Although the Houses of Parliament have gone into Recess, to return on 4 September, there are many things which Labour electoral reformers can do during the summer, so do contact us if you have ideas or want to be involved.
Myth Busting – name your top five arguments against and in favour
We are putting together some speakers’ cards with the main arguments we have encountered so we can counter them. Issues such as coalitions, extremism come up time and time again but it would help us if you nominated your top five issues that status quo supporters say to you. And if you like nominate your top five arguments in favour. That will allow us to be positive as well as rebutting the negative. When asked at Tolpuddle about the situation in Austrian and whether extremism was because of their PR voting system, a helpful Austrian woman said “no it’s the voters”. Please let Billy Hayes and Mary Southcott know on emailLCER@gmail.com
Trade Unions – are you active in your union?
We are working with the new organisation, the Politics of the Many: Trade Unionists for Political Reform, set up the Electoral Reform Society specifically to work with trade unionists, following our LCER fringe at the TUC Congress 2017 organised by Billy Hayes, our LCER Trade Union Officer. We hope to join them for the TUC Congress in Manchester. If you haven’t come across them yet you can find them on their website https://politicsforthemany.co.uk/. They have opted on the softer issues, perhaps, of Lords Reform, Votes at 16, Devolution and Representation of Women and other under represented groups but voting reform for Westminster is still in the mix. They will be in Manchester. Let us know if you are a member of a trade union, not only but specifically affiliated trade unions and whether you are going to the TUC or next year’s round of trade union conferences. We need to work specifically on Unite the Union and UNISON, although Labour members are also members of other affiliated trade unions, some who are in favour, TSSA, ASLEF, or unaffiliated like PCS who have been a pioneering union on this issue.
You will have received your ballot for the Constituency Section of the NEC. This is our opportunity to write to the candidates and ask them their views on voting reform. We know the position of Independent Candidate, Ann Black who has worked with us from before she was on the NEC. Also Luke Akehurst.
Voting reforms is not a left-right issue and we straddle the party spectrum from the Leaders’ office to the new members in your local branch. Despite the slate they are on, or not, voting reform benefits from having individual voices on the NEC which can articulate the need for the Party to consult and come to some conclusion about what to say in its manifesto. Make Votes Matter is going for the Full Monty, Proportional Representation, whereas LCER would love that but would advocate that it would be wise for Labour and the trade unions to change their default position, first past the post, to be open to discuss electoral reform and make it a priority issue for any constitutional convention. So before you vote ask the position of your NEC candidates and let us know on email@example.com. You have until Thursday 30 August 2018 at 12:00 noon.
Labour’s Prospective Party Candidates
Most of the Labour candidates for the next general election, whenever that occurs, are chosen in our target seats. We hope that the class of 2017 MPs, especially those supporting electoral reform will benefit from the incumbency bounce (being an MPs candidate for the first time) so we need to look to helping other candidates who support electoral reform. Faiza Shaheen has just been elections to fight Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford & Woodford Green, congratulations. Some candidates who fought the snap election in 2017 but narrowly lost are restanding – those favouring electoral reform include Sarah Church, Swindon South, Southampton Itchen’s Simon Letts. If you know others let us know with their contact details, or get a quote from them indicating why they support. Also we are still looking for positions of MPs, Class of 2015 and 2017, MEPs, MSP, Assembly Members (Wales and London), Mayors, Council leaders and councillors and trade union officers. It goes on one at a time so if you have information of any of the above, just let us know, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Money and Votes
You can bribe some of the people all the time, and swing voters all the time (if you have the money) but you cannot bribe all the people all the time. The targeting has become so exact and most of us do now know the messages going to the few people who decide a first past the post election. So shouldn’t we change to a voting system that makes all votes count, or makes it much more difficult to decide who decides elections, so we are all bribed or persuaded. George Monbiot who shared a platform with Make Votes Matter and LCER in Brighton last year has written a warning about article in the Guardian, and Tom Baldwin’s Book Ctrl Alt Del: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy. See also the leaked Media committee report here
Northern Ireland democracy?
Since most of the voters in Northern Ireland voted Remain and the devolved assembly hasn’t met for over a year and a half, the DUP is propping up the Conservative Government and their Brexit Policy, isn’t it time for Sinn Fein MPs to cross their fingers behind their backs and vote in the UK Parliament to represent the views throughout the island of Ireland on Brexit and stop it before it starts on 29 March. Any other voting system would not have polarised the representation of NI into DUP or Sinn Fein but allowed some representation for the SDLP, Ulster Unionists and the Alliance. There would be no weak and stable confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives as the numbers who not take them through to 326 given that the Conservatives would have 317 in a PR election. So given how distorted the result was, DUP equals Northern Ireland, can we have some democratic pressure on SF to have a historic rethink.
Mary Southcott 0117 924 5139
John Doolan 07584 934 552