Scandal and crisis at the heart of government have dominated the news as we begin 2022. Yet in a packed news cycle of covid regulation breaking parties in Downing Street, and a pantomime-esque will-they-won’t-they over MPs triggering a no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson, we still managed to cut through the noise and highlight some dangerous threats to our democracy.
Defending our Democracy against the Elections Bill
The Government’s elections bill has continued to dominate our work, and debates and discussion around democracy in the media this month.
The bill, which passed through the House of Commons this month, saw widespread coverage as campaigners, politicians and experts spoke out against ministers’ plans for our democracy.
The Independent covered our call for MPs to resist the bill before the vote in Parliament, setting out how damaging to our democracy the plans will be. Our warnings were also covered by the Daily Record, the National and local and regional press across the country.
Our spokespeople also took to the airways to discuss the bill with Chief Executive Darren Hughes sitting down with Times Radio, Dr Jess Garland talking to Talk Radio and BBC Essex and, in Wales, Jess Blair spoke to ITV on the risks of imposing ID requirements on our elections that represent a ‘major blow to democracy’
The ERS’ work has shaped the debate around many of the policies set out in the bill, from voter ID to the imposition of the First Past the Post on elections for Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners – with politicians and experts quoting our work extensively.
From Crossbench Peer and former Head of the Home Civil Service Lord Kerslake, citing our warnings that scrapping the use of the Supplementary Vote will “only serve to disempower votes” in his column in the Local Government Chronicle, Plaid MS Rhys ab Owen in Wales Online to Claudia Webbe MP in the Morning Star the ERS analysis has continually been drawn upon by those opposing this dangerous bill.
Calling for reform to our politics
Elsewhere the Lords were back in the news as calls mounted for reform of the second chamber. Darren Hughes made the case for better regional representation in an elected upper house on BBC News and Dr Jess Garland spoke with Times Radio on the longstanding need for a radical shakeup to end the role of unelected lawmakers in our parliament.
We continued to speak out against dark money and for more transparency over who funds our politics in the Sunday Times, as new questions arose over the funding of campaign groups in Scotland.
Our work in Wales was covered in Wales Online with the launch of a new Open University film staring ERS Cymru’s Jess Blair, exploring the growth of misinformation and disinformation in Wales, and their damaging impact on democracy.
Our will work will continue to challenge the government on its plans for our election to ensure the voice of voters is heard loud and clear through the press before any reforms are signed into law.
You can help get the case for reform in front of millions by supporting the work of the ERS media team – with membership of the ERS.
Become a member of the ERS today.