NEC Election Briefing

As soon as details emerged of the candidates standing in Labour’s National Executive Committee elections, constituency section, LCER wrote to them asking for their views on electoral reform.  You can still vote if you haven’t already and perhaps use their statements as a guide.     

Here are their responses in alphabetical order:   

Luke Akehurst: I have been a member of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform for nearly 30 years and served on its Executive in the 1990s. I campaigned for a yes vote in the 2011 referendum on AV. I support a proportional Additional Member System, like the German or New Zealand system, for electing the House of Commons. 

Lisa Banes: In terms of changing the First Past the Post voting system, I am in favour of a shift to Proportional Representation. 

Jasmin Beckett: Definitely in support of looking at a fairer system that makes our democracy stronger. 

Ann Black:  I've always supported more proportional systems as a way of giving  
influence to everyone, not just a handful of swing voters in marginal  
seats.  The many not the few ... 

James Craigie: I am a big supporter of the single transferable vote, but the way things are at present I think I'd take any voting system that was more proportional than first past the post.  I do also feel that we need to make sure that boundary changes to constituencies only ever make constituencies more marginal not safer as has happened in the past.  I think that even where they make it safer for our side it potentially leads us to taking people for granted which is something we should never do as a party. 

Jonathan Fletcher: It is important that electoral reform is introduced for the right reasons, to encourage greater participation and greater voter engagement and not as a way for some politicians to manipulate the electorate.  I believe it will be a positive change if it increases the level of participation in elections and politics in general.  I am open minded as to which method of Proportional Representation is the best and feel more discussion is needed and education provided before an informed decision is made as to the direction we follow. 

Stephen Guy: In short. I support proportional representation.  

Heather Peto: I am in favour of electoral reform, a top up seat system like used in Scotland and Wales also gives the possibility of increasing under represented groups when they fail to get selected by local parties. 

Gary Spedding: One of the things that I have gotten used to during my time in Northern Ireland is the voting system of proportional representation and STV. I support PR voting and believe it should be used for all elections within the Labour Party. It would mean that, for instance, in the current NEC election each member gets to vote for up to 9 people. Under an STV or PR system it should be one member one vote and then they can cast their vote along order of preference. 

Stephen Stanners: As a member of the NEC I would not see it as my role to advocate my personal view and if members wanted to change Labour’s position on voting reform I would support them having their voices listened to via a formal process such as a policy consultation and/or a vote at party conference. 

Darren Williams: I'm happy to confirm that I continue to support electoral reform, as I have done throughout my time in active politics. I favour the Single Transferable Vote system and would advocate this for Westminster if the party were conducting a consultation on the issue. 

Mary Winbury: I am a longstanding supporter of a change in the electoral system to a more proportional one. As I said in a direct mail to voters when I was a General Election candidate in 2015 “I have supported a change to the electoral system for years because I think we should hear a variety of voices which reflects the diversity of our communities”. I am pleased that Welsh Labour looks likely to allow local authorities to opt to use STV in council elections.  

A decision was made not to ask Jon Lansman and Pete Willsman who as part of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy have consistently opposed reform since the early 1980s when LCER was founded.  The position of CLPD may change at their next AGM.   

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On 7 August, David Lammy MP, electoral reform supporter, tweeted: “UKIP is the BBC's Frankenstein's monster. Far right extremism has always been at its core, barely concealed by a veneer of little Englandism. Can we start treating it appropriately? .” 

UKIP members were suspended after attacking a Socialist bookshop here.

We should make the argument that UKIP has hijacked our politics thanks to our current voting system which allowed the Conservatives to move as close to the UKIP positions as Lynton Crosby reckoned they could thus gaining a majority Tory victory in 2015.  People who say under PR, UKIP would have so many MPs, neglect the fact that they could not have had more influence than they have had in the 2016 EU referendum, they would have been exposed to critical appraisal including by the BBC.  

First past the post, winner take all thinking has also influenced the inaccurate debate since about the people’s will or democracy.  Democracy is not capturing the machinery of government and ignoring the people who did not support you or building support for your policies.  Democracy is an ongoing debate which does not exist in a binary system.  In Robin Cook’s word “we need a Democracy day every day not just once every five years”.   

Voter Suppression

We were thinking whether there would be support for a contemporary motion on voter suppression, linked to Boundary changes which might be pursued when Parliament reconvenes after the Recess on 4 September.  Given all the constitutional reforms the Conservatives opposed in their 2017 Manifesto, Labour should be actively promoting voter engagement. For example, wording such as:  

This Conference opposes any measure to suppress the number of people who are able to vote or influence the outcome of elections especially discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. We reject the Manifesto policies and actions of the Conservative government aimed at voter suppression.  Labour supports measures for increasing participation: votes at 16, coupled with citizenship education in schools; proactive registration ridding us of the missing millions, including registering attainers at schools; and boundaries change based on known population, equal numbers rather registered voters.  We oppose boundary recommendations which often determine the subsequent election because most seats elect the same party with fewer marginals; and any attempt to roll out the ID to vote scheme which has already put people off going to the polling station not just those who are turned away.  We believe we need a voting system for electing MPs which makes vote count.  In addition, our current voting system means that money and messaging can be targeted at a small number of voters in marginal seats and many seats are considered safe for one party or another.  Democracy is not served by a winner take all culture, where millions of people have no direct effect on the result; a system polarising people rather than attempts to solve society’s problems and leads to anti consensus legislation and politics.  

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We look forward to several meetings in September and our Annual General Meeting on Monday 19 November.  Specifically:  

Wednesday 5 September Vice Chair Mary Honeyball MEP is inviting some of the women speakers to a meeting in the House of Commons.   

TUC Conference in Manchester 9 – 12 September  

On Sunday 9 September, the Politics for the Many is holding a Reception at the TUC Congress hosted by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS.   

They will also have a stall during the Congress and a fringe panel on Tuesday 11 September.  If you are going to the TUC Congress do let us know.  You can find information about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/502573436830168
and a full list of Politics for the Many here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PoliticsfortheMany/events.   

Women’s Conference Liverpool, 22 September   

Conference 2018 Liverpool, 23 – 26 September  

Politics for the Many also has a slot at the World Transformed on  

Tuesday 25 September, Make Votes Matter and LCER will hold their regular fringe rally on Tuesday from 7 – 8.30 with a reception following.  We have had agreement to chair from local MP, Stephen Twigg, with the following speakers on a rotating panel, Paul Blomfield, LCER Chair, Mary Honeyball, LCER Vice Chair, Nancy Platts, Jonathan Reynolds, Polly Toynbee, Chris Williamson and others.   

It will be held where we held the successful event two years ago September at Liverpool Sciences UTC, 41-51 Greenland Street, Liverpool, L1 0BS 

Let us know on EmailLCER@gmail.com if you hoping to attend the above events, or others below where we hope to have a presence:  

 

Cooperative Party Conference, Bristol on 12 - 14 October  

 

Regional Conference Labour North West, Blackpool on 3 - 4 November  

Please let us know if your region is having a Conference, where and when. 

 

Keep Monday 19 November free for the LCER AGM, more news later.  

 

Mary Southcott

LCER Parliamentary & Political Officer  

0117 924 5139, 077 125 11931  

John Doolan

Administrative Coordinator   

07584 934 552 

 

John Doolan