2023 at the ERS: Getting our issues in the Press

Electoral Reform Society,

Posted on the 26th November 2023

Each year we write an Annual Report which looks back at our achievements across the last 12 months, and explains how our team have campaigned towards securing our vision for a democracy fit for the 21st Century.

By using our voice in the media, developing in-depth research and policy, campaigning and influencing and making the case online we’ve led the charge for reform in 2023.

Read the full Annual Report for 2023: Our Year Campaigning for Change

ERS in the Press

It has been busy year for the ERS, as we’ve won a lot of media attention on our issues across 2023. Our team have worked with journalists across national and local media to provide in-depth analysis, opinion pieces and interviews, to make the case for electoral reform and push vital democratic issues higher up the news agenda to increase public support.

Our Chief Executive Darren Hughes featured in The Times

The year started with our Director of Research and Policy Dr Jess Garland appearing as the solo guest for a 30 min podcast with the New Statesman in January, to discuss the growing support for proportional representation in the Labour party. That month we also provided a quote from Jess for a Guardian front page story on how one in 10 Tory peers have donated more than £100,000 to the Lords. The latter started a year with growing media interest in the Lords in part due to the honours lists of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

That interest continued as Jess’ comments were picked up in a Sky News investigation into a peer’s undisclosed financial interests. In March, we pitched our Chief Executive Darren Hughes for an op-ed on how the Lords has become a ‘drag anchor’ on our democracy in the Times Red Box and in April the Sunday Mirror ran ERS commissioned polling showing that the majority of the public are against Liz Truss getting a resignation honours list.

Director of Policy and Research, Jess Garland was featured in the Guardian discussing voter ID

From early in the year, the media interest in the potential impacts of voter ID on the May local elections grew, and the ERS appeared on leading outlets to sound the alarm over the damaging policy. We put forward ERS spokespeople and won coverage in numerous print pieces, from the Mirror, to the Financial Times, BBC and Telegraph. Jess Garland also featured in the Guardian with an opinion piece highlighting how the new rules were a threat to our democracy. Alongside this, ERS spokespeople appeared on flagship news programmes, with Darren appearing on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and Kay Burley’s sofa on Sky News. Meanwhile, we organised for Jess Garland to appear on a marathon session in a BBC studio for various local news stations, all of which managed to lift the issue to the top of the news agenda.

The ERS continued to raise the issue after the local elections to highlight the damage voter ID wrought, with Jess Garland quoted in a BBC investigation into the number of people turned away and the Director of ERS Scotland, Willie Sullivan sounding the warning on Good Morning Scotland as to the impact it could have on the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election as well as the General Election. The Director of ERS Cymru, Jess Blair also discussed the potential impact of voter ID in Wales on the BBC’s Radio Breakfast Wales.

During the summer, interest reforming the House of Lords continued with the i newspaper doing a long read on the options for reform, in which Jess Garland was quoted. In August, we secured a slot for Darren to appear as the sole guest on the Bunker podcast to discuss in-depth the case for reform and making the Lords an elected chamber.

Out Director (ERS Cymru), Jess Blair discusses the size of the Senedd with ITV’s Sharp End

In Wales, ERS Cymru has led the discussion on reform to the Senedd, with Jess Blair appearing on Sky News, the BBC and Nation Cymru, among others, to make the case for the expanded Senedd as well as automatic voter registration. Jess also appeared on ITV’s Sharp End in September to discuss the Senedd reforms.

Likewise, in Scotland, the ERS team has been influencing the media to broaden Scotland’s political debate with its on Beyond the Binary work. This year we held the second State of Democracy lecture, now an annual event in the Scottish political calendar. This year Lesley Riddoch delivered a lecture on local democracy, with an op-ed on the lecture in the Scotsman. Willie was also quoted in April in a Ferret investigation into the number of lobbying meetings not being recorded in the transparency register at Holyrood.

Media Hits

The ERS was mentioned in just over 1,000 news and comment pieces over 2023 to date. This is a good result, although not as high as 2022 – a year that saw a couple of high-volume events, such as comment on Liz Truss’s honours list being picked up by the PA news wire and coverage of Boris Johnson’s Lords appointments. The majority of our mentions this year came in the April and May period when interest in voters ID was at its most intense.

Support the ERS

As momentum builds for electoral reform, your support is more important than ever. Members support our work in parliament, in the press and at conferences like this one – making the case, and backing it up – for how we can fix Westminster’s broken system.

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