2023 at the ERS: Party conference season report

Author:
Lizzie Lawless, Membership and Digital Officer

Posted on the 30th 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

Why do we go to party conferences, and what do we do there?

Having a presence at the major party conferences is a key activity in our campaigning work. Party conferences provide us with plenty of opportunities to get our issues in front of people that can make a difference. Across a typical conference we host fringe events to generate top level discussions on our issues, meet with key stakeholders in the party and MPs, and come together with our allies from across the movement to make the case for fair votes.

Rob Richie and Darren Hughes at Lib Dem Conference
Rob Richie and Darren Hughes at Lib Dem Conference

Liberal Democrats

At the Liberal Democrat conference, we held a packed event on how electoral reform has been achieved around the globe, with our Chief Executive Darren in conversation with Fair Vote US’s Rob Richie. We also spoke on the panel in a fringe event held by Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform (LDER), on how reforming the electoral system can been couched in the wider need for democratic reform, which is a theme gaining traction in the national political debate. The latter event also had speakers from Unlock Democracy, Make Votes Matter and Compass, as well as MP Christine Jardine.

Read more about our team’s work at Liberal Democrat conference.

Conservative Action for Electoral Reform
Conservative Action for Electoral Reform

Conservative

For the Conservative conference in Manchester, we supported and worked closely with Conservative Action for Electoral Reform (CAER) to raise the profile of electoral reform in the party. To this end, we co-hosted a fringe event on reforming the House of Lords, which was well attended and lead to discussion about different forms of electoral systems that could be used in both houses of Parliament. We also supported a second fringe held by CAER with speakers from Unlock Democracy and Make Votes Matter, as well as Emma Best AM from the London Assembly.

Read more about our team’s work at Conservative conference.

Darren Hughes and Mick Antoniw at Labour Conference
Darren Hughes and Mick Antoniw at Labour Conference

Labour

At Labour Party conference we teamed up with Demos for a fringe featuring Professor Sir John Curtice who gave an overview of the current political climate with ERS on the panel responding with what this means for electoral reform. We also held a fringe event jointly with the Institute for Government focused on the constitutional issues of PR with Mick Antoniw, Counsel General for Wales and Minister for the Constitution, discussing the benefits of PR in Wales and Darren describing the change in New Zealand. You can listen to this panel discussion in full here. These highly popular events were standing-room only and gave us a great opportunity to talk about the benefits of PR and democratic reform. We also continued to support the work of Labour for a New Democracy at Labour conference, contributing to events and rallies for PR.

Read more about our team’s work at Labour party conference.

Scotland

We continue to have a strong presence at Scottish party conferences too, this year running a number of well-received fringes at SNP, Scottish Labour, Scottish Lib Dems and Scottish Greens as well as working with CAER to network at Scottish Conservatives. To pick just two of the highlights, at SNP we could have filled a room twice the size with our event on reforming local democracy, while at Scottish Lib Dems we held an ‘in conversation’ between our colleague Jonathon Shafi and their leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

Read more about our team’s work at SNP conference.

Read more about our team’s work at Scottish Greens’ conference.

We held the second annual State of Scottish Democracy lecture, which we hope will become a fixture in the Scottish political calendar, providing a much-needed health check of Scottish democracy and institutions at a local and national level. This year’s lecture was delivered by Lesley Riddoch, who trailed the lecture with a piece in the Scotsman, and had a particular focus on local democracy and innovative uses of citizen-based decision-making.

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.

Click here to become an ERS Member from just £2 a month

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