Looking back on the past year, there’s a strong sense of achievement at the issues the ERS has been able to raise – and we are equipped with stronger arguments than ever for reform.
It has been an honour to take over from Katie Ghose as Chief Executive in July. Katie showed me the importance of having a solid organisational basis to pursue our political strategy, and of providing real leadership to the Society. We know she will continue to be a friend to our cause in the years ahead.
Our thanks to all the partner organisations and individuals we have worked with over the year, to those who generously provided funding either through grants or kind donations, and to our members and supporters who remind us why our cause is so important.
A big thanks to those ERS members who have served on the Council over the 2015-2017 term for your commitment, advice and governance of our organisation – and a very warm welcome to those joining the Council for these crucial two years ahead.
Our staff are first rate, and it is a pleasure to work with so many talented people. I’m sure members and supporters would join me in thanking the office teams in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.
As this report shows, the ERS has responded to the changing political environment with energy and dynamism. The General Election dominated the year, as did the consequences of the Brexit referendum vote in 2016.
In addition, we saw local elections in Scotland – the third time the Single Transferable Vote was successfully used to provide voters with more choice and a stronger voice. We are working hard to ensure that the one-party state councils seen in England and Wales are also a thing of the past.
Our continuing campaign on House of Lords reform remains an important way of demonstrating just how deep the need for change goes – with it all linking in to our wider push for a fairer, proportionally-elected Parliament.
Debates in the House of Commons on voting reform, Votes at 16 and democratising the House of Lords this year offered us the chance to build even better links with Parliamentarians and their researchers, and to identify new supporters.
Our work in the nations of the UK continues to be a strong feature of ERS activity, and makes us a unique voice as democratic commentators.
We continued to lift our profile in Northern Ireland, and launched exciting initiatives in deliberative democracy in both Scotland and Wales. We were also partners in a landmark Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit held in Manchester in the autumn.
This year also saw us make significant strides in our support among trade unions. We are working hard to translate that support into policy positions, with the aim of winning new allies in the campaign for Labour to back fair votes.
With a refreshed staff team and council, a new visual brand, ammunition from three failed First Past the Post general elections in a row, and work to start a new home for the Society, 2018 is shaping up to be an important year for the organisation and the campaign for a better democracy.
Read our Annual Report for 2017