ERS in the Press – January 2024

Hannah Camilleri, Communications Officer

Posted on the 18th January 2024

Despite being one of our country’s shortest ever Prime Ministers Liz Truss dominated the headlines over the festive period. The ERS press team were ready and waiting to get our arguments around the House of Lords into the coverage.

The team are always on the lookout to get our issues into the press, giving stories to journalists based on our original research, sending out comments on current affairs, and writing letters and opinion editorials for leading publications.

The Liz Truss List – making the case for Lords reform

The Government provoked controversy when it chose to sneak out Truss’ long-awaited resignation honours list in a strategically timed announcement on the 29th of December. The ERS has long been at the forefront of advocating for reform to the House of Lords so our arguments on why the Truss list was a blow to democratic principles were heavily featured across the coverage.

The BBC, in the most read article of the day, carried our quote from Willie Sullivan – our Director of Campaigns. He highlighted that the power to make appointments to the House of Lords was an insult to many, following the effect of the disastrous ‘mini-budget’ and its effect on the nation’s and families finances.

The Observer also carried our quote from Willie and focused on the fact that Peers are given a lifelong power to legislate for the British people with the privilege of very little public scrutiny. Our continued pressure on the issue is paying off, as the article also highlighted Labour’s plans to not issue a resignation Honours list if Keir Starmer became Prime Minister.

We also got our Director of Research & Policy, Dr. Jess Garland, on to Channel Four, Sky News and BBC Breakfast bulletins to discuss the appointments. In her interviews, Jess said it was unrealistic to expect forPrime Ministers not to use their extensive powers to install people in the House of Lords. She made the case that power needs to be in the hands of the people and advocated for a fully elected second chamber.

Campaign finance reform – a missed opportunity

Late last year, the regulations on finances were vastly extended as political parties now have a budget of £35 Million to spend in the run up to elections. We used these changes to get campaign finances back in the media spotlight.

We made the case that the new regulations missed the opportunity to improve the transparency of campaigning finances. The new budgets risk damaging public confidence in elections and our democracy as there are still many shady loopholes for party donations to be made anonymously. The ERS advocates for transparency in political financing as voters should be able to access information about who is paying for political advertising in an attempt to sway their vote.

We achieved some coverage in the Mirror on this issue following their investigation revealing that Rishi Sunak has outspent the Trump campaign on targeted Facebook advertising. Dr. Jess Garland was quoted in this article highlighting that the new rules are not done with voters and democracy in mind. Instead, that those few voters who live in target seats for each party will be bombarded with ads whilst those in safe seats remain ignored.

In a year so crucial to our democracy, the ERS will continue to campaign for both an elected House of Lords and greater transparency in political funding.

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.

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