Tag Archives: electoral reform society

ERS General Election report shows that Liberal Democrats are heavily under-represented

It doesn’t matter what the result of a Westminster election, the Liberal Democrats are usually under-represented. Our 23% in 2010 should have brought us 140 MPs. At this election, according to an Electoral Reform Society report, we could have had 29 or 39 MPs under a proportional system.  Given that Labour and the Tories are doing generally all right out of the system at the moment, we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for reform.

If the election had been conducted under the Alternative Vote, which we campaigned for and squandered too much  political capital on in the coalition negotiations in 2010, we’d have had even fewer MPs than with First Past the Post. Only 11 Liberal Democrats would have been elected.

The report is generally a depressing read, highlighting how divided we are as a nation. They highlighted the number of wasted votes and pointed out that this was not a good thing for legitimacy:

In the end, we have a system that recognises the geographical location of a voter and nothing else. It is where voters are – rather than their choices – that matters. This must change if we are to restore legitimacy to our political institutions.

It says that First Past the Post has had its 3rd strike after failing to deliver decisive results in the last 3 elections. I beg to differ with that one. At least in 2010, we had a Government which had the support of more than half of the electorate for the two parties. Those of us who have been around for longer can attest to the fact that it has always been unfair. In my first election a quarter of the votes for the Alliance resulted in just 23 seats.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments

What the Electoral Reform Society Report on the Referendum missed out

Recently, the Electoral Reform Society published its report on the EU Referendum. It’s an interesting read.

It’s main recommendations include:

  • greater pre-legislative scrutiny of a Referendum Bill
  • a more deliberative approach
  • a body which can rule on the veracity of claims

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, ERS conducted a poll to find out the key influencers of  and perceptions about the campaign.

This graphic, showing where people got their information from, sums up how well the Leave campaign hit its target market and how completely rubbish the Remain campaign was.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 27 Comments

Five Liberal Democrats elected to Electoral Reform Society Council

Five Liberal Democrats have been elected to the Electoral Reform Society’s Council. They are Crispin Allard, Paul Pettinger, Keith Sharp, Jon Walsh, who were re-elected, and new arrival Wera Hobhouse. There are also 4 Labour, 1 Green and 5 non politically aligned members.

The society has its AGM today at which the new Council takes office.

What surprises me, from the official announcement, is that there were only just over 3500 valid voters of whom less than 30% actually cast their ballot. I would have expected ERS to have more members and for those members to be more engaged in the future course of the organisation.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

The Independent View: Let’s make 2015 the last ever lottery election

Who could have predicted it? Who would have thought that four years after the Alternative Vote was firmly rejected by voters in a national referendum, we would be approaching the 2015 general election with First Past the Post at Westminster under serious scrutiny? Or that local electoral reform could be a realistic outcome of power-sharing talks between Liberal Democrats and one or other of the major parties (provided Lib Dems make it a ‘red-line’ issue)?

What are the game-changers? Firstly, FPTP’s supposed ability to deliver clear majority government was justification enough for many to put up with the obvious lack of proportionality.  That no longer applies. As The Economist says: “Unaccustomed and ill-adapted to multi-party politics, Britain is more likely to get weak, unstable governments. That will only fuel the dissatisfaction with career politicians in the main parties. And if the parliamentary system comes to be seen as both unfair and ineffectual, then it is in for a crisis of legitimacy.”

With FPTP stripped of its main justification, other arguments are also coming to the fore. In The Lottery Election, published last month by the Electoral Reform Society, Professor John Curtice argues that relatively small shifts in opinion could have massive effects at the Westminster level. Meanwhile, UKIP could come 6th in seats but 3rd in votes, and SNP could come 6th in votes but 3rd in seats. So far, so unfair.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

The Independent View: Constitutional reform is back in fashion

ERS logoFor so long, those who care passionately about political reform have been told there are more important things to worry about – that tax, welfare and housing will always take precedence over the constitution and questions of process.

The Scottish independence referendum has almost put an end to that kind of talk. As the Liberal Democrats have always known, politics and the constitution fundamentally shape the collective decisions we make, and are therefore of the utmost importance. The referendum also undermined the old put-down that no one cares about constitutional reform. Try telling that to the 97% of Scots who registered to vote, or the 85% who went to the polls. When the stakes are high enough, people will get involved.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 3 Comments

A longer listen for the weekend: Can liberalism be better advanced by Lib Dems or Tories?

That was the topic up for debate at a fringe event a week ago at Spring Conference, hosted jointly by the Electoral Reform Society and Liberal Reform.

Lisa Smart, PPC for Hazel Grove, chaired the discussion, with Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne, Conservative and Director of Bright Blue Ryan Shorthouse, and the ERS’s Nick Tyrone completing the panel.

As Jeremy indicates at the beginning of his remarks, he can answer the question shortly: the Lib Dems are the proper home for liberals. But fortunately for the audience he elaborated a little, including some challenges that he thinks the party has to meet if it is to remain at the liberal cutting edge.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 46 Comments

The Orange Bookers v the Cameroons: Liberal Reform/ERS event at spring conference

This Saturday, March 8th, at spring conference, Liberal Reform and the Electoral Reform Society will be hosting an event in the Bootham Room of the Hilton York on the topic of Which Party for Liberals? Conservative or Liberal Democrats?

I know already that, right from the title, there will be some in the party who will be upset. “Why limit the choice outside of the Lib Dems to just the Tories?”, I can imagine some will ask. The binary nature of the debate was inspired by Nick Boles’ talk a few months ago about the need for a “National Liberal” party, one …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged | 8 Comments
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    I could have phrased it better Katharine. My meaning was that the difficulty is nationally getting the message across to voters is the problem the...
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