ERS is the Press: May 2019

Jon Narcross, former Communications Officer

Posted on the 5th June 2019

In a month that began and ended with elections for local councils and the European Parliament – both of which showed the changing nature of British politics and the continued decline of the two main parties we’ve been making the case for rebuilding our politics and creating a fairer, more representative democracy.


As the local election results came in our research into uncontested seats gained further coverage local areas where voters were denied their chance to have a say – namely Rutland and Stamford and Kirklees and Darren Hughes appeared on ITV Central to discuss the issue in the region.

During the elections the government continued to push ahead with its damaging voter ID plans – conducting a second round of trials during May’s local elections.

We highlighted the damaging effects of voter ID in The Guardian, the Independent, Local Government Chronicle, FE News and Hollyrood Magazine as well as locally in the Braintree and Witham Times as we saw 800 voters turned away from polling stations on election day.

We’ve also commented on other areas of voter reform this month with Darren Hughes appearing on Sky news to argue that compulsory voting might not be the answer to our democratic problems and BBC Radio Wales to make the case for votes at 16.

As the Brexit Party broke through in the European elections our previous research on the way FPTP holds smaller parties back and gives the Labour and The Conservatives an advantage in seats was referenced in the New Statesman.

APPG Electoral Campaign Transparency

The Wild West of digital campaigning continued to attract attention as the ERS joined with other campaign groups to support the launch of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Electoral Campaign Transparency whose launch was covered by the Huffington Post, New European and Holyrood magazine.

Following calls for an investigation into the Brexit Party’s online fundraising we led calls for a re-think in our campaign regulations in the Guardian and the Scotsman and warned against the influence of ‘dark money in the Mirror and saw coverage of our Wild West report in the Express and Star.

Darren Hughes was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme about how these digital campaign and donation regulations need to change.

Beyond Brexit / Polling

This month we launched a brand-new report – Westminster Beyond Brexit: Ending the Politics of Division – setting out a bold vision for how we can build a better democracy where power is dispersed across political institutions and citizens are empowered and engaged. Dr Jess Garland wrote about the research for Democratic Audit. Willie Sullivan wrote for the Scotsman that ‘now is the time to grasp the nettle, to rebuild our democracy on stronger and fairer foundations.’

The report came as we published new polling showing that 67% of people feel they have very few or no opportunities to inform and influence decisions taken at Westminster – the polling was covered on PoliticsHome, Local Government Chronicle, and The Canary.

PR Westminster

With polling showing ever-increasing fragmentation in our politics and the two main parties now polling at less than 40% the case for PR in Westminster has returned to the fore. Darren Hughes took part in a debate on PR for Economia and our analysis of voters increasingly divided support for parties was covered in the Scotsman.

Politics for the Many

Politics for the Many – the trade union campaign for political reform announced a major conference to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre with an announcement in the Morning Star. The call for the progressives to get behind the call for a real democracy was covered in Red Pepper.

House of Lords

A new investigation by the Guardian has once again highlighted the disgrace of our undemocratic chamber and the expense claims and business interests of unelected peers with Willie Sullivan commenting ““This is a rolling scandal in the Lords that shows no signs of ending.” In coverage of the investigation in the Independent, I News and Wales Online.

Willie also spoke to Talk Radio about how the Lords must be reformed to regain the legitimacy these scandals have destroyed.

Last, but certainly not least, Jess Blair spoke to Wired about the broken politics of Eurovision and how to fix the contests broken voting system.

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