Campaigning for Labour to back proportional representation


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  • 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.

  • 1 Feb 2019 04:00 | LCER

    Regional and Constituency events

    Are you attending the London regional conference on 2 and 3 March? Let us know if you are attending any events in your region or perhaps your constituency or branch would like a speaker on electoral reform. Contact us know on lcer@labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk.

     Make Votes Matter awards

    Jane Speller received the Make Votes Matter Group Campaigning Democracy Award from Rory Bremner for LCER on 11 December in Westminster. She thought the People’s Lobby for Proportional Representation, organised by MVM, a huge success. You can read more onwww.makevotesmatter.org.uk/nebuws/2018/12/17/lobbyists-meet-mps-in-westminster-to-make-the-case-for-fair-votes. If you want to keep up the good work please visit our website and consider joining LCER here: lcer@labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk.

     Constitutional Reform in Wales

    There is a petition going around to extend the promise of Votes@16 in Wales (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42848685) and in Scotland to UK parliamentary elections.

     Trade Unions

    Politics for the Many have produced a model resolution for trade unions to use for their conferences. Read it here

    LCER believes that in addition we need the Labour Party to be open to changing the voting system we use to elect MPs. If you agree add:
    d) A voting system for Westminster which makes votes count, which reaches out to safe Labour seats and which illustrates how Labour will exercise power with the people.

    Unlock Democracy

    UD continues to campaign across the constitutional reform spectrum. It has just sent out an email linking their issues with bread ‘n’ butter ones. “Millions of people are angry about the situation of the NHS, the housing crisis and the undermining of other public services. From a farcical voting system to a constitution that lets ministers continue to centralise power, these are all connected by our unreformed, archaic

    political system.” Farces are funny but what a fine mess our voting system has got us into.

     How to win PR ? according to Make Votes Matter

    New supporters and experienced activists are welcome to the “How to win PR” movement meetings in Harrogate on 9 March and Bristol 16 March. As long as you are committed what they call real democracy – see here 

     If there are a group of people in your geography who would like Labour specific speaker training in April and you don’t have local elections on Thursday 2 May, or in May, June or July, if you do, let us know and perhaps we can bring people together this year to support each other to convert the Labour Party away from the current voting system.

     Model Resolutions

    This year constituencies can send resolutions to Annual Conference starting 21 September in Brighton. We can send you model resolutions which link the need for electoral reform with registration, boundaries, representativeness, environment, Labour values of equality and democracy. At the Fabian Conference on BREXIT on 19 February one break out group, the Road to Number Ten, raised the issue of electoral reform without which we might not win the general election and three of the four platform speakers supported changing our voting system.

     Vernon Bogdanor’s new book

    John Newham attended the Constitution Unit’s launch of Vernon Bogdanor's new book, Beyond Brexit, published by Tauris this year and reports back: There was little cheer for electoral reformers except acknowledging that Brexit could prove a catalyst for a written constitution. He predicts that the road to electoral reform has grown steeper in that Brexit makes electoral reform at Westminster less likely - which he regrets. He predicts that Labour will split (sadly prophetic) but not the Conservatives (but see above). We know our current voting system is keeping both parties together but if splits happen, that would be a good reason for introducing PR, but perhaps after the horse has bolted. The bulk of the talk however was on the relationship between Legislature, Executive and Judiciary rather than the mechanics of the electoral system or the fortune of the political parties. Even so … the long march continues!

     Next Steps?

    APPG on Electoral Campaigning and Transparency

    Stephen Kinnock MP has launched an All Party Group on electoral campaigning and transparency. Read it here

     Last but not least let’s learn from other countries - Linking the debate we are having to the one we need to have

    Professor Neophytou Loizides writes: “Unlike continental European political systems, Westminster politics lacks the key institutional incentives to ensure moderation. The most politically stable EU countries elect their MPs through proportional representation, which is more likely to lead to multi-party legislatures. Each party, even the largest ones, must reach out to allies to form a credible coalition after elections. In Germany, the Netherlands or Finland the norm is for no single party to govern by itself and therefore party leaders are dependent on each other. Initiating an honest debate on institutional reform that can move the country beyond the first-past-the-post electoral system is likely to induce moderation. In the very short-term, it could even provide incentives for constructive compromises within segments of the Conservative and Labour parties, even if their leaderships fail to do so.”https://theconversation.com/brexit-how-a-third-party-mediator-could-break-the-parliamentary-impasse-110065


  • 10 Dec 2018 09:55 | LCER

    Last week, the new Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform Executive chose Paul Blomfield MP to lead Labour Electoral Reformers into 2019.  
    The new elected and Coopted Executive comprises: Paul Blomfield MP, Andy Burkitt (Treasurer), Mary Curran (North West), Benj Eckford (North East), Billy Hayes (Trade Unions), Euan Healey (Twitter Manager, Scotland), Mary Honeyball MEP, Maria Iacovou (Membership, East of England), Graham Lane (London), Ruth Lister (House of Lords), Ken Ritchie (East Midlands), Joe Sousek (South West, Make Votes Matter), Jane Speller (Yorkshire & Humber), Bill Taylor (Facebook), Monica Threlfall (London), Owen Winter (Youth Officer).  John Doolan (Administrative Coordinator) and Mary Southcott (Parliamentary & Political Officer) were reappointed. 
    Further cooptions will be made to ensure the representation of each region and nations to include the South East (once the predominant region supporting PR outside London), Wales and the West Midlands.  If you would like to be considered for cooption particularly if you are living in one of the three just mentioned, please contact John or Mary.  

    This week, on Tuesday 11 December, the movement for Proportional Representation are lobbying Parliament, calling for MPs to back what they call fair votes.  It is the day that the Commons were supposed to vote on the Prime Minister's plan for Brexit which can of course be linked with our corrupt and outdated voting system, where most votes do not matter.  You can support or join, see details here: https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/lobby/.  

    Make Votes Matter - People's Lobby for Proportional Representation - Proportional Representation
    Join us as we descend on Westminster to demand fair votes! On Tuesday 11th December, the movement for Proportional Representation will lobby Parliament, calling on our MPs to back fair votes.
    www.makevotesmatter.org.uk

    If you cannot attend there is something that everyone can do.  
    You can hold a meeting to discuss electoral reform in your branch, constituency, trade union, Labour club or women's forum.  It is often the best meeting because it goes to the heart of what we mean by democracy.  
    You can invite a speaker around which to build an event.  We look forward to your request. 

    You can be trained to be a speaker and do events yourself. Ask us. 
    You can let us know of events coming up in your area especially ones you are attending which deal with this and allied issues.  

    Last but by no means least, you can join LCER and help support our appearances at conferences and other events and even hold fundraising events.    

  • 3 Nov 2018 15:00 | LCER

    On Saturday 3rd November there were regional conferences in Blackpool, Labour North West, and Southampton, Labour South East.  Make Votes Matter and LCER attended in the South East and held the fringe meeting What Proportional Representative would mean for the South East: A First Time Labour MP for Surrey? with Ann Black, Peter Chowney (PPC Hastings & Rye) and Joe Sousek (Make Votes Matter).  

    Please Watch our New Video

    Together with LCER Member and filmmaker Tony Price, we have put together a short film with several Labour politicians who are in favour of Electoral Reform.  You can watch it here.

    What to do at the margins? A new Progressive Alliance?

    LCER was against the withdrawal of Labour candidates suggested by the Progressive Alliance, and wished that the emphasis would have focused on the support of candidates who supported electoral reform where there was a clear choice.  Most of the problems of voting and the need for tactical voting are inherent in the current voting system. 

    We were however grateful to the information their campaign gave voters about how to vote to remove Conservative incumbents.  Meantime in those very same marginals, LCER encouraged Labour candidates to emphasise their support of electoral reform in their leaflets, blogs, facebook, websites, tweet, hustings and in doorstep contact. 

    Support of electoral reform indicates an understanding of the need to change politics and a willingness to listen to and work with others.  Recognising that our politics is broken, Labour wants to set up a constitutional convention.  After the fiasco which is Brexit, we need a new deal for democracy.  But with no direction on electoral reform?  Labour’s default position, and many of the affiliated trade unions too, is first past the post as we found at Annual Conference in the reference back.  Chris Williamson MP told our fringe meeting in Liverpool to keep our eyes on the prize. 

    So if your PPC, Labour prospective Parliamentary candidate, is chosen, find out their position, put us in contact, wish them luck and ask how we can help their campaign.  Just email us with any information to EmailLCER@gmail.com

    But if you want to know more about the experience during the 2017 you could read the following: A New Way of Doing Politics: Working Together To Challenge a ‘safe’ Tory seat which you can order for £12 by sending email to southwestsurreycompass@gmail.com.  You can also read more in All Together NOW: The Progressive Alliance and the 2017 General Election by Barry Langford, Biteback Publishing, ISBN 978-1-78590-286-4. 

    Elections to our LCER Executive Committee

    You may have noticed if you are a paid up member of LCER that we are running our Executive elections.  If you have not received a ballot, tell us and we will check this out.  Only paid up members of LCER can vote.  Please check out the candidates at  https://www.labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk/ec-election-2018  and do vote. 

    This great bunch of people reflects the profile of our membership, geographically and age profile.  Recently we have tried to change the arguments from simple mathematical to political culture in an effort to attract more women.  We need to thank  both Justina Cruickshank and James Roberts who have worked on our Executive this year but stood down.  We hope they will continue to take up speaking engagements and have kept them on our LCER Directory. 

    Most of our Executive double up at the many speaking engagements we are engaged on, particularly now in safe Labour seats and Marginals, but wherever you live just ask and we can find someone.  From the feedback people really enjoy the discussion.  Just send us a request to supply a speaker to EmailLCER@gmail.com.  

    Our latest success was in Bristol West, where the vote was overwhelming, with three against and two abstentions, after Billy Hayes, our LCER trade union officer, has addressed the issue for the Politics for the Many (https://politicsforthemany.co.uk) working with trade unions, particularly the largest affiliated trade unions, GMB, UNISON and UNITE, and Joe Sousek, LCER and Make Votes Matter, who had taken the Clifton & Hotwells motion to the Constituency meeting.  Thank you Labour members in Clifton/Hotwells and those who spoke in the debate about democracy as a principle and the end of electoralism. 

    Events coming up

    6 November: Watch for the voter suppression, low turnout and how the first past the post voting system works, or not, in the Mid Term USA Elections. 

    12 November midnight: End of voting for the LCER Executive.   

    Our AGM is on Monday 19 November: We welcome more people to become members of course as we are all volunteers and there is much work to be done.  Do come to our Annual General Meeting whether a member or not to join in our discussion on the way forward. 

    1 December: The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has their annual conference and AGM at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, London. 

    The Make Votes Matter Lobby, People for Proportional Representation, is in Westminster on 11 December https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk.

    2019

    February Women's Conference in Telford – let us know if you are going?

    Any regional and national conferences being held?  

    What do we do about the trade unions – if you are a trade unionist let us know which – and whether you will be going – and we will try and go too. 

    Let’s work together to try and persuade those running the relevant Commission, Justice and Home Affairs, (and Shadow Cabinet Office) which translates as

    That we need to consult the Labour members particularly as our recent experience in all the places we have visited have majorities for change.  Next year we can put resolutions to conference so make sure you discuss and decide something on our outdated voting system.   

    So our New Year wish is for an official consultation leading to more involvement, more meetings, more recognition of the change that has been undergone in the Party, and more candidates and MPs and Peers, Mayors and councillors in favour of reform.  And you of course. 

    Go for it!


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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

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