Making the case for electoral reform at Conservative Conference

Mike Wright, Head of Communications

Posted on the 5th October 2023

As a non-partisan organisation, we attend all the major party conferences to make the case for electoral reform. There is a long history of electoral reform supporters in the Conservative Party, with Conservative Action for Electoral Reform (CAER) existing since 1974. As such, we went up to Manchester to talk to candidates, councillors and activists at the conference.

There was a fractious mood at Conservative conference as prospective leadership candidates manoeuvred in plain sight while Rishi Sunak attempted to set out his vision for the country ahead of next year’s election. As such, many discussions at conference were dominated by the topic of what the Conservative party will look like after the next election and the future direction it will head in.

Reforming the Lords

The Electoral Reform Society had a strong presence at the conference in Manchester advancing the case for political and electoral reform. On the Monday we supported our partners at Conservative Action for Electoral Reform (CAER) and their fringe event discussing what a reformed House of Lords may look like.

Among the speakers were Lord Robert Hayward, who talked about the important work the upper chamber carries out revising legislation as well as Chris Clarkson MP, who mooted a number of models for reform. The tenor of the discussion was the current ever-expanding Lords cannot continue as it is and the Conservative Party needs to seriously engage with the debate around reform, especially now Labour has pledged to abolish the current unelected Lords and replace it with a smaller elected chamber.

Reforming elections

On the Tuesday we also supported the CAER fringe on the case for reforming the country’s electoral system. Among the speakers was London Assembly member Emma Best, who argued the Conservative Party should not shy away from the debate and back efforts for give the UK and fairer and more representative voting system. We also heard impassioned cases for electoral reform from partners in Make Votes Matter and Unlock Democracy.

The conference finished with even Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arguing “there is the undeniable sense that politics just doesn’t work the way it should” and “Westminster is a broken system”. The case the ERS and partners were making at conference is the best way to make politics better serve voters is to accurately represent them in parliament, and that only happens with a fairer proportional voting system.

Find out more about CAER

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