The ERS team at a historic Labour Conference

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive

Posted on the 5th October 2022

The campaign for fair votes recently achieved a historic victory when Labour Party Conference voted for a manifesto commitment to proportional representation for general elections.

This is a massive moment for democracy in the UK. Now members of all major parties, bar the Conservatives, are united on the need for electoral reform and committed to delivering a fair electoral system where every vote counts.

Having a presence at the major party conferences is a key activity in our campaigning work and at this year’s Labour Conference, this was more important than ever. Here, I wanted to show you behind the scenes at the work our team were doing on the ground at Labour Conference this year.


ERS team celebrate

L-R, the ERS' Public Affairs Officer, Head of Communications, Press Officer, Membership Officer, and Director of Policy and Research celebrate the historic vote on the conference floor.

Party conferences provide us with plenty of opportunities to get our issues in front of people that can make a difference. Across a typical conference, we host fringe events to generate key discussions on our issues, meet with key stakeholders in the party and MPs, and come together with our allies from across the movement to make the case to vote in favour of fair votes.

ERS Team at Labour Conference

L-R our Public Affairs Officer, Membership Officer, myself and the Director of Policy and Research

I led a strong ERS team to Labour conference in Liverpool, including our director of policy and research, senior director, press officers and public affairs officer.

Conference started on Saturday, with a fringe hosted by Labour for a New Democracy and Politics for the Many, Calling time on Westminster: why our electoral system drags the UK down. Labour for a New Democracy is a coalition campaigning for the next Labour government to introduce Proportional Representation and Politics for the Many is focused on winning over trade unions – we’ve supported both organisations work from the beginning and sit on their steering groups. Our Director of Policy and Research, Dr Jess Garland joined the panel to provide the latest research to back up the case.

The next day we attended Labour for a New Democracy’s Rally for PR. It was great to hear from many different speakers who all passionately were making their case for fair votes – speakers included John McDonnell MP, Nadia Whittome MP, Stephen Kinnock MP, plus many more campaigners from across the movement.

Rally for PR

Labour for a New Democracy's Rally for Proportional Representation

The ERS hosted two fringe events this year. The first was a drinks reception, hosted alongside DEMOS, where we heard a brilliant discussion on how we can build a better democracy. Working with partners means we can talk to party members who aren’t already convinced about the need for PR. It was great to hear contributions from David Lammy MP, ERS’ Director of Policy and Research, Dr Jess Garland, Unlock Democracy’s Tom Brake and Jessie Joe Jacobs from the Democracy Network. The social nature of the event meant that the ERS team could spread out and talk to members, councillors and prospective parliamentary candidates directly.

For the second event we were joined by a packed room of attendees for a panel that we hosted alongside IPPR, where we heard from David Lammy MP, Thangham Debbonaire MP and Dr Hannah White from the Insitute for Government on discussions around how we can renew democracy in an age of authoritarians. Panels like this allow us to discuss how proportional representation can help solve problems in the real world.

IPPR event at Labour Conference

IPPR and ERS fringe event

In between these events we squeezed in as many meetings with Labour figures as we could, and grabbed every opportunity to talk to those who were not yet convinced.

Labour for a New Democracy did a fantastic job coordinating delegates for the debate on PR itself while our press team co-ordinated the media around the event. Delegate after delegate stood up to make the case for why the Labour party should back reforms, and with the support of the unions, the mood in the room was obvious.

I could not be prouder of the work of the team over the last year that has led up to this momentous vote. Labour members and the affilated unions have clearly stated their rejection of the status quo and desire to move to a fairer political system.

Support the ERS

As momentum builds for electoral reform, your support is more important than ever. Members support our work in parliament, in the press and at conferences like this one – making the case, and backing it up – for how we can fix Westminster’s broken system.

Join the ERS today

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