Update since the May elections 2018
This time last year we were all digesting the General Election results. Labour had won the highest vote for years, since 1997, and before that, more than 1945, fewer than 1950 when we won the popular vote and won and 1951 when won the popular won and lost, more than every general election, since except 1966 and 1997.
People talked about a return to two party politics. That was not what the levels of tactical voting indicated. We know the popular vote, under first past the post, does not determine the distribution of seats, so Labour lost. Under PR it might have been a Labour led Government because most parties would have partners with Labour, and only one which the Conservatives ended up would partner them, the Democratic Unionists. Hence the confidence and supply arrangement.
What we won were 47 new Labour MPs, and we were up by 30 seats. We lost six former Labour seats, five MPs, and some Labour MPs were replaced by new candidates. On twitter, follow us on @Labour4PR, almost half of the Class of ’17, were already signed up to PR during the General Election. LCER is still looking for positions taken by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party. So if you know the position of your Labour MP and as they are selected our adopted Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) especially in our targets seats, let us know on EmailLCER@gmail.com.
We already know about Swindon South, Sarah Church; Filton & Bradley Stoke, Mhairi Threlfell; Southampton Itchen, Simon Letts; Milton Keynes South, Hannah O’Neill; Hastings & Rye, Peter Chowney; Rochford & Southend East, Ashley Dalton; some are in key marginals and will we feel sure they will find their support of electoral reform helps them to reach out to new and third party voters as well as of course Labour voters. Good luck to them and hope for more information on the rest.
Local elections on Thursday 3 May seem a long time ago. One highlight was the election of LCER supporting Damien Egan as Mayor of Lewisham. Damien took over from Steve Bullock who used to be LCER Treasurer. If you know about Trafford and Plymouth, tell us your story. We have tried to update our database of Councillor delegates, let us know if you won or not and how the locals were for you. We know that in Wandsworth a few more votes would have delivered the borough council to Labour and we marginally won more votes across the Borough than the Conservatives.
During election coverage, John McDonnell who was on our joint Make Votes Matter/LCER fringe rally platform in 2016 in Liverpool, said something about trying out PR for the Lords elections first. Our LCER Trade Union Officer Billy Hayes has responded to John McDonnell, see https://labourlist.org/2018/05/billy-hayes-why-i-agree-but-disagree-with-john-mcdonnell-about-electoral-reform/which is also on our LCER Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pg/LC4ER/posts/?ref=page_internal.
We need to remember all the work done on electoral reform by Baroness Tessa Jowell who died on 12 May. She was one of the candidates for the 1992 elections, Hugh Bayley, Richard Burden, Anne Campbell, Malcolm Chisholm, John Denham, Jim Dowd, Lynne Jones, Jon Owen Jones, Rachel Squire and Tony Wright who went on to become leading lights of LCER, speaking at fringes, AGMs and of their support when interviewed. Tessa played a big roll in the 2011 AV referendum having sponsored LCER from the time she was in parliament in 1992. She travelled to Blackpool having returned from South Africa to speak at the Transport & General Workers Union fringe meeting in Blackpool with Jack Dromey at our LCER fringe. She was quoted in our leaflets. Her ability to work with people even where their politics differed was commented on by many people after she died. She practised what she preached in terms of the new politics.
Also another Peer died on 1 May. He was Lord Peter Temple-Morris. At a time, as now, when cross party groups are looking for Conservatives who support electoral reform, Peter Temple-Morris left the Conservatives and joined Labour and sponsored LCER. In 1997 it was Damien Green who was the only Conservative elected for the first time that year. But it is a lonely place to be in that party committed as it is to removing elements of PR wherever they see them, except Scotland and Wales, where PR helped keep them alive. And the MP for Bath, elected in 2015, Ben Howlett, lost in 2017. And so the search goes on.
Of the three new Labour Peers, Iain McNicol, former Labour General Secretary, Pauline Bryan, writer based in Scotland and campaigner Martha Osamor, mother of Kate, Edmonton MP, only Iain has ever been on an electoral reform platform which he did when with the GMB Union in support of Hope Not Hate, with Billy Bragg and Emily Georghiou. However Pauline wrote an interesting article supporting the offer of a Constitutional Convention in Labour’s 2017 Manifesto, https://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c3f5-constitutional-change-is-in-the-air-so-lets-put-democratic-federalism-on-the-agenda-1. Ken Livingstone who resigned from the Labour Party on 21 May rather than let the row on Anti-Semitism continue until his eventual expulsion from the Party, was during his time as Mayor of London, in the GLC as well as the GLA, and as Brent MP, in favour of Electoral Reform.
Compass are looking back to last year when the Progressive Alliance claimed many of the successes in marginal constituencies. LCER put more emphasis on supporting Labour electoral reformers but there was much overlap where the Green Party particularly withdrew candidates in favour of Labour candidates against incumbent Conservatives. If you want to know more, or judge for yourself, you should read Barry Langford’s book, All Together Now, see https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/all-together-now.
LCER is looking to suggest a contemporary resolution linked to boundary changes which might be brought to Parliament in September, reductions to 600 MPs and equalisation of registered voters, now that the Conservatives have given the DUP what they wanted for boundaries in Northern Ireland. MVM has an overtly pro PR model resolution, but LCER is thinking we need rather to talk about voter suppression, the boundaries, the Voter ID, the need for registration, and of course a voting system which encourages voting only in marginal seats. Contact with email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ellie Reeves MP, the only MP in the new intake to come out for First Past the Post before her election last year introduce a much needed debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday, 6 June, see: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-06-06/debates/10F26E8E-D4D1-4CDB-972A-EC902044F8EF/VoterIDPilotSchemes.
Also we are hoping to have cards for speakers and others which have the arguments tackling the most popular criticism of PR and electoral reform, Coalition, Extremism, Difficulty in understanding, Unlikely to achieve a socialist transformation of society. Are there others? Send your ideas to Billy Hayes, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events coming up which you may be attending or where you could help electoral reform
Saturday 9 – Monday 11 June: The Transport and Salaried Staff Association, TSSA, is holding its Conference this weekend from 9-11 June at the Holiday Inn Leicester. LCER remembers working with the then TSSA leader, now Lord and Sam Tarry was on the LCER platform at the TUC last September. If you can help for a day or half a day contact Joe Sousek, at email@example.com or text or phone his mobile on 07402965566.
On Thursday, 14 June there is the Lewisham East byelection to replace Labour MP Heidi Alexander was an electoral reformer who leaves to work for London Mayor the byelection is Thursday 14 June. The Labour candidate is Janet Daby. if you go to help and bump into her ask her views.
On the evening, Thursday, 14 June the Oxford & District Labour Party is holding their meeting at the Abingdon United Football Club, Northcourt Road, Abingdon OX14 1PL at 7.15 for a prompt start at 7.30 pm.
LCER’s Mary Southcott will facilitate a discussion and welcomes questions and view on Labour's Road to Electoral Reform - how close are we today? with guest speaker Mary Southcott. They have a resolution to be decided after the discussion on electoral reform from North & St Margaret’s branch, here:
“This meeting believes that our archaic electoral system is antidemocratic and not fit for purpose. We need a properly representative and transparent electoral system where no vote is wasted. We need to change to a form of proportional representation for national elections. This should be one which allows MPs to keep their local constituency link. The voting age should be lowered to 16. Voting at weekends and the possibility of electronic voting should be investigated.
“This meeting calls upon the Labour Party to reject First Past the Post, the current voting system for General Elections, and to launch a consultation to choose a new voting system in which seats will broadly reflect the votes cast.
“This meeting also calls on the Labour Party to include proposals for reform in the Party's manifesto for the next general election, with the declared intent that the new electoral changes will be put in place for the following general election.”
Mary is hoping to meet Owen Winter of Make Votes Matter and our LCER Youth Officer and some others who have supported electoral reform in Oxford before the actual meeting in Abingdon. Let Mary know on firstname.lastname@example.org or text 077 125 11931 if you live in Oxford you are around during the day in Oxford.
On Sunday 17 June, Clifton and Bristol West Labour invite everyone to their Goldney Gardens annual event from 2 to 5.30 pm. LCER/Make Votes Matter will be having a stand with a instant raffle – if you draw the right ticket you claim the prize. Donate a prize, as small as you like, come along and say hello or even help on the stall, contact email@example.com and text 077 125 11931.
Women’s influence on electoral reform: Mary Honeyball MEP has agreed to organise a meeting in London where Labour women can discuss the need to bring more women into the discussion on electoral reform and perhaps find other arguments which resonate with women. We hope to submit something on electoral reform to women’s conference celebrating the 100 years of the beginning of women’s franchaise, and perhaps the need to go further than one woman, one vote but one woman, one vote, one value and the change of political culture a different voting system may bring in its wake. For women’s forum discussions, submissions, ideas and for the details of Mary Honeyball’s meeting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 077 125 11931. Submission to the National Policy Forum and the Women’s Conference need to be in this month.
On Saturday 30 June Make Votes Matter is holding their Demand Democracy Day ahead of the first week in July which the Conservatives have designated National Democracy Week. Without a trace of irony, they completely leave out all the things Labour has been supporting and definitely against proportional representation. Make Votes Matter will be hitting the streets across the country to talk to the public, call out the government's "celebration", sign people up to our petition, and demand that our politicians support fair votes. Find out more: https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/news/demand-democracy-day.
Unite the Union is hold their conference 2-6 July at the Brighton Conference Centre. If you are going or could help out at our Make Votes Matter/LCER stall contact Joe@makevotesmatter.org.uk or mobile.
Chartist magazine is holding its AGM on Saturday 7 July. Electoral reform has been covered in several of the Chartists editions this year.
On 10 July we are hoping to continue the filming which Tony Price has been doing. We have been filming Labour MPs – so far we have captured the following Paul Blomfield, Richard Burden, David Drew, Margaret Hodge, Sandy Martin, Jonathan Reynolds and Daniel Zeichner, but we are looking to interview more MPs particularly women and to able to demonstrate that reform is not a left-right issue with people from all parts of the party and the country supporting.
Durham Miners’ Gala is on 14 July in Durham! There is a major political rally before the Miners’ Gala with 1,000 activists attending, called the People, Pits and Politics Festival in Durham see https://pppfestival.com/ with on Thursday at 4 pm a session on PR with Clive Lewis MP and Mary Southcott, LCER. Benj Eckland, fresh from his near victory at a Labour council byelection, is our LCER regional representative and needs volunteers to help him over this time, contact him direct at email@example.com or mobile 07403375947.
On Saturday 21 July, from 2 – 4 pm in Birmingham Make Votes Matter and Unlock Democracy are cooperating on their Fair Votes Festival. #FairVotesFestival brings together people and politicians from across the political spectrum to help create a democracy fit for the 21st Century and a Parliament elected by Proportional Representation. Find out come: https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/local-meetings/2018/7/21/fair-votes-festival.
On the Sunday 22 July and probably for the whole event, LCER will be with Make Votes Matter having a stall at the Tolpuddle festival. If you are going let us know on EmailLCER@gmail.com.
. There will probably be more events and talks which with you help we will provide speakers for in your constituencies, branches, women’s forum
If you know of other events in your area or region let us know. We intend to be at TUC 9-12 September in Manchester, Women’s Conference on 22 September in Liverpool, Annual Conference also in Liverpool 23 – 26 September, Cooperative Party Conference in Bristol on 12-14 October, and Labour North West Conference on 3-4 November. If you are going or could help let us know at EmailLCER@gmail.com.
We need more discussion around the Party, in your constituency, branch, women’s forum, trade union and socialist society. Contact us if you want to be a speaker or invite one to your meeting.