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Poll: fewer voters feel ‘well informed’ about EU referendum, even after Government leaflet

25th May 2016
25 May 2016

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Findings come as Electoral Reform Society and leading universities launch new tool to ‘liven up’ EU debate

For immediate release, Wednesday 25th May 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Polling for the Electoral Reform Society released today shows that the number of people who feel well informed about the EU referendum has gone down – even after the Government sent out a leaflet to 27 million homes making the case for staying in the EU.

The BMG Research poll [1], commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society, shows the percentage of people who said they’d been contacted about the EU referendum by leaflet rose from just 25% in March to 63% in the weeks following the government’s pro-EU mail-out to every UK household.

However, the polling also found that the percentage of people who said they felt well- or very well informed about the referendum actually fell from 23% at the end of March to 21% at the end of April, two weeks after the mail-out sent on the 11th April. The ERS points out that this lack of information is not for lack of interest, as the BMG polling shows 69% of people are ‘interested’ or ‘very interested’ in the referendum.

In addition, the research showed that the percentage of people who said that the Government were the most important source of information when making up their mind on the EU referendum rose by just two percentage points, from 8% to 10%, between the end of March and the end of April after the leaflet was sent out.

The findings come as the Electoral Reform Society and leading universities release a new online democratic tool for the EU vote, ‘Better Referendum’ [2]. The site will allow people to organise EU debates in their local area in the run up to the June 23rd vote, with the Society viewing it as essential that there is ‘a vibrant and diverse debate in communities across the country – not just one-sided leaflets’.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Leaflets are all well and good, but clearly they are not enough to create the kind of genuinely informed and engaging EU debate the public deserves - as this poll demonstrates. We need a dynamic campaign rather than just one-sided mail-drops – voters want to be able to compare information from both sides so that they know the full story.

“These findings show that voters’ need for an informed debate isn’t being met by the campaigns at present, and the Government’s huge leaflet drop appears to have had little effect. The lack of a well-informed conversation isn’t because people don’t care – 69% of people say they are interested or very interested in the referendum. So there is huge scope for creating a lively national conversation.

“As well as hearing the clear facts and arguments from both sides, we want to see a vibrant referendum debate - not just one-sided government leaflets but conversations in communities, colleges and workplaces across the UK about this crucial issue. That’s what got people out to vote in the Scottish independence referendum, and that’s what we need across the UK between now and 23rd June.

“Today we are launching a new online tool, ‘Better Referendum’, to give people both sides of the argument, presented clearly in one place. But more than that, people will be able to use the toolkit to debate the issues in their own communities. With younger voters at particular risk of missing out through under-registration or feeling under-informed action is essential.  Let’s liven up this debate from the grassroots up so that we have a referendum that actually inspires people to get out there and vote.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] Representative online poll of over 1,000 UK adults. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (information above) http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] See the Better Referendum website here (embargoed Wednesday 00:01):  http://www.betterreferendum.org.uk/

Better Referendum is being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

Sheffield to host public launch of push to ‘open up' EU referendum debate

19th May 2016
19 May 2016

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Embargoed 00:01, 19th May 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Sheffield will host the launch of a new democratic tool to ‘open up’ the EU referendum next week [1], as campaigners seek to move the referendum debate ‘away from personalities and to policies instead’.

The event, ‘A Better Referendum – The Big EU Debate’, which will be held at St Mary’s Church & Conference Centre on Monday 23rd May – exactly a month before the referendum – will be an open launch bringing together dozens of people from across Sheffield to discuss the issues of the EU referendum debate – with campaigners from both sides and academics giving the full facts and opinion.  

It will be the inaugural launch of a new online democratic tool to bring the debate into local communities, ‘Better Referendum’ – as part of a project coordinated by leading universities including the University of Sheffield, and the Electoral Reform Society [2].

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“We’re proud to be launching our national campaign for a ‘Better Referendum’ in Sheffield. This event – the first of its kind – is a chance to hear all the arguments from both sides, from experts and citizens, and to discuss them in an open and innovative forum.

“The EU referendum debate has so been focused far too much on the personalities and internal party spats, rather than the real issues that affect people in Sheffield and across the country.

“It doesn’t have to be like this - we can have a vibrant and lively EU referendum debate, looking at the real issues: from health and education to the economy and immigration.

There’ll be great conversations, great free food, videos, votes, and short pitches from the main campaigns, so that people in Sheffield will have a chance to hear the arguments and have your say in an engaging environment.

We can cut through the spin and have a grassroots referendum debate that we deserve. Let’s have a Better Referendum.”

Professor Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics and Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield, said:

“This is a great opportunity to come and learn about the implications of the referendum in a friendly environment. With experts, videos and lots of opportunities to ask questions about a range of policy areas, this is a fantastic chance for people in Sheffield to engage with the EU debate.”

ENDS

[1] Members of the public can sign up to the event here for free: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-better-referendum-the-big-eu-debate-tickets-25377141714

[2] Better Referendum (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) is being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

Campaigners welcome extending franchise for overseas citizens and call for votes at 16

18th May 2016
18 May 2016

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For immediate release, 18th May 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Commenting on the government’s plans to abolish the time-limit on overseas citizens’ ability to vote [1], Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“The government’s intention to abolish the time-limit on overseas British citizens’ right to vote is a welcome sign. This is a positive extension of the franchise that recognises that there is no time limit on citizenship and so there shouldn’t be one for the franchise either.

“Overseas voters – wherever they are in the world – are affected by UK government decisions, no matter how long they have been away – from pensions and benefits to foreign policy, travel and British embassies. They should have a right to vote on who makes decisions on their behalf when it comes to these and many more issues.

“In addition, the Electoral Commission’s voter registration drive among overseas citizens is as an important part of reaching the ‘missing millions’ of citizens not on the register, whether at home or abroad – something we have campaigned on as an organisation for many years. Though no one knows the true figure, there are around five million of British citizens living outside of the UK – yet just a tiny fraction are registered to vote, despite it now being easy to do online. Every citizen should be able to have their say, wherever they happen to be.

“As well as extending the franchise overseas, we want to see the government extend it at home too, to the 1.5m 16 and 17 year olds in the UK. Those educated citizens deserve a say in the constitutional future of their country – a major decision that will affect their lives.

“We know having votes for 16 and 17 year olds works -  they threw themselves wholeheartedly into the Scottish referendum, with 75% voting and 97% saying they would vote in future elections. Even those opposed to extending the franchise for the referendum now agree that they participated with enthusiasm and made valuable contributions to the debate.

“There is a widening gulf between people and politics which we can help reverse. Lowering franchise age is vital to nurturing more active citizens for future health of our democracy and we hope that, as well as opening up voting to overseas citizens, the government let 16 and 17 year olds – many of whom can already vote in Scottish elections – become active members of our democracy.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

[1] The time limit currently stands at 15 years. Link to announcement here (pp.62-63): https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/524040/Queen_s_Speech_2016_background_notes_.pdf “Overseas Electors: The Government will legislate to meet the manifesto commitment to extend the franchise for British citizens living abroad to vote in UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections. The Bill would enable British citizens who have been resident overseas for more than 15 years to continue to vote in UK elections.”

 

ERS Cymru Statement on the Queen’s Speech and Carwyn Jones’ nomination

18th May 2016
18 May 2016

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Statement from Electoral Reform Society Cymru

For immediate release; 13:59 (PM) Wednesday 18th May 2016

For further quotes, or for more information or to arrange an interview, contact Steve Brooks stephen.brooks@electoral-reform.org.uk 07525 619 622


Reacting, Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“Today’s Queen's Speech and the statement from the First Minister highlight how busy the next five years will be for devolution and political reform.  The cross-party reaction to the draft Wales Bill in the last session of Parliament, together with events in the Bay last week show that when it comes to reforming our political system, things can quickly go wrong when parties don’t work constructively together.  

"Carwyn Jones today said he wanted parties to end the Wales Bill deadlock and to find common ground across a range of policy issues.  The establishment of a constitutional affairs liaison committee between Labour and Plaid Cymru is an important step that will build momentum for reform.  The committee is a welcome development but Wales’ constitutional future must not be decided behind closed doors.  It’s important that all parties, and indeed the people of Wales, are actively involved in the next stage of devolution.

"Given the Wales Bill is likely to devolve powers over elections, the size of the Assembly and its name, it’s vital that all sides in Cardiff Bay begin talks now about how those powers might best be used.”

Commenting on voting reform, a key item on Plaid Cymru’s negotiation list with Labour, Brooks added:

"Not having an immediate concrete plan for electoral reform is an opportunity missed, but it is not an opportunity lost.  With a minority government and no consensus in the Senedd on local government re-organisation, parties will over the next five years have to reach agreement on the way forward.  Constructive co-operation is therefore vital."

ENDS 

Electoral Commission leaflet should be ‘just the start’ in shifting EU debate from personalities to policies

16th May 2016
16 May 2016

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For immediate release, 16th May 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society have welcomed the Electoral Commission’s EU referendum leaflet [1] being sent to every UK household from today – but say it should be ‘just the start’ of balancing the EU debate which campaigners say has so far ‘focused more on personalities than the real issues’.

The mail-out to every household comes as a ComRes poll shows that many people don’t know basic information about the EU [2], with 61% believing most UK laws have to be approved by the European Parliament, while 73% do not know how many countries there are in the EU.

The Electoral Commission leaflet also comes as the Electoral Reform Society and leading British universities [3] launch a new online tool in the next week, ‘Better Referendum’ [4], which has full debate and contributions from the different sides of the argument, allowing people to organise EU debates in their local area in the run up to the June 23rd vote.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“This impartial EU referendum leaflet from the Electoral Commission is a welcome contribution to improving people’s understanding of the EU referendum. So many people haven’t heard about the real issues or the facts because the conversation has so far been dominated by personality politics and internal party spats. The public need information on both sides, rather than Westminster parlour games.

“More than just leaflets though, we need a truly vibrant EU debate in every community and workplace in the UK, with the same kind of enthusiasm and lively discourse that emerged during the Scottish referendum. We don’t have to settle for a second-rate referendum debate.

“Within the next week we’ll be launching a new online tool, ‘Better Referendum’, to give people both sides of the argument, presented clearly and in one place. Better Referendum will allow people to organise events in their local areas, using the site to get the facts and the views on this crucial decision – without the personality politics.

“The public deserve better than the clamour and confusion of the conversation so far. Today’s Electoral Commission leaflet is a good start in addressing that – but let’s do far more to take the debate to every village, town and city of the country.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36286993

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/most-people-have-no-idea-how-many-countries-are-in-the-eu-survey-says-a7029711.html

[3] The Better Referendum tool is a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society and the Universities of Sheffield, Southampton, and Westminster.

[4] Better Referendum will be launching within the next week – contact Josiah Mortimer for more information.

ERS Cymru: New Presiding Officer should lead cross-party Assembly reform talks

11th May 2016
11 May 2016

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Review of UK Parliamentary boundaries will force AMs to consider how to organise future Assembly elections

  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society Cymru
  • For immediate release, 14:20, 11/05/2016
  • For further quotes, or for more information or to arrange an interview, Steve Brooks on 07525 619 622 stephen.brooks@electoral-reform.org.uk

Commenting on today’s election of a new Presiding Officer for the Welsh Assembly, Steve Brooks director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru said:

“The next five years will be a busy time for the National Assembly.  The current Wales Bill will devolve substantial powers to Cardiff Bay, that if used correctly could help transform Welsh democracy.

“With a review of UK parliamentary boundaries imminent [1], the questions of how we elect AMs will arise again. The number of Welsh parliamentary seats is expected to reduce from 40 to 29, so Wales will need to decide whether or not to keep existing Assembly boundaries.

That forces a necessary discussion on how to elect AMs and whether there should be an increase in numbers.  Whilst there’s support from across the political spectrum for fair votes and a larger Assembly, there is always the danger that such a debate could descend into partisan point-scoring. 

“That is why the Electoral Reform Society wants the new Presiding Officer to convene cross-party talks to try and form a consensus.  It’s a process that’s been used in Westminster on other topics [2] and is a way of reducing partisan interests in a debate that should be focused on what’s best for the voter.

“We’d expect the talks to focus on the size of the Assembly, the method used to elect AMs, whether the place should be renamed the Welsh Parliament, votes at 16 and other measures aimed at increasing turnout.

“It’s an important chapter in the history of the Assembly and the Electoral Reform Society congratulates Elin Jones on her appointment as Presiding Officer”.

ENDS

Notes

[1] The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies recommenced in 2016 and is expected to finalise new boundaries for Wales in 2018 http://bcomm-wales.gov.uk/splash?orig=/2013review/.  The expected proposal will reduce the number of Welsh parliamentary constituencies from 40 to 29.

Currently the Assembly’s 40 ‘First Past the Post’ constituencies follow the Westminster parliamentary boundaries – a process known as ‘co-terminosity’. 

[2] Known as a ‘Speaker’s Conference’, in Westminster from time to time special committees are established to explore and report on constitutional matters.  Originally, the Prime Minister requested the Speaker establishes a Speaker’s Conferences, but in more recent times the Speaker’s Conference has been instigated by the Speaker themselves.   For more information on the history, role and previous work of Speaker’s Conferences please visit: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN04426#fullreport

For bookings or for more information contact Steve Brooks on 07525 619 622 or stephen.brooks@electoral-reform.org.uk

 

Citizenship education must be priority for next Scottish Parliament, say campaigners

3rd May 2016
3 May 2016

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ERS Scotland launch new report, ‘Scotland’s Future Citizens’ calling for stronger citizenship education to be made priority

ERS and Bite The Ballot join forces to demand action on youth empowerment in Scotland

Statement from Electoral Reform Society Scotland for immediate release, 3rd April

For media enquiries, contact Willie Sullivan (ERS Scotland Director) on willie.sullivan@electoral-reform.org.uk, or 07940523842, or Phil Connor, ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser, on Phil.Connor@electoral-reform.org.uk // 07941087837. For Bite The Ballot queries, contact Oliver Sidorczuk on 07923892040

 


Electoral Reform Society Scotland and Bite The Ballot call on the next Scottish Government to make boosting citizenship education a priority, as ERS Scotland launch a new report [1] today on youth empowerment.

ERS Scotland and youth democracy movement Bite The Ballot have united to call on parties [2] and the next government to back the report’s recommendations to improve citizenship education - given that this election is the first in Scotland where 16 and 17 year olds can vote following the ‘huge success’ of votes at 16 in the Scottish referendum.

The campaigners want the Scottish Government to ensure that every young person leaves school in the future empowered and equipped with skills, knowledge and confidence to:

●       Register to vote - and to vote

●       Understand, challenge and help evolve our political processes, and

●       Take action, improve and strengthen our schools and communities.

ERS Scotland and Bite The Ballot have written to all the parties in Scotland to back #ThePledge, the call for stronger citizenship education focusing on these three priorities and ‘democratising Scotland’s schools’.  

Scotland’s Future Citizens’ argues that: “With the lowering of the voting age in Scotland to 16, first for the referendum on independence and subsequently for elections to Holyrood, now is the perfect opportunity to foster a generation of informed and active citizens.”

ERS and BTB's full briefing note about #ThePledge may be viewed here.

Willie Sullivan, Scottish Director of Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Even though young people today are the most connected generation in history, they're also the generation that is most disconnected from politics. They are either cut off from, don't value or aren't participating in political processes. But can we blame them?

"To combat this, it's vital that young people's voices are heard and that their priorities are understood - and acted on. But we need a much bigger focus on democracy in our schools if we're going to develop citizens who are engaged from the very start of their adult lives.

"We should constantly be asking what we can do to improve the way citizenship is developed in Scotland. With the lowering of the voting age in Scotland to 16, first for the referendum on independence and subsequently for elections to Holyrood, now is the time to foster a generation of informed, equipped and active young citizens.”

Oliver Sidorczuk, Advocacy Coordinator at Bite The Ballot, added:

“If we want the next generation of Scots to be informed, active and engaged citizens of the world, we need to empower young people with the skills, knowledge and confidence to take power in democracy.

“That's why, with two days to go until polling day, we're calling on every party - and every Scottish Parliament candidate - to make #ThePledge.

“The need for active, practical and inspiring political education - including opportunities to register to vote - is clear. And if the next Scottish Government work with us to make it a reality, we can spark a political evolution that helps young people understand, challenge and strengthen our politics for the long-term.

“Political education empowers people to take a stake in society, and engage with - and evolve - relationships between individuals, communities and decision-making. It's time to make this vision for Scotland, a reality. It's time to fulfil #ThePledge.”

ENDS

 

Notes

For media enquiries, contact Willie Sullivan (ERS Scotland Director) on willie.sullivan@electoral-reform.org.uk, or 07940523842. For Bite The Ballot queries, contact Oliver Sidorczuk on 07923892040.

[1] ERS Scotland’s new report ‘Scotland's Future Citizens’ is published, here: bit.ly/1SKpcmU.

[2] Read the full briefing on #ThePledge here: bit.ly/1SYUNqp.

[3] Holyrood candidates are being asked to add their names to campaign (tinyurl.com/Scotland-ThePledge) and share a social media asset online (bit.ly/1NFxvDG) using the hashtag #ThePledge.

[4] Bite The Ballot's research on the need for political education is available, here: bit.ly/1VVFLlE.

Poll: 9 in 10 can’t name their Police and Crime Commissioner

30th April 2016
30 Apr 2016

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  • 89% of people say they can’t name their PCC, and of those who said they can, 10% actually can’t, according to new BMG polling for the Electoral Reform Society
  • Just 4% feel well informed about the PCC election – 3% ‘well informed’ and 1% ‘very well informed’

For immediate release, 9:30am, Saturday April 30th 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

 

Nine in ten members of the public say they can’t name their local Police and Crime Commissioner – and of those who say they can, 10% get it wrong, according to a new BMG Research [1] poll for the Electoral Reform Society.

The figure drops to just 1% when 18-24 year olds are asked if they can name their PCC, and 5% for 25-34 year olds.

The findings are leading the ERS to call on all involved to ‘pull out all the stops in the final count-down to polling day’’ for PCCs, with just 4% feeling well-informed about the election for police chiefs on May 5th

The South West scores the best for knowledge of who the local PCC is, with 17% saying they know who their PCC is, compared to the West Midlands where the figure is just 4%.

7% of people in the South West say they feel well-informed about the PCC election – the highest figure. That drops to just 2% in the East Midlands, East of England, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

The ERS is calling for ‘concerted action’ to get information out there on PCCs, with under a week to go until polling day.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“The 2012 PCC election was the lowest turnout for any national election in the UK ever, at just 15%. It would seem that four years after police commissioners were introduced, the public are none the wiser about what they actually do. The fact that just one in ten can name their local PCC is an indictment of the whole approach to these roles and the election.   

“There’s clearly a real lack of public engagement in this election and the last – something exacerbated by a total lack of information about the roles and often the candidates, too. In our survey of PCC candidates in 2012 we found that 88% thought public awareness of the election was low, and of these, 62% thought it was very low. 

“In some cases the PCC areas cover millions of people - illustrating the problems many candidates have in reaching voters. The West Midlands area covers over two million voters, for example.

“There’s been very little coverage of the election this time, much as last time, and there will be big differences in turnout depending on where there are local elections. The fact that, unlike the November 2012 election, this vote coincides with council elections, will raise turnout - but much more needs to be done to learn the lessons from previous votes. There are just a few days to get the information out and encourage people to vote - so we hope everyone concerned pulls out all the stops to get the public involved in this important vote.

“Even where turnout is higher this time, the fact that just 4% of people feel well-informed about the vote shows that we haven’t had a high quality debate or a decent democratic process.

“There are still big hurdles to encouraging people to turn out to vote – as well as obstacles to candidates from a wide range of backgrounds putting themselves forward.

“A poll conducted by Populus in 2013 showed that only 11% of respondents could correctly name the person elected for their area. With today’s poll showing an almost identical result, it looks like little has changed, and little has been learnt from last time’s disastrous ballot.

“Another poll for the ERS after the election showed that 45% of people who did not vote said they ‘didn’t have enough information about the candidates to make a decision’. That remains a huge problem.

“Although it may be too late now, we need concerted action to make sure the public have all the information they need to decide on who to pick for these important roles.”

ENDS

Notes

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Read ‘How Not to Run An Election’ on the 2012 PCC elections by the Electoral Reform Society: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/the-price-of-failure-on-pcc-elections

For more information on the ERS see the website: www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

[1] Poll of 1521 respondents aged 18+ in Great Britain, conducted by BMG Research. Fieldwork conducted between the 21st-26th April 2016. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (information above).

Democracy campaigners welcome government u-turn on Union Bill

27th April 2016
27 Apr 2016

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For immediate release, 27th April 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Commenting on the news that the government has made major concessions [1] on the Trade Union Reform Bill - which has its Consideration of Lords’ Amendments stage in the House of Commons today -

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“After months of campaigning, it’s welcome news that the government have listened and made some much-needed and substantial changes to the Trade Union Bill.

“The decision to make the switch to an ‘opt-in’ approach to union political funds contingent on consultation with the Certification Officer and trade unions – and the backing of both Houses of Parliament - shows the government has recognised that this is a move which would have huge ramifications for opposition party funding. This demonstrates that – even with a topic as politically controversial as party funding – parliamentarians from all sides can work together to achieve consensus. We’d like to see that spirit of consensus sustained into negotiations between all parties on a fair and transparent party funding settlement.

“If the consultation and Parliament determine that the switch to ‘opt-in’ should go ahead, unions will now be given at least a year – as opposed to the mere three months outlined in the Bill previously - to transition towards making members ‘opt in’ to their political funds. This is a hugely positive step, and the 12-month period is a real window of opportunity for all parties to get around the table and sort out our broken party finance system once and for all. The public are sick and tired of party funding scandals, so the government and opposition should use this time to thrash out a genuine cross-party deal. A year is a long time in politics – it shouldn’t be beyond the parties to agree on a fair and transparent funding system in that time.

“The fact that Ministers are conceding that unions can trial e-voting is also a positive move. Participation in civil society is fundamentally a good thing – it should be encouraged by increasing the ways in which union members can vote, not discouraged by artificially narrowing the space for taking part.

“Finally, it’s good to see the government will now allow members to opt in to union political funds online. Under the Bill as it stood before, they would only have been able to hand in a form in person or via post – a bizarre anachronism in a digital age.”

ENDS

The Electoral Reform Society has written to all MPs today calling on them to back the government-backed changes to the Bill.

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] See here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36146561 and here http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/26/no-10-makes-new-u-turn-over-trade-union-bill

Safe seats for the boys? Women defend 10 of Wales’ 11 most marginal seats // Seddi saff i'r bois?: Merched yn amddiffyn 10 o 11 sedd fwyaf ymylol Cymru

25th April 2016
25 Apr 2016

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***Neges Ddwyieithog: Scroliwch Lawr am y Gymraeg // Bilingual Message: Scroll down for Welsh***

 

New ERS research shows women’s representation in the next Assembly will stagnate

Women far more likely than men to be contesting ‘battleground’ constituencies

Prof Laura McAlister calls on parties to take more action

For immediate release, 25th April 2016

Statement from the Electoral Reform Society Cymru

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


 

The number of women in the Assembly will flat-line at this election, risking a ‘stagnating Senedd’ warns the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru.

In a new report, ‘Women in the National Assembly’ [1], ERS Cymru have analysed all candidates for the upcoming election and their chances of winning, and found two key findings:

  • Women are far more likely than men to be contesting marginal or vulnerable seats at this election. The ERS have identified eleven battleground constituencies that might change hands in 2016. Of the eleven, ten are being defended by women [2]. Men are overwhelmingly defending the 29 constituency ‘safe seats’ outlined – with women defending just eight (28% of the total)
  • The number of women in the next Assembly will flat line – the ERS project that at this election, between 22 (37% of the Senedd) and 28 (45%) women AMs will be elected, compared to 25 (42%) elected in 2011.

The ERS have also found that until this election, 15 seats have never been won by a woman, and of them, nine have never had a female MP. Seven seats after May are likely to have still never had a female AM or MP.

A larger Assembly with more AMs, elected using proportional representation would create more opportunities for women to be elected.  But, in the meantime, ERS Cymru has called on parties to redouble efforts to promote diversity.

The report, which contains a foreword by the University of Liverpool’s Professor Laura McAllister, states that “During the last decade, the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government were world leaders in women’s representation. From 2000-2005 over half of all cabinet ministers, and from 2005-2007 over half of all Assembly Members were women – a global first. But that early promise has stalled and as this report shows, Wales now risks falling back.”

The report outlines four possible scenarios for the result in Wales, drawing on previous elections and current information, as well as data from the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University.

It follows the launch of the ERS’ Diversity Manifesto last week, ‘A Diverse Democracy: Building a Wales for All’ [3], which recommended:

  1. An increase in the number of AMs as a means of boasting the number of women elected;
  2. Parties to appoint a ‘No Woman Left Behind’ Champion to ensure local government re-organisation doesn’t result in a decrease in the proportion of women councillors and candidates;
  3. Efforts to ensure local government re-organisation doesn’t result in a decrease in the proportion of women councillors and candidates;
  4. Continued funding and support for initiatives like Women Making mA Difference which help women from a range of backgrounds enter public life;
  5. Parties to support the target of standing women in at least 40% of winnable council seats.

Professor Laura McAllister said:

"I've always warned that there's a real vulnerability around Wales and the Assembly's gender balanced status. There has always been limited goodwill about positive action amongst the political parties and a resistant culture around selecting women in key winnable seats.  Without positive and sustained interventions to promote more women, it was always likely that Wales's status as a beacon of political equality would be at risk, as this excellent report demonstrates."

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“This report makes clear that we are at risk of seeing a stagnating Senedd when it comes to women’s representation this May. Whilst some progress is being made by the parties to select women in winnable seats, women are still far more likely than men to contest marginal seats. Of our eleven battleground constituency seats, all bar one are being defended by women; whereas amongst secure constituency seats women are defending just over a quarter.

“Parties need to take action to ensure that women are selected in winnable constituency seats, particularly when sitting AMs retire. But overall, we need a larger Assembly to give space for the diversity of Wales to be represented – and a fair voting system, where women are more likely to be selected.”

ENDS

Notes

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

[1] Read the report here (embargoed 00:01, 22nd April):

English: http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/ERS%20Women%20in%20Welsh%20Assembly%20FINAL%20English.pdf

Welsh: http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/ERS%20Women%20in%20Welsh%20Assembly%20FINAL%20Cymraeg.pdf

[2] ERS’ battleground constituencies (defending party in brackets): 

1. Cardiff Central (Labour);

2. Llanelli (Labour)*;

3. Cardiff North (Labour);

4. Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire (Conservative);

5. Aberconwy (Conservative);

6. Brecon & Radnorshire (Liberal Democrat);

7. Vale of Glamorgan (Labour);

8. Delyn (Labour);

9. Vale of Clwyd (Labour);

10. Wrexham (Labour);

11. Gower (Labour).

*  Llanelli is the only marginal seat being defended by a man

[3] http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/Building-a-Wales-for-all-manifesto.pdf

 

Seddi saff i'r bois?: Merched yn amddiffyn 10 o 11 sedd fwyaf ymylol Cymru

•   Mae ymchwil newydd gan Electoral Reform Society Cymru yn dangos y bydd cynrychiolaeth menywod yn y Cynulliad nesaf aros yn debygol o aros yn ei unfan, neu erydu.

•   Mae menywod yn llawer mwy tebygol na dynion o fod yn ymladd etholaethau sydd ar 'faes y gad' yn yr etholiad.

•   Yr Athro Laura McAlister yn galw ar bleidiau i gymryd mwy o gamau cadarnhaol

25 Ebrill, 2016

Datganiad gan Electoral Reform Society Cymru

Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu cyfweliad, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Swyddog Cyfathrebu, ar 07717211630 neu Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Bydd nifer o fenywod yn y Cynulliad yn debygol o aros yn ei unfan neu erydu yn yr etholiad hwn, rhybuddiodd Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru.

Mewn adroddiad newydd, 'Menywod yn y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol' [1], mae ERS Cymru wedi mynd drwy  holl ymgeiswyr ar gyfer yr etholiad sydd i ddod a dadansoddi eu siawns o ennill, a gwelir dau brif ganfyddiad allweddol:

•   Mae menywod yn llawer mwy tebygol na dynion o fod yn ymladd i gadw seddi ymylol yn yr etholiad hwn. Mae'r ERS wedi nodi un ar ddeg o etholaethau sydd ar faes y gad sydd fwyaf tebygol o newid dwylo yn 2016. O'r un ar ddeg, mae deg yn cael eu hamddiffyn gan fenywod [2]. Mae dynion yn llawer fwy tebygol i fod yn amddiffyn yr 29 etholaeth seddi sicr a amlinellwyd - gyda menywod amddiffyn dim ond wyth (28% o'r cyfanswm)

•   Bydd nifer y menywod yn y Cynulliad nesaf yn aros yn ei unfan, neu'n erydu - mae'r ERS yn rhagamcan yn yr etholiad hwn y bydd nifer yr ACau benywaidd sy'n cael eu hethol rhwng 22 (37% o'r Senedd) a 28 (45%), o gymharu â 25 (42%) a etholir yn 2011 ymlaen.

Mae'r ERS wedi darganfod hefyd bod hyd nes yr etholiad hwn, mae 15 sedd etholaethol sydd erioed wedi cael eu hennill gan fenyw, ac o'r rhain, mae 9 sedd sydd erioed wedi cael AS benywaidd yn ogystal. Mae 7 sedd ar ôl mis Mai sy'n debygol o fod yn barhau i gadw'r record hwn o fod erioed wedi cael fenyw ym AC na'n AS.

Mae Cynulliad mwy gyda mwy o ACau, a etholwyd gan ddefnyddio cynrychiolaeth gyfrannol yn creu mwy o gyfleoedd i fenywod gael eu hethol. Ond, yn y cyfamser, ERS Cymru wedi galw ar bleidiau i ddyblu ymdrechion i hyrwyddo amrywiaeth a chydraddoldeb.

Mae'r adroddiad, sy'n cynnwys rhagair gan Yr Athro Laura McAllister o Brifysgol Lerpwl, yn nodi bod "Yn ystod y degawd diwethaf, roedd Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a Llywodraeth Cymru arweinwyr y byd mewn cynrychiolaeth menywod. O 2000-2005 roedd dros hanner yr holl weinidogion cabinet, ac o 2005-2007 dros hanner yr holl Aelodau'r Cynulliad, yn fenywod - y tro cyntaf i hyn ddigwydd yn y byd oll. Ond mae'r addewid cynnar yma wedi arafu ac fel y dengys yr adroddiad hwn, mae Cymru bellach yn beryg o droi yn ei hôl. "

Mae'r adroddiad yn amlinellu pedair senario posibl ar gyfer y canlyniad yng Nghymru, gan dynnu ar etholiadau blaenorol a gwybodaeth gyfredol, yn ogystal â data gan Ganolfan Llywodraethu Cymru ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd.

Mae'n dilyn lansiad y ERS 'Maniffesto Amrywiaeth yr wythnos diwethaf,' A Democratiaeth Amrywiol: Creu Cymru i Bawb '[3], a oedd yn argymell:

•   Cynnydd yn nifer yr ACau fel modd o greu cyfle i godi nifer y merched etholedig;

•   Pleidiau i benodi Hyrwyddwr i sicrhau mwy o ferched yn cael eu rhoi ymlaen a na fydd ad-drefnu llywodraeth leol yn arwain at ostyngiad yn y gyfran o gynhorwyr ac ymgeiswyr benywaidd;

•   Ymdrechion pellach i sicrhau na fydd ad-drefnu llywodraeth leol y  arwain at ostyngiad yn y gyfran o gynghorwyr ac ymgeiswyr benywaidd;

•   Parhad cyllid a chefnogaeth ar gyfer mentrau megis Merched yn Gwneud Gwahaniaeth sy'n helpu menywod o amrywiaeth o gefndiroedd i ddod i mewn i bywyd cyhoeddus;

•   Pleidiau i gefnogi'r targed o ferched yn sefyll mewn o leiaf 40% o seddi cyngor enilladwy.

Dywedodd yr Athro Laura McAllister:

"Rydw i eisioes wedi rhybuddio bod yna wendid yn statws cyfartal rhwng y rhywiau yng Nghymru ac yn y Cynulliad. Ar y cyfan, mae ewyllys da y pleidiau tuag at weithredu cadarnhaol wedi bod yn eithaf gwan, a mae yn ddiwylliant sydd a thuedd i gau merched allan o seddi enilladwy allweddol. Heb ymyrraeth gadarnhaol a pharhaus i hyrwyddo mwy o fenywod, mae'n debygol y bydd statws Cymru fel enghraifft o gydraddoldeb gwleidyddol mewn perygl, fel mae'r adroddiad ardderchog yma yn ei ddangos."

Dywedodd Steve Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Mae'r adroddiad hwn yn ei gwneud yn glir ein bod mewn perygl o weld erydiad yng nghynrychiolaeth merched yn y Senedd ym mis Mai. Er bod rhywfaint o gynnydd yn cael ei wneud gan y pleidiau i ddewis merched mewn seddi enilliadwy, mae merched yn dal i fod yn llawer mwy tebygol na dynion i ymladd seddi ymylol. O'r un ar ddeg o seddi etholaethol yr ydym yn eu gweld ar faes y gad, dim ond un sydd ddim yn cael ei amddiffyn gan fenyw; tra ymysg seddi etholaethol diogel mae menywod yn amddiffyn dim ond ychydig dros chwarter.

"Mae angen i'r pleidiau gymryd camau i sicrhau bod menywod yn cael eu dewis mewn seddi etholaethol ennilladwy, yn enwedig pan fydd ACau sy'n dal y seddi rheini yn ymddeol. Ond yn gyffredinol, mae angen mwy o faint Cynulliad i roi lle i amrywiaeth Cymru gael ei gynrychioli yn iawn - a system bleidleisio deg a chyfrannol, lle mae menywod yn fwy tebygol o gael eu dewis i gynrychioli eu plaid."

DIWEDD

Nodiadau

Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu cyfweliad, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Swyddog Cyfathrebu, ar 07717211630 neu Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

[1] Darllenwch yr adroddiad yma (embargo 00:01, 22 Ebrill):

Saesneg: http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/ERS%20Women%20in%20Welsh%20Assembly%20FINAL%20English.pdf

Cymraeg: http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/ERS%20Women%20in%20Welsh%20Assembly%20FINAL%20Cymraeg.pdf

[2] etholaethau ar 'faes y gad' yn ol yr ERS (plaid sy'n amddiffyn mewn cromfachau):

1. Canol Gaerdydd (Llafur);

2. Llanelli (Llafur) *;

3. Gogledd Caerdydd (Llafur);

4. Gorllewin Caerfyrddin a De Sir Benfro (Ceidwadwyr);

5. Aberconwy (Ceidwadwyr);

6. Brycheiniog a Sir Faesyfed (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol);

7. Bro Morgannwg (Llafur);

8. Delyn (Llafur);

9. Dyffryn Clwyd (Llafur);

10. Wrecsam (Llafur);

11. Gŵyr (Llafur).

* Llanelli yw'r unig sedd ymylol yn cael eu hamddiffyn gan ddyn

[3] http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/Building-a-Wales-for-all-manifesto.pdf