LCER Briefing Beginning of July 2018
Did you think when debated in the Houses of Parliament that MPs are not the only people who need a meaningful vote. For too many that is exactly what we don’t get from our voting system, first past the post.
So far, as we head into the month of July, and the Parliamentary Recess on 24 July returning in September before the Conference Season starting with the TUC 9-12 September in Manchester, Labour Women’s Conference on Saturday 22 September and the rest of Conference from Sunday to Wednesday, 23- 26 September, Meantime LCER has been out and about discussing the possibility of Labour changing its default position on electoral reform. We need to hear from you if you are attending any of these events or could attend if helping with a stall we might have there or any of the events below.
The Guardian letters has been carrying letters from David Lipsey (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/25/a-democracy-to-reflect-the-will-of-the-people)
and Sarah Hudspeth (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/28/the-most-stable-successful-nations-in-the-world-have-pr-so-why-cant-we) in response to Darren Hughes letter (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/19/rank-disrespect-for-our-democracy) following the Electoral Reform Society research on the House of Lords https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/18/house-of-lords-fails-to-represent-much-of-uk-electoral-reform-society-says. Labour electoral reformers have long supported PR for an elected replacement upper House, Senate, but opinions differ on what comes first, change for the Commons, change for the Lords. LCER believes that we need to concentrate on the voting system we use to elect MPs, not that votes @ 16, devolution for England, stopping ridiculous elections for redundant House of Lords replacements, a constitutional convention and even a constitution are unimportant. But the totemic vote demanded by the Chartists and awarded to all men over 21 and women over 30 one century ago is where the Labour Party needs to lift its pro status quo policy and negotiate change. But see LCER Trade Union Officer’s response to John McDonnell MP: https://labourlist.org/2018/05/billy-hayes-why-i-agree-but-disagree-with-john-mcdonnell-about-electoral-reform/.
The Government has designated this coming week, 2 – 8 July, as National Democracy Week see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-democracy-week-2018. Of course it is a century since women of 30 and working class men with no property qualification got the vote so this is their reason. But Democracy and the Conservatives hardly go together like a horse and carriage. Their 2017 Manifesto was full of preventing or reverting to the past, no votes at 16, eliminate elements of PR brought in by Labour, reducing the number of constituencies to 600 based not on population but on registered voters. Democracy is too important to leave to the Conservatives.
Today, Saturday 30 June, has been designated, by Make Votes Matter as Demand Democracy Day. If you want PR, do something about it. For more information about local events where you can help, please contact a local group or Make Votes Matter - firstname.lastname@example.org - who can put you in touch with your nearest local group. As well as or instead of helping with a local event, perhaps you could write about PR to your local newspaper, preferably in time for publication this week. 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.
During this Democracy Week, 2 – 6 July, UNITE THE UNION will be meeting in Brighton for its fifth biennial Policy Conference see details at http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/events/fifth-unite-policy-conference-2018/. If you are going as a delegate or visitor or could work with LCER and MVM in Brighton please let us know on emailLCER@gmail.com or Joe@makevotesmatter.org.uk.
Tuesday 3 July, Make Votes Matter are organising a private meeting, A Parliament that Works for Wales, from 10-11 am in The Welsh Rooms C&D, first floor, Ty Hywel at the Senedd in Cardiff. Speakers include Julie Morgan, Assembly Member, Welsh Labour – hosting, Joe Sousek, Co-Founder and Facilitator of Make Votes Matter, Alun Davies AM, Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services and Mary Southcott, Parliamentary and Political Officer of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform. The question being asked is “Is Proportional Representation the most important reform for better democracy and greater equality in Wales?”
Chartist magazine is holding its AGM on Saturday 7 July. Electoral reform has been covered in several of the Chartist editions this year. This year they are discussing Can Labour find winning ways? at Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street, London E1 (Nearest tube Aldgate East), Registration at 10.45, 11.00 Brexit, Labour and the alternative with Marina Prentoulis (Senior Lecturer UEA), Catherine West MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, Alena Ivanova (Another Europe is Possible) Mary Southcott has written an article linking first past the post with the EU Referendum decision. 12.45 The Independent Labour Party – lessons for today (did they support PR?) with Ian Bullock author of Under seigh The Interwar ILP. After NeoLiberalism: Making corporate capital accountable. with Bryn Jones (Coeditor Alternatives to Neo-Liberalism-Towards Equality & Democracy)and Prem Sikka (Sheffield university & adviser to Shadow Chancellor), Developing Labour’s alternative & Momentum’s role with Becky Boumelha and Apsana Begum (both Momentum National Coordinating Group) and Duncan Bowie (Author Radical Solutions to the Housing Supply Crisis & Chartist EB) followed from 4 – 5 pm by the Chartist AGM. LCER hopes to produce a pamphlet or supplement with articles that have appeared in Chartist for Labour conference.
People, Pits and Politics Festival 12 and 13 July
The Durham Miners’ Gala has been running since 1871 and is the largest Labour Movement event in Western Europe. This year there is also an independent fringe conference in Durham Town Hall to build a legacy that extends beyond the Gala itself. The organisers say we have to remember the past, and the men and the women and the struggles that won us the rights we have today. But even more importantly, we have to build for the future. The austerity and political climate we face is blighting the lives of millions in our communities, and we have to be organised if we’re going to change it. So they are bringing together community organisers, political trainers and alternative media to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. You can book your tickets here: https://pppfestival.com/buy-tickets/?utm_source=Pepperista&utm_campaign=e0c2d69528-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_26_12_11&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2d5c5bf744-e0c2d69528-67207709.
On Thursday 12 July at 4 pm there will be 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. Many of those attending will be Labour electoral reformers.
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 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 have been recent successful meetings in as far apart as Bristol, Hornchurch, Lewisham, Oxford, Rotherham, Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Southampton & Romney, Tooting and Witney. There will probably be more events and talks which with your help we will provide speakers for to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to join this debate which Labour needs to have. 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.
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.
Mary Southcott 0117 924 5139
John Doolan 07584 934 552