AGM of LCER
1 December ERS AGM
11 December the People’s Lobby for Proportional Representation 1 pm; Democracy Awards 5-6 pm sign up to attend at www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/lobby
Tell of events in your patch or if you are attending any of the above events. We look forward to working with you for the change we need for the democracy that makes people count.
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