Building a better democracy – 2018 and the Electoral Reform Society

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive

Posted on the 10th December 2018

As a sense of crisis dominates national life, electoral reformers offer an alternative to the way we do politics in the UK. The shadow of the last three general elections is cast wide over Westminster, a voting system that no longer works on its own terms.

The Society has energetically pointed out these failings.  We draw on our strategic goals for this parliament – building alliances for electoral reform; deepening public involvement in democracy; winning victories for voters – which have driven our work this year and the team will look for further opportunities in 2019.

The ERS have been at the forefront of calls for a fairly-elected House of Lords in 2018 – stymying attempts to make the debate solely about the size of the chamber.

Throughout the year, we held the government to account for their mandatory voter ID plans – a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ as we termed it, making it a top election issue in the May locals.

We know this touched a nerve given ministers’ frequent responses.

Pioneering work among trade unions has helped make democratic reform a talking point in the labour movement, paving the way for substantive change in 2019 and beyond.

In Scotland, the ERS have played a major role shaping the government’s local democracy review, putting deliberative democracy at the heart of it through their Democracy21 conference, the inspiring Act as if We Own the Place project and through direct meetings with ministers. It is safe to say this work will have a lasting impact on the future of local government in Scotland.

And in Wales, ERS Cymru has driven the legislative agenda, ensuring votes at 16 and 17 will be a reality for Wales’ young people and making steps towards a fairer local voting system. At the same time, ERS Cymru have been tirelessly working to improve the democratic debate: tackling abuse in politics through their New Voices research and ensuring young people shape their own political education.

All this work is only possible through the help of thousands of members and supporters, our hard-working elected council, and a staff team dedicated to securing real democracy. With your support, we can look forward to taking on the challenges and opportunities of 2019.

Read this year's Annual Report

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