Campaigning for Labour to back proportional representation


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  • 13 Sep 2019 16:04 | LCER

    proportional representation: what's on at labour party conference (brighton, 21-25 september)

    Visit our stall

    We're looking forward to seeing Conference delegates at our stall (joint with Make Votes Matter). Come and say hello, pick up campaigning literature and LCER freebies, and discuss conference motions. If you won't be at Conference yourself, remind your delegate to drop by. With an election looming, we are particularly keen to get updates about the views of your Labour MP or PPC on voting reform.

    Come to our fringe meeting and reception

    Our fringe meeting will be at St Nicholas' Church, Church Street, BN1 3LJ at 7pm on Sunday 22 September. The following people are set to speak at the fringe or at the reception that follows:

    • John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor)
    • Faiza Shaheen (PPC, Chingford and Woodford Green)
    • Emma Dent Coad MP (Kensington)
    • Laura Parker (Momentum)
    • In the chair: Stephen Kinnock MP (Aberavon)
    • Mark Serwotka (PCS General Secretary)
    • Paul Blomfield MP (Chair of LCER)
    • Julie Ward MEP

    Other fringe events

    There are scores of fringe events at Conference. Here are just a couple that might be of interest to electoral reformers.

    • Transforming Power for a Real Democracy Politics for the Many, Monday 23 Sep, 1pm.
    • Democracy Broken: Can Labour Save Politics From Itself? Fabians and Electoral Reform Society, Mon 23 Sep, 5.30pm.
    • What would it take for Labour to win a general election? IPPR, Tuesday 24th September, 5.30pm.



  • 2 Sep 2019 22:24 | LCER

    On 16 August 1819, armed cavalry charged into a peaceful gathering of men, women and children who had assembled in St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, to demand political representation.18 people were killed and several hundred were injured. The event is widely seen as pivotal in the struggle for democratic representation.

    A new report, Peterloo 200, by Owen Winter, LCER's youth officer, commemorates the 200th anniversary of Peterloo. The report sets out the history of the Peterloo massacre and links the struggles for representation 200 years ago with present-day campaigns for proportional representation.

    From the Preface of Peterloo 200, by Jonathan Reynolds MP and Rupa Huq MP:

    Labour remains the only socialist party in the developed world to support the use of FPTP for general elections. It is time for us to learn from our sister parties and embrace PR. Indeed, this is already happening. One third of Labour MPs have come out in favour of PR. At the time of writing, 69 Constituency Labour Parties have passed pro-PR motions since 2017, with dozens more debates scheduled. Two affiliated unions now support PR as policy, and one of the two unions with policy against PR is reviewing its position following calls from its membership.
    200 years on from the Peterloo Massacre, we should remember and celebrate those who fought for democracy before us. We should take inspiration from their understanding that only through greater democracy can we transform society. We hope you will consider the arguments and evidence in this report and join us in calling for a democracy fit for the 21st century.

    Jonathan Reynolds is Labour and Co-operative MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury; Rupa Huq is Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton

  • 28 Jul 2019 21:44 | Anonymous

    Our New Website

    We are proud to launch our new website and membership system and we are launching a new membership drive at the same time.  We really need The Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform to be a mass-membership Labour movement with members in every constituency.  We know we have thousands of supporters across the country but the more members we have, the more influence we will have.  For as little as £1 per month (and less for concessions) you can help us campaign to change Labour Party policy so visit https://www.labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk/join-or-donate today to join.

     LCER has not been able to follow up all members since our final postal mailing in 2012.  However, Mike Huggett has chased telephone numbers and emails so we could contact you.  We now have a user friendly website, created by our membership officer, Maria Iacovou, for which much thanks.  We have kept the annual subscription low so as not to dissuade people, retaining a concessionary rate of £5.  However, this is the best possible time to push for change and we welcome both active members, speakers, invitations to speak and donations to enable us to continue the work.  We are all volunteers.  You can join, and much more, on line at www.labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk

    We have a new logo

    At our Annual Conference stall, you will see our new banner, quoting Robin Cook, our boards, badges and pens, leaflets, the many not the few, Speaker Cards Myths & Rebuttals and exchange information.  We need to gather as much information as possible about MPs and candidates not only to be in contact with them but to demonstrate how the Labour Party has changed in the direction of voting reform.   

    Our constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people.

    This is taken from Pericles, the hero of Boris Johnson, who used this phrase equivalent to the one Labour uses – the many not the few – in his funeral oration.  We have just witnessed the Conservative members (159,320 in total) elect our UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, 92,153, beating the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, 46,656, with 66 per cent of the votes albeit on a turnout of 87.4 per cent. 

    The new Prime Minister then chose the Cabinet members and other ministers, snuffing out most of Hunt’s supporters.  The appointees were mostly actively Leave in the Referendum of 2016 and in addition they are Johnson loyalists, with the party within the party, the ERG, European Reform Group Leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg is now the Leader of the House.

    So the few not the many it is with 64 per cent of the Cabinet from Public (Private) Schools.  The Conservatives really believe in winner takes all.  It is their system.  Labour cannot use it to accrue all power to itself because of the power of the media, the establishment, financial institutions.  There is no short cut to democratic socialism. So why? we ask, are some in the party so determined to stick with this first past the post system in the face of evidence that Labour’s membership has changed their minds, it produces more Conservative than Labour governments and it has failed in the last ten years to produce more than two years of majority government, and that Conservative.  Ask them perhaps?

    Registration

    With Johnson’s appointments clearly indicating that a general election is on the cards long before 2022, Labour needs to get registering its voters, young people, the inner city, those living in multioccupation.  Dominic Cummins was able to find a million extra voters mainly in Labour heartlands, at least according to the James Graham play,Brexit: The Uncivil War.  Councils are updating their registers and Labour could do better than that. 

    The Other Leadership Election  

    Many Labour voters will have been pleased to see a woman elected to the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.  That is before Jo Swinton dismissed working with Jeremy Corbyn as if there weren’t more Labour Remainers and probably now more Labour electoral reformers than their LibDem equivalents.  To maintain the victories in the local elections, especially where there used to be LibDem MPs, Jo Swinton needs the tactical vote of Labour supporters, particularly in the South West of England.  If the UK is ever to change its voting system so seats match votes, it needs Labour to exercise leadership and put voting reform into the constitutional convention it offers.  Falsely positioning the LibDems equidistant between the Tories and Labour betrays the clear need for the left and centre left, non Tory, non Brexit Party, to first defeat a No Deal Brexit and then to work together against a hostile Government by supporting a non aggression pact where we show what we agree rather than concentrate on what we disagree.  But see how she got off on the wrong foot: https://www.thecanary.co/trending/2019/07/24/john-mcdonnell-drops-a-truth-bomb-about-jo-swinsons-refusal-to-work-with-jeremy-corbyn/  

    The new divide in politics

    First past the post creates the culture of winner takes all that Boris’ cabinet exemplifies.  It also exaggerates difference, north – south, rural – urban.   The Left/Right spectrum does not coincide with the pro and anti EU one but most of electoral reformers are instinctively in favour of the UK membership of the European Union.  However, there are differences in tactics with Mike Amesbury, Jon Cruddas, Stephen Kinnock, Justin Madders, Grahame Morris, Lisa Nandy, all electoral reformers, among the 26 Labour MPs who signed the letter urging Jeremy not to go along the track of coming out completely for Remain in a General Election as opposed to a Referendum.  One mistake the People’s Vote made was to argue for a People’s Vote rather than Remain and to use that as a proxy.  We need more respect for difference and willingness to work with others for what we believe in and share in common.

    Thank you to electoral reformers

    On 8 July we learned which Labour MPs were standing down rather than standing in their constituency at the next General Election.  Among them were two electoral reformers, Stephen Twigg and Steve Pound.  Most of those set to leave are either status quo or have never said, Kevin Barron (AV supporter), Ronnie Campbell (status quo), Jim Fitzpatrick (status quo), Kate Hoey (who knows?) and Geoffrey Robinson (status quo).  LCER research shows the longer one has been a Labour MP the more likely they are to support first past the post and the corollary, the newer MPs are more likely to support electoral reform.  We should thank Stephen Twigg for all his contribution to electoral reform.  He was in favour of reform as NUS President, later as Fabian General Secretary, as the unexpected MP for Enfield Southgate (Were you up for Portillo?), Minister and Deputy Leader of the House to Robin Cook, out of office in 2010 and MP for Liverpool West Derby since 2015.  He wrote, with Andrew Adonis,The cross we bear: electoral reform for local government, for the Fabian Society and chaired two recent LCER/Make Votes Matter Conference fringes in 2016 and 2018.  Thank you, Stephen. 

    Opportunities to discuss our voting system – Peterloo and Trade Unions

    LCER, working with Make Votes Matter, has had successful meetings at West London Momentum, in Folkestone, and a brilliant presence at UNISON’s Conference and at the recent Tolpuddle Festival, where leading trade union supporter of electoral reform, PCS’ Mark Serwotka led the march with Jeremy Corbyn.   We are encouraging people to attend the Politics of the Many Conference, This is what Democracy looks like, in Manchester on 31 August.  You can book to go here: https://politicsforthemany.co.uk/event/this-is-what-democracy-looks-like/.

    This will celebrate the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in St Peter’s Field, Manchester on 16 August 1819, when a peaceful crowd (between 60 and 80 thousand) demanding the reform of parliamentary representation were charged by cavalry.   LCER’s Youth Officer is producing research showing how this led to the later attempts supporting widening the franchise by the Chartists and Suffragettes, and indeed to the establishment of trade unions after the deportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

    Events

    The coordination of LCER and Make Votes Matter speakers event is now being undertaken by Caroline Osborne, a Labour and Cooperative Party Member in Gosport, taking over from Joe Sousek.  She writes: “I am a Labour and Cooperative party member.  I have held the role of campaign coordination and equalities officer in my Gosport CLP and also stood as council candidate. I have been involved in several campaigns including Hampshire Save our Children's Centres and Changing places Gosport. I joined Make Votes Matter in May 2019 in the capacity of Labour Mobiliser and is an LCER member.”

    We have now got nearly 70 constituencies committed to changing to a more proportional voting system.  We need more meetings in our heartlands and in Labour’s target seats.  We are compiling a comprehensive list of the positions of Labour candidates, including MPs, who will stand in the next General Election.  We look forward to hearing from LCER contacts and members who can provide us with more intelligence, contact details of Prospective Party Candidates (PPCs) so we can support their campaigns. 

    We can supply speakers to Labour and trade union meetings.  We now have a speaker’s kit containing the booklet, the many not the few, Speaker Cards containing 12 Myths & Rebuttals, we have an extra rebuttal 13 based on misinformation about the European elections, an Idiot’s Guide to speaking at these events, and leaflets on systems, women, trade union, young people and various regions and nations with quote from local elected and aspiring politicians.

    Looking forward to Conference

    We have booked the same venue as Brighton 2017, outside but close to the Brighton Conference Centre on Sunday evening.  We have already had agreement to speak from Chingford & Woodford Green PPC, Faiza Shaheen, the Director of CLASS, the Centre for Labour and Social Studies; Clive Lewis MP for Norwich South, Emma Dent Coad MP for Kensington and others to be confirmed.

    We hope this year there will be resolutions on voting reform and would like to meet delegates and visitors from constituencies who have sent them on the Saturday.  There will also be an opportunity to discuss electoral reform at other fringe meetings and at our Make Votes Matter and LCER stall where we hope to meet you and other delegates and visitors.  Let us know if you will be there, in what capacity, and/or if you can put us in contact with your delegate urging them to come to our stall. 

    Representing rather than Polarising Views in Labour

    At this year’s Annual Conference, Daventry Labour Party has put forward a rule change to try and heal the divisions inside Labour. Their amendment reads: “In all elections in which more than one candidate is to be elected, the Single Transferable Vote system with constraints to ensure gender balance shall be used”.  Ken Ritchie writes: This is important for electoral reformers. We want electoral reform because the country needs a better sort of politics, but in the Labour Party we still elect the National Executive Committee using a system that allows the slate with most votes to win all the seats, leaving others without a voice on the committee.  STV would change that. By using a proportional system (and one widely used in the Labour Movement) we would not just be practising what we preach but we would be taking a big step towards healing some of the Party's divisions: if Labour is to remain a broad church, it needs a voting system that ensures the church has seats for all parts of it.”

    Country Standard

    Circulated with the Morning Star, this Summer edition of the paper founded in 1935, covers the unsung success of Witney Labour Party who took control of their town council electing 11 of the 17 councillors on a local manifesto of “community empowerment and equality in our wonderful town”, the town which used to be David Cameron’s fiefdom. One of LCER’s leading supporters over the years, Duncan Enright, was elected.  The paper also mentions that High Peak Labour took back control of Derbyshire Council.  Nick Palmer, once a LCER sponsor MP, won a seat this May in Waverley Borough Council in the Godalming Binscombe Ward.  LCER researcher, Theo Morgan, delved into the situation where Labour did not field a candidate and there was no Labour Group.  There are 70 councils where there are absolutely no Labour councillors.  This leaves no one for local trade unionists to negotiate with.  The situation is that too often we abandon rural areas and their issues through hypertargeting and relying on over tactilisation.  Bury St Edmunds is feeling this and putting a resolution to Annual Conference.   Honing in on our target seats under first past the post could be reversed by a change of voting system where all votes count and which we drew attention to in Reversing Labour’s Retreat.  We have a few copies of Martin Linton and Mary Southcott’s Making Votes Count: Labour’s Road to Electoral Reform with tables from Sir John Curtice.  Former Chair, William Bain, and Mary are thinking of updating the book but it takes you up to 1998 and most of the arguments still work.

    Stoke in the West Midlands

    If you are in or around Stoke on 31 July, let us know and perhaps we can arrange to get people together? During the day or at a branch meeting event in the evening. 

    Mary Southcott

    Parliamentary & Political Officer

    0117 924 5139 / 077 125 11931

    John Doolan

    Adminstrative Coordinator

    07584 934 552


  • 5 Jul 2019 09:07 | LCER

    LCER's submission to the Labour Party's 2019 policy consultation drew on evidence that the Labour Party membership is now firmly in support of electoral reform, to suggest that the Party should urgently consult its members on their views on a new voting system.

    "The only way politics will move to reflect the voters is if Labour stops its opposition and embraces change. It will be popular and cannot lose us votes."

    Read the full text of our submission on our policy briefings page. 


  • 20 Jun 2019 11:08 | LCER

    Labour won – Phew! The Brexit Party ate into the Conservative Vote.  How close four parties are from the magic threshold of 25 per cent under first past the post when you start getting loads of seats.  On Martin Baxter’s seat calculator at the moment the Tories would be reduced to 28 seats with the Brexit Party on well over 250.  We are not predicting it would happen in reality but it does underline how egregious our current voting system is.  But see recent Electoral Calculus: https://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/homepage.html.  Here Labour gets wiped out in Scotland and keeps its safest seats often in Leave areas. 

    Labour might retain more seats than the Conservatives but we made the mistake in the 2015 General Election of thinking UKIP would only take Conservative votes whereas it took our Labour votes too, hence a majority Tory government and the Brexit Referendum. So let us not rely on Nigel Farage to get us a Labour government.  Talks are already underway so that if we have a snap election the Brexit Party will not stand in Conservative seats where the MP/candidate is in favour of a No Deal Brexit.  The strange death of Labour Britain by Matthew Goodwin illustrates Labour’s dilemma not just on being clear on Remain or Brexit but to keep a coalition together which is a winning formula for Labour: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-strange-death-of-labour-britain-8npfmgqnn.  Andrew Rawnsley has written eloquently on the voting system unfit in a multi party age: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/09/our-archaic-first-past-post-system-alarmingly-unfit-multi-party-age?CMP=share_btn_link.  

  • 2 May 2019 19:23 | LCER

    Several Labour electoral reformers were able to get into the Estate on 23 April went along to a debate introduced by Change UK, former Labour MP, Angela Smith, supported by other Labour defectors, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes who had just launched their party in Bristol that morning. Mike was an Alternative Vote supporter, Chuka the party’s only LCER platform member. There were some more promising signs than the mea culpa from Angela Smith, a self confessed first past the post supporter before she left Labour. Labour MPs, Paul Blomfield, Jim Cunningham, Rupa Huq, Jonny Reynolds and Alex Sobel intervened, Justin Madders and Paul Sweeney spoke, and several other Labour MPs were there: Jon Cruddas, Thangam Debbonaire and Nick Thomas-Symonds. Cat Smith responded to the debate and admitted she was a supporter.

    The SNP MPs told us again how wonderful they are in supporting Electoral Reform even though the current system gave them a winner’s bonus especially in 2015. Ditto Liberal Democrats were there in relative strength. On the whole the Conservative benches were empty but there were some positive inputs from a Cornish MP Derek Thomas and a Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, but judge for yourself: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-04-23/debates/D3B823DB-CB97-4508-8398-7ABD7E9F1609/ProportionalRepresentationHouseOfCommons.

  • 22 Apr 2019 09:17 | LCER

    parliamentary debate on proportional representation

    MPs return to Parliament tomorrow Tuesday, 23 April, St George’s Day, when a former Labour MP, now Change UK, Angela Smith introduces a debate on Proportional Representation in the House of Commons, at 4.30 pm, see https://calendar.parliament.uk/calendar/Commons/All/2019/4/23/Daily. We hope our electoral reforming Labour MPs can demonstrate not only how many they are, but that only Labour’s position changing can lead to electoral reform and also that this is not about party interest but about our broken democracy and the political culture

  • 22 Feb 2019 04:00 | LCER

    Are you going to Women’s Conference in Telford on Saturday 23 February? If so LCER and Make Votes Matter have a stall – come and see us. Our Women’s Officer, Jane Speller, and Mary Southcott will be there and would love to see you. Voting reform is a women’s issue! Contact Jane at spellerjane@yahoo.co.uk or text her on 07847 627 307.

  • 19 Feb 2019 18:00 | LCER

    You will have heard that seven Labour MPs have left the Party. This is sad and takes the pressure off the Government at a time when we need alternatives to a NO Deal Brexit. It is interesting that most of them are supporters of first past the post. Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith are on record as opposing electoral reform. Mike Gapes voted for Alternative Vote in the Referendum in 2011 but opposed PR. Ann Coffey was a sponsor of LCER in 1997 but hasn’t been active recently. Chuka Umunna inspired the relaunch of LCER in 2017 and has appeared on many platforms being our Vice Chair at that time. We thank him for all the work he has done to draw attention to our broken politics and the need to change our voting system. We still have more in common than what divides us except tactics.

  • 18 Feb 2019 19:00 | LCER

    Paul flynn mp (1935-2019) - an advocate for  proportional representation.

    We are sad to hear of the death of Paul Flynn. In the 1980s, Paul was one of the few Labour supporters interested in the devolution debate then going on in Scotland. He won his Newport West seat in 1987 at same time that Robin Cook and Jeff Rooker joined LCER. When we held our Democracy Dinner, because we had no money to do anything, Paul sent signed copies of his books for Damien Welfare to auction. Actually the current CEO of the Electoral Reform Society, Darren Hughes, did the auction for us. The books were, from memory, How to be an MP (1997), How to Fix an Election: New Labour and the Ballot Box (2000) and The Usual Suspect (2010). He wrote a biography of David Taylor MP, also an electoral reformer, after he died and called it "Clockwinder who wouldn't say No". Paul supported Remain but has not been able to vote recently because of illness. We and politics will miss him.

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PR IN THE MEDIA



Changing voting to vote for change
Daniel Goldstraw, The Overtake, 5 August 2019

For fairness vote against first past the post elections
Stephen Kinnock, The Times, 2 July 2019

Our archaic First-Past-The-Post system is alarmingly unfit for a multi-party age
Andrew Rawnsley, Opinion, The Guardian, 9 June 2019

The European elections proved the need to reform Britain's voting system
Willie Sullivan, politics.co.uk,
29 May 2019

We're led by a party not fit for power in a system not fit for purpose

Gary Younge, The Guardian, 29 March 2019

The "Winner Takes it All" mentality of First Past the Post has supercharged Brexit's toxicity
Mark Thompson, New Statesman America, 21 February 2019

Once Brexit is over, what’s left? A two-party system that kills optimism
Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, 21 February 2019

The Independent Group won’t succeed unless it supports electoral reform – here’s why

Joe Sousek, The Independent, 21 February 2019

The Independent Group will only succeed if PR is their central policy
Catherine Mayer, The Guardian, 20 February 2019

Why is the Labour Party machine ignoring members on voting reform?
Owen Winter, Labour List20 September, 2018

Labour under pressure to back electoral reform

Tom Guha, Labour List23 August 2018

The most stable, successful nations in the world have PR, so why can’t we?

Letters, The Guardian, 28 June 2018

First Past the Post leaves UK elections uniquely vulnerable to data hijack
Brian Eno, The Guardian, 6 April 2018

Why Labour Should Support PR

Editorial, The Clarion, 7 March 2018

Britain's ‘absurd’ voting system could see the Tories win an election without a popular mandate
Lamiat Sabin, Morning Star, 6 March 2018

7 reasons why proportional representation is a feminist issue
Amelia Womack, New Statesman, 6 February 2018

Ditching First Past the Post really would be "taking back control"
Phil McDuff, The Guardian, 1 August 2017

Here's what the UK electoral map would look like with proportional representation

Louis Dore, Indy 100, 11 June 2017

Labour supporters queue around the block to hear about proportional representation
Jon Stone, The Independent, 28 September 2016

Proportional representation: the pledge that would guarantee a Labour landslide in May
Alan Martin, New Statesman, 28 January 2015

CONTACT

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84 Cranbrook Road, Bristol BS6 7DB

Email:
lcer@labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk


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