LCER Beginning of September Briefing
In the week that Parliament returns from its summer recess, the House of Commons 4 September and the Lords on 5 September, and children go back to school, let’s pause to see how far we have come since LCER relaunched in 2015, set up its social media team, its website and its membership grew. It is working in the Labour Party mainly with Make Votes Matter, although links with Make Votes Count, the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy, although all five of us should work together in the party and wider Labour movement with Compass, Progress and Momentum.
Trade Unions and the Politics for the Many
The attempt to encourage the trade unions to have their own discussion and move from a default position in favour of first past the post, started at the fringe meeting, Billy Hayes for LCER worked on a fringe meeting at the TUC in Brighton 2017. Out of that grew the Politics for the Many, a new kid on the block, led by Nancy Platts, who first appeared on a LCER AGM platform in 2009 as a Labour candidate in the run up to the 2010 election and more recently was the link between Jeremy Corbyn’s office and the Trade Unions.
Our work in Constituencies
This past year we have been in Blackpool, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Durham, Llandudno, London, Loughborough, Newcastle, Oxford, Plymouth, Wrexham where Labour members have discussed electoral reform, passed resolutions, even considering sending a contemporary motion to this year’s conference. Our experience is that most activists support electoral reform.
Joe Sousek, who works on Labour with LCER and cofounded Make Votes Matter placed an article in Labour List, see https://labourlist.org/2018/08/labour-under-pressure-to-back-electoral-reform/. He says that we have collected Constituency motions from 36 Constituencies. All the work is done by volunteer speakers, and we rely on people to to contact us or their CLP officers to set up meetings. We need to concentrate particularly on marginals, where we want to be in discussion with the newly chosen Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, and on heartland constituencies where the incumbent Labour MP is unsure or has definitely argued for the status quo. We have been at meetings where the MP spoke against reform and the constituency still voted to support PR.
Boundaries and Voter Suppression
The Boundary Commission reports this week. The report will reduce the House of Commons by 50 seats, in England from 533 to 501. Disproportionately reductions will be in regions where Labour does better. So the North East goes down from 29 to 25, the North West from 75 to 68, Yorkshire and the Humber, 54 to 50, London 73 to 68, West Midlands 59 to 53. All the other regions lose only 2 constituencies.
LCER has argued that the first past the post system, the boundaries based on register voters only, the recent ID to vote experiment, even the votes at 18 rather than 16, and the first past the post voting system, are part of systematic voter suppression. We know there were missing millions from the register in 2015 and boundary work was done on them before the registration for the EU referendum and the 2017 General Election. Boundaries dictate which seats are marginal and which safe before a single vote is counted. High time therefore to use a voting system where all votes count wherever they are.
With boundary changes come the choice of sitting MPs to retire or seek selection in the area which most approximates to their current constituency boundary. This process robs the first past the post supporters of their claim to value above all the MP-constituency link which changes each time there is a boundary review.
Speakers Rebuttal Cards
We hope to have cards with the facts and arguments rebutting those arguments used against Proportional Representation. So far we have coalitions, extremism, complexion, MP/constituency link, implementation of a socialism transformation of society and the political culture. Do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org your own experience or favourite myth busting.
Dates for your diary:
5 September 6.30 pm Room W2, Westminster Hall, LCER Vice Chair Mary Honeyball MEP is asking women who have been involved in our LCER/MVM meetings, about their arguments for electoral reform.
9 September – 12 September TUC Conference in Manchester
On Sunday 9 September - The Politics for the Many holds its reception at the TUC conference in Manchester hosted by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS Union. Although non affiliated it remains the leading Trade Union on electoral reform. Maybe the Musicians Union are still in favour but also Transport Unions TSSA and ASLEF have pro reform policy. And Unite the Union, UNISON, USDAW and GMB need to consult their members, as Labour constituencies are doing to find out who wants to stay committed for all time to our “nasty system” which gives so few people a meaningful vote.
If you are a delegate or visitor to the venue, Politics for the Many 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.
12 September 7 pm the LCER Executive will hold its pre conference and pre AGM Executive meeting.
Tom Cox, former MP, one time sponsor of LCER, who died on 2 August will have his funeral on 21 September at 1 pm at North Sheen Cemetery, Lower Richmond Road, Richmond, Surrey.
Saturday 22 September Women’s Conference: Tell us on email@example.com whether you are coming.
Sunday 23 – 26 September Annual Conference: Tell us on firstname.lastname@example.org whether your constituency has had a discussion, whether you are sending a resolution or have sent a policy submission to the relevant policy Commission, Justice and Home Affairs, are coming to Liverpool as a visitor or delegate. We hope to get people together there and network conference. We have a stall together with MVM and will see you there. There may be a leafleting opportunity! Or book a speaker or identify the position
Politics for the Many have a slot at the World Transformed (see https://theworldtransformed.org/programme) on Sunday 23 September, at 13.00 – 14.30 pm in Black-E Main Space, Power for the Many: A Radical Agenda for Democracy, with ERS, with Jon Trickett MP, Paul Mason, Nancy Platts, Jonathan Shafi, Alice Kinghorn-Grey.
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:
Bournemouth joint constituencies meeting on Thursday 27 September will hear form Mary Southcott on Labour’s Road to Electoral Reform: how close are we today?
Cooperative Party Conference, Bristol, 12 - 14 October, tell us if you are coming.
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, in the Grimond Room, more news later.
LCER Parliamentary & Political Officer
0117 924 5139, 077 125 11931
07584 934 55