Five times the ERS set the news agenda in 2020

Jon Narcross, former Communications Officer

Posted on the 13th January 2021

Despite the difficulties of 2020, the ERS kept up the pressure and make the case for political reform in a crowded news cycle.

From promoting our key campaigns through our analysis of the 2019 election and making the case for reform of the Lords, to responding to the threats to our democracy posed by the coronavirus pandemic – we made sure political reform was on the agenda.

Overall more than 1,000 news and comment pieces mentioned the ERS’ work in 2020 with major outlets including the Daily Mail, Guardian, BBC and Express covering our analysis. Here are some of the highlights.

Calling time on our broken voting system

In February, our landmark general election report was featured prominently, with Sky News and the Independent showing how millions of voters were systematically ignored by First Past the Post in December’s election and highlighting the case for real reform.

Throughout the year we continued to make the case for electoral reform with Darren Hughes spoke to the newly-launched Times Radio for a full programme on the need for PR, while backing STV for the second chamber on the BBC and Sky.

Shining a light on digital campaigning

In September, our Democracy in the Dark report revived the debate about Britain’s out-dated campaign rules.

The report hit the headlines on the BBC news homepagethe Mirror and in the Independent as well as getting a mention in the House of Commons. Darren Hughes wrote about the report’s findings for whilst the report’s authors Dr Katharine Dommett and Dr Sam Power shared their findings with a piece for ConservativeHome and BBC Radio Scotland pouring pressure on the government to reform our outdated campaign laws.

In October, the Scottish government announced it would be introducing imprints for Scottish elections in May 2021, another step forward. On the 7th January 2021, this came into force – and Westminster must follow suit.

Standing up for democracy during covid-19

Despite the pandemic dominating the headlines, the ERS got our pro-voter messages far and wide. We were among the first to call for virtual proceedings, and won change through our public pressure and media work over the summer after our calls were backed my MPs. When we branded plans to force MPs back ‘beyond a farce’, that phrase led the headlines picked up everywhere from the Metro, to the Evening Standard, the Mail, and in the international press too and led to a partial government U-turn.

Demanding reform to our unelected second chamber

It’s been another year yet more appointments to our bloated House of Lords so it was no surprise that hundreds of thousands of people signed our petition calling for a PR-elected second chamber. We hit the headlines in December when Johnson’s latest round of appointments took the chamber to nearly 830 members with our calls for reform covered in the Times, the Express and beyond.

We continued to reach new audiences through this campaign – whether that’s interviews in GQ or with a year-long blitz of coverage in the Daily Express

Opposing mandatory voter ID

We continued our campaign against mandatory voter ID, speaking out when the government announced their plans to roll it out nationwide.

As ministers confirmed plans to plough ahead with controversial 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.

The ERS continues to be Britain’s go-to commentator on political reform – all with one message: it’s time to drag UK politics into the 21st century, so all voters can be fairly heard at last.


We didn’t get this coverage by sitting around and waiting for journalists to call, but through proactive work from our dedicated team. You can help support their work by becoming a member of the ERS today. 

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