Our major milestones in 2022
Labour backs Proportional Representation at Conference
Convincing Labour to make a cultural shift and become a party that supports Electoral Reform is an integral part of our theory of change as laid out in our strategic plan. In September of this year we made historic progress towards that end. This was the culmination of many years of building a campaign for PR within the Trade Union movement (Politics for the Many) and of being part of the Labour for a New Democracy Coalition, the group that organised so skilfully within Labour to build support in branches and in constituencies and to position PR as a winnable option.
Over the last year we have worked closely with Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND), the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform and Politics for the Many to build up support ahead of the successful vote on the pro-PR motion at the Labour conference in September. Throughout the year we worked to create a compelling communications campaign to build support for PR in and outside the Labour Party.
We worked closely with all three organisations before and during the Labour conference to build the case for PR in Labour facing media. During the conference we also worked closely with L4ND to provide comms support, briefing journalists and supporting digital comms, before and after the successful vote. After years of testing and developing messaging linking PR to wider problems of representation and lack of equality in the UK, these arguments were repeated back at Labour Conference.
The highly impressive work of L4ND at conference ensured that the composite motion remained the strongest possible including a commitment to have PR in the Labour manifesto. It was passed by an overwhelming show of hands.
Only USDAW and GMB Trade Unions voted against the motion. The two big unions who had recently switched policies, Unite and Unison, voted for the motion with Unite speaking in favour. This was following years of work by Politics for the Many building support from the branch levels up in the Trade Unions.
UNISON Vote and Politics For The Many
Unison changing their policy to support PR was another historic first this year. It opened the door to victory at Labour conference and keeps us on track for further progress in the months to come. Politics for the Many was a campaign set up in 2018 by active trade unionists and supported by ERS. It has been steadily building support for our cause with Unite changing policy last year.
A programme of highly intensive work this year was aimed at the 2022 Unison national policy conference. This work included a concerted campaign to build a database of contacts within the Union at branch level by phone rounds, recruiting supporters and connecting them to each other, organising over 12 branches to submit policy motions on PR, targeted communications on social media, and in blogs and opeds, and events to help solidify support.
At Conference we had a stall, leafleting campaign and held an event for delegates. The PR motion itself was placed well down the agenda but a concerted effort by the campaign meant that the vote was prioritised, voted on and passed by around 80% of the conference.
Senedd (Welsh Parliament) Reform
We have been campaigning for nearly a decade to see a reformed Senedd (Welsh Parliament) and this year saw the biggest progress yet. A deal between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru and a separate cross-party committee report finally saw proposals pass the Senedd to increase its size from 60 members to 96, change its voting system to a proportional list system and integrate measures to ensure gender equality into this new system.
This has been a long time coming. Back in 2013 we published our Size Matters report, making the case for a larger Senedd. Since then we’ve worked closely with political parties, meeting Senedd members and party leaders, working with constituency parties and giving evidence to a number of committees on the subject.
Last year we aimed to get the parties to commit to reform in their manifestos ahead of the 2021 election, and three of the four parties returned to the Senedd did so. We are now expecting the Welsh Government to publish legislation reforming the Senedd by the end of next year and these changes to come into effect for the next election in 2026.