ERS in the Press 2022
In many ways 2022 has been a year of unprecedented volatility in modern British politics. However, throughout the year we have worked to ensure electoral reform and democratic issues were leading headlines. Our communications and press team provided in-depth analysis, opinion pieces and interviews to journalists, pushing vital democratic issues higher up the news agenda to increase public support.
The year started with the Government passing the Elections Act mandating that voters will have to show ID when they vote. The ERS provided comment (in print and video) warning of the damaging impact this would have on democracy that was covered in the Mirror, Independent, Politics UK and National in Scotland. In January, the ERS was also covered making the case for reforming the House of Lords in the Express, when Conservative MPs flirted with the idea of abolition after peers blocked the Government’s protest bill.
In March, the ERS was covered in the Times highlighting the still “shocking lack of representation” of women in parliament for International Women’s Day. And in April a report co-produced with IPPR, was covered prominently the Observer warning of the dramatic loss of faith young people have in democracy to make their life better.
In the lead-up to and during the local elections in April and May there was coverage of ERS research highlighting the absurdly disproportionate result FPTP produces in MyLondon, the Camden New Journal and Islington Tribune. In Wales, there was also widespread coverage, including on Wales Online, of ERS research showing fewer than a third of council candidates were women.
In April our report with Prof. Sir John Curtice on how Scottish voters were using STV to express their preferences was covered widely, including by ITV, the Daily Mail, the Independent, Politics.co.uk, the Scottish Express and the Nation in Wales.
Following the Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield by-elections, when there was national media debate about the implications of co-operation between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, ERS research on what PR would have meant for previous General Elections was reported on in the Spectator and Times. The Scotsman also ran an oped from our Director of Campaigns, Willie Sullivan, on how PR could end the scourge of tactical voting.
The ERS has also led on issues such as continued expansion of the Lords and the latest honours lists, with comments on the need to reform the upper chamber in the Financial Times as well as coverage in the Guardian of research showing more than half of the public were opposed to Boris Johnson’s controversial list of new peerages.
Our chief executive, Darren Hughes was also interviewed by the Washington Post for an article explaining to American readers what the House of Lords is and the urgent case for reforming it.
Throughout the summer, the ERS highlighted the growing need for democratic renewal with coverage in the Independent on how the issue needs to be a priority for Keir Starmer in August, as well as calls on the Conservative leadership candidates to restore trust in politics, covered in the Mirror.
Over the Summer, the ERS was also focused on supporting colleagues in the trade union movement and Labour to successfully pass pro-PR motions in the union Unison in June and then at the Labour Party in September. We worked with partner organisations such as Politics for the Many and Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND) to coordinate a series of op-eds ahead of the respective conferences to powerfully make the case for electoral reform, such as in Labour List and in the Observer.
More recently, the ERS has researched and commented on the prospect of Liz Truss issuing a resignation honours list after just six weeks in office. Our comments that peerages cannot be “rewards for failure” were covered by the Mirror, Sunday Times, Daily Mail, i News, as well a wide range of regional titles. The ERS has also been at the forefront of keeping the debate going on the incoming voter ID requirement as part of the Elections Act. In October our comments on the need for mirrors and screens to be bought into polling stations were carried in the Mirror and i paper.
In Wales, ERS Cymru has also featured prominently in coverage of democratic issues, such as the Welsh Government’s plans to expand the Senedd, replace AMS with a more proportional voting list system and introduce statutory gender quotas, which was announced earlier this year. ERS Cymru’s director Jess Blair has featured on Wales Online as well as the BBC’s Walescast podcast and ITV’s Sharp End debate programme discussing the proposals.
Elsewhere, ERS Cymru has led on wider democratic reforms in the country, including pilots to increase voter turnout covered by the BBC and improving the teaching of democratic issues in schools.
Meanwhile, in Scotland the ERS has been raising the salience of democratic issues. This has included being quoted on the need to clean up ‘dark’ political money in Scottish politics, covered in the Times, and also on how to improve Scottish local democracy, which has been covered in the Herald and the Times.
Number of media hits Nov 2021 – October 2022
Almost 2,000 news and comment pieces mentioned the ERS’s work in 2022, this was driven by our work furthering the cause of electoral reform in the UK as well as campaigning for a more democratic House of Lords.
This compares to roughly 1,000 mentions in the previous year. The main drivers of hits was coverage of ERS work at three main points in the year. The highest was news Liz Truss was planning a ‘rewards for failure’ resignation honours list after fewer than 50 days in power (which generated more than 400 mentions), followed by news Boris Johnson was due to inflate the size of the Lords further with his own resignation list (generating more than 200 mentions) and the news Labour had passed a pro-PR motion at its conference (generating just under 200 mentions).