ERS in the Press – June 2020

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 2nd July 2020

It’s been a month of wins, as campaigning secured a u-turn on the shut down of virtual proceedings in Parliament, while Labour introduced proportional representation for internal elections AND votes at 16/17 was formally introduced in Wales.

Meanwhile we kept the pressure up on crucial electoral reforms, with steam building all the time…

Virtual Parliament u-turn

Throughout June, we kept up the pressure to maintain virtual proceedings in Parliament, to ensure MPs were not locked out of standing up for voters due to the pandemic.

We saw wall-to-wall coverage for our criticism of the shut down of virtual proceedings, describing the ‘conga line’ voting queues as ‘beyond a farce’. It was picked up everywhere from the Metro, to the Evening Standard, the Mail, and in the international press.

Under pressure, the government switched tack and introduced electronic voting machines, while extending proxy voting for vulnerable MPs and those with caring responsibilities.

Voter ID

As ministers confirmed plans to plough ahead with controversial mandatory voter ID plans, we brought together a coalition of equality groups that warned of the government ‘importing of US-style voter suppression’ to Britain.

We were also quoted in PoliticsHome, noting that with no evidence of ‘personation’ fraud,  voter ID is a solution without a problem.

Progress on STV

Throughout June we campaigned with Fair Internal Labour Elections and Open Labour to secure a switch to proportional representation for internal Labour elections. This was passed by the ruling National Executive Committee, in a real win for members that could help move Labour towards backing PR for Westminster. Encouragingly, the move was also featured in the Guardian, HuffPost and more.

Votes at 16 victory

June saw a big win in Wales as 16/17 year olds officially secured the vote, following campaigning from ourselves and youth campaigners, as covered by ITV, Nation.Cymru and local outlets.

More stories

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, commented on revelations in the Times that big donors were funnelling money to parties from tax havens: “There are major loopholes that must be addressed, to tip the scales back in favour of voters in the UK,” Darren said.

We also responded to news that 30 more unelected legislators, many of them former aides and party donors, could be put in the Lords this year, with a featured letter in the Times.

And we renewed the campaign for an overhaul of Britain’s outdated campaign rules, noting there’s a “near-total lack of regulation of online political advertising”, and no single national database of online ads.

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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