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Electoral Reform Society Cymru warns against June EU vote

2nd February 2016
2 Feb 2016

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**Fersiwn yn y Gymraeg yn cael ei yrru cyn hir // Welsh-language version forthcoming**

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society Cymru
  • For immediate release, 13:00, 2nd February 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer (English only), ERS Cymru Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Electoral Reform Society Cymru has warned today (2nd February) that holding the EU referendum in June [1] would risk undermining the upcoming Assembly elections.

The Society believes a June vote – something being mooted today - could overshadow the Welsh elections this May.

Stephen Brooks, Director of Electoral Reform Society Cymru, said:

“An EU referendum vote so soon after the Assembly elections would risk undermining the elections themselves – knocking the debate off course and away from issues which are actually devolved.

“April and May will see the EU debate reaching its peak if the vote was to be held in June – potentially overshadowing the crucial process of Welsh voters choosing their next government.

 “A June EU vote would only serve to add more confusion to an already busy day of elections, with Police and Crime Commissioners also being picked – despite issues of justice and policing not being fully devolved [2].

 “The Welsh Assembly elections get far too little UK-wide attention as it is. Both the Welsh Assembly elections and the EU referendum need clear runs: let’s have genuinely focused discussions about these two important decisions by conducting the campaigns at different times.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12135328/EU-referendum-draft-deal-revealed-by-Donald-Tusk-live.html#update-20160202-0800

[2] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wrong-person-could-elected-assembly-8862675

Electoral Reform Society Cymru yn rhybuddio yn erbyn pleidlais Refferendwm ar Ewrop yn mis Mehefin

2nd February 2016
2 Feb 2016

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  • Datganiad gan y ERS Cymru
  • I'w ryddhau ar unwaith, 13:00, 2 Chwefror 2016
  • Am ragor o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu cyfweliad, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer (Saesneg yn unig), ERS Swyddog Cyfathrebu Cymru, ar 07717211630 neu josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk
  • Neu am ddyfyniadau neu cyfweliadau yn y Gymraeg, cysylltwch â Dr Owain ap Gareth ar 07771661802 neu Owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk

Mae Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru wedi rhybuddio heddiw (2il Chwefror) yn erbyn cynnal y refferendwm ar aelodaeth o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd ym mis Mehefin [1] gan y byddai'n beryg o danseilio etholiadau sydd i ddod i Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru.

Mae'r Gymdeithas yn credu y gall bleidlais yn Mehefin - rhywbeth sy'n cael ei grybwyll heddiw - daflu cysgod dros yr etholiadau Cymreig ym mis Mai, a’r ymgyrch sydd ohoni.

Dywedodd Stephen Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Mae pleidlais refferendwm UE mor fuan ar ôl etholiadau'r Cynulliad yn beryg o danseilio yr etholiadau eu hunain – gan wyro y ddadl oddi ar ei gwrs ac i ffwrdd o faterion sydd wedi'u datganoli.

"Bydd Ebrill a Mai yn gweld y ddadl am Ewrop yn cyrraedd ei anterth pe byddai'r bleidlais i'w gynnal ym mis Mehefin - o bosibl yn rhoi’r broses hanfodol o bleidleiswyr Cymru yn dewis eu llywodraeth nesaf yn y cysgod.

"Byddai pleidlais Ewrop yn Mehefin hefyd yn ychwanegu mwy o ddryswch i ddiwrnod eisoes yn brysur gyda etholiadau, gyda Heddlu a Chomisiynwyr Troseddau hefyd yn cael eu codi - er gwaethaf materion cyfiawnder a phlismona nad yw'n faterion sydd wedi eu datganoli [2].

 "Mae etholiadau'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn cael llawer rhy ychydig o sylw ar draws y DU fel ag y mae. Mae etholiadau Cynulliad Cymru a refferendwm Ewrop angen cyfle clir i gael eu lle ar wahan: gadewch i ni gael trafodaethau â ffocws gwirioneddol am y ddau penderfyniadau pwysig drwy gynnal yr ymgyrchoedd ar adegau gwahanol ".

DIWEDD

Nodiadau i Olygyddion

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12135328/EU-referendum-draft-deal-revealed-by-Donald-Tusk-live.html#update-20160202-0800

[2] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wrong-person-could-elected-assembly-8862675

Electoral Reform Society welcomes ‘red card’ proposal in EU deal

2nd February 2016
2 Feb 2016
Tags: 
EU
Donald Tusk
EU deal
David Cameron
European Union
EU renegotiation

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  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 11:30, 2nd February 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society has welcomed the proposal for national parliaments to have greater veto power over EU laws, under the proposals announced by EU Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday.

A ‘red card’ system – where laws which do not have the support of a majority of national parliaments can be vetoed – was one of the Electoral Reform Society’s key recommendations in its recent report ‘Close the Gap: Tackling Europe’s Democratic Deficit’ [1].

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [2]:

"Those in favour of democratic reform of the EU have long called for this change. Elected parliaments need a much stronger role in EU law-making, and a 'red card' system is a positive step towards that goal. 

“However, the ‘red card’ system shouldn’t just be a tool for Ministers – it should be MPs’ voices that are strengthened too, through real parliamentary debate of EU proposals.

"There are clearly major democratic issues with the EU which both sides of the referendum debate have to confront. Whether we vote to stay or go, today's announcement should be the start of a real debate about Britain's democratic relationship with the EU.

The 'remain' campaign needs to answer serious questions about whether UK citizens are adequately represented at the European level. The 'red card' reform is a good start, but much more needs to be done if we are going to close the gap between British people and the institutions of the European Union [3].

“And there are democratic questions for the 'leave' campaign too. If Britain does vote to leave the EU, how will we ensure that British citizens and their elected government have influence over European issues, especially during what could be a two year transition before a full exit.  After what would be a seismic political change, we would also need a citizen-led constitutional convention of citizens to look at how we move forward as a democracy.

"Today's announcement opens up the debate on Britain's democratic relationship with the EU. We want to see these issues remain at the centre of the referendum campaign. The British people deserve nothing less."

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] In 2014 the ERS published ‘Close the Gap: Tackling Europe’s Democratic Deficit’ which laid out 12 major recommendations on EU democratic reform.

[2] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

[3] Read the full ‘Close the Gap’ report and recommendations here.

ERS Cymru: Wales TV debates need to include all six parties

29th January 2016
29 Jan 2016
Tags: 
ERS Cymru
TV debates
Assembly elections
wales

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***Neges Ddwyieithog: Scroliwch Lawr am y Gymraeg***

***Bilingual Message: Scroll down for Welsh***

 

Electoral Reform Society Cymru is calling on broadcasters in Wales to include all six major parties in their election debates, to make the upcoming broadcasts as inclusive as possible.

While arrangements for the TV elections debates have yet to be decided, Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru say there is a clear case for including six parties in the TV debates, following the UK general election debates last year which featured seven leaders.

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“It’s clear that with six parties in the running for Assembly seats, they should have their voices heard. The public deserve as open and inclusive a debate as possible, especially given that the proportional electoral system means we truly have a multi-party political system in Wales, with a diverse range of viewpoints in the democratic arena. ..

“With the Assembly getting more powers, we need as open a debate as possible, and voters should be given a true representation of the options available in May.

“We call on the broadcasters to look at the success of last year’s Westminster TV debates which drew in millions of viewers because there was a real debate with clear differences of opinion.

“It would be wrong for broadcasters in Wales to exclude the Greens and UKIP, given the fact that their support has grown significantly since the last Assembly elections. Both parties are in the race to secure their first Assembly Members this May – and it’s only right that they should face the scrutiny of the public and other parties.

“Let’s open up these TV debates to reflect the diverse political landscape Wales has today. To exclude serious contenders for seats would be a missed opportunity and would only let down voters here in Wales.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Josiah Mortimer will be working with Electoral Reform Society Cymru in the run up to the Assembly elections in May.

ERS Cymru will be releasing three mini-manifestos ahead of the Assembly elections, as well as polling, research and projections for May.

 

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ERS Cymru: Mae angen i ddadleuon teledu arweinwyr pleidiau Cymru gynnwys pob un o'r chwe plaid

  • Datganiad gan Electoral Reform Society Cymru
  • Embargo hyd nes 00:01, 29 Ionawr, 2016
  • Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu cyfweliad / sylwadau, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer, Swyddog y Wasg ERS Cymru, ar 07717211630 neu josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk.  
  • Am gyfweliadau yn y Gymraeg, cysylltwch â Dr Owain ap Gareth ar 07771 661 802 neu owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk

Mae Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru yn galw ar y darlledwyr yng Nghymru i gynnwys pob un o’r chwe prif blaid yn eu dadleuon ar gyfer etholiad cyffredinol Cymru, er mwyn gwneud yr ymgyrch mor gynhwysol â phosibl.

Er bod y trefniadau ar gyfer yr etholiadau teledu dadleuon i'w benderfynu, mae ERS Cymru yn dweud bod achos clir dros gynnwys chwech plaid yn y dadleuon teledu, yn dilyn dadleuon yr arweinwyr yn etholiad cyffredinol y DU y llynedd a oedd yn cynnwys saith arweinydd.

Dywedodd Steve Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Mae'n amlwg gyda chwe blaid yn y ras i ennill seddi yn y Cynulliad, dylent i gyd gael llais cyfartal. Mae'r cyhoedd yn haeddu dadl mor agored a chynhwysol a phosib, yn enwedig o ystyried bod y system etholiadol gyfrannol yn golygu ein bod gyda system sy’n wirioneddol aml-bleidiol yng Nghymru, gydag amrywiaeth eang o safbwyntiau yn cael eu hadlewyrchu yn yr arena ddemocrataidd Gymreig.

"Gyda'r Cynulliad am ennill mwy o bwerau, mae angen dadl agored, a dylai pleidleiswyr gael syniad o'r opsiynau sydd ar gael iddynt wrth fwrw pleidlais ym mis Mai.

"Rydym yn galw ar y darlledwyr i edrych ar lwyddiant y dadleuon teledu yn San Steffan y llynedd a oedd yn tynnu mewn miliynau o wylwyr oherwydd bod dadl go iawn gyda gwahaniaethau barn clir.

"Byddai'n anghywir i ddarlledwyr yng Nghymru wahardd y Gwyrddion a'r UKIP, o ystyried y ffaith bod eu cefnogaeth wedi tyfu'n sylweddol ers etholiadau diwethaf y Cynulliad. Mae’r ddwy blaid yn y ras i sicrhau eu Haelodau Cynulliad cyntaf y Mai hyn - ac mae hi ond yn iawn iddynt wynebu craffu a scriwtini iawn gan y cyhoedd a gan y pleidiau eraill.

"Gadewch i ni gael trafodaethau teledu gwbl agored i adlewyrchu'r tirwedd wleidyddol amrywiol sydd yng Nghymru heddiw. Mi fyddai gwahardd cystadleuwyr difrifol ar gyfer seddi yn colli cyfle euraidd ac yn gadael pleidleiswyr Cymru i lawr."

Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu darn cyfweliad / sylwadau, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer ar 07717211630 neu josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

DIWEDD

Nodiadau i Olygyddion

Bydd Josiah Mortimer yn gweithio gyda ERS Cymru yn y cyfnod hyd at etholiadau'r Cynulliad ym mis Mai.

Bydd ERS Cymru yn rhyddhau tri mini-maniffesto cyn etholiadau Cynulliad, yn ogystal ag pleidleisio, ymchwil a rhagamcanion ar gyfer mis Mai.                                     

Transparency campaigners welcome Scottish Government commitment to 2-year review of Lobbying (Scotland) Bill

28th January 2016
28 Jan 2016

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  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society Scotland on behalf of Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT)
  • For immediate release 28 January 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Willie Sullivan, ERS Scotland Director, on 07940523842 or Willie.Sullivan@electoral-reform.org.ukAlternatively, contact Katie Gallogly-Swan ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser, on 07930862497 or katie.galloglyswan@electoral-reform.org.uk

Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT) [1] welcomes progress as Scottish Government promises two-year review [2] today (28 January) to consider a stronger Lobbying Register, but warns against leaving ‘lobby loopholes’ for email or contact with senior civil servants.

Willie Sullivan, Director of Electoral Reform Scotland said:

“By ensuring that the framework of the Bill allows for it to be strengthened, the Government has shown a commitment to the ongoing improvement of transparency. However, by not implementing more robust registration now – by including more than just face-to-face communication, communications with SpAds and Civil Servants, and campaign expenditure - the two-year review will be missing crucial information.

“At the Stage 1 debate on 7 January 2016, the Scottish Government disappointed transparency campaigners by showing reluctance to close the loopholes in the Bill, despite recommendations from the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee [3] and overwhelming public support [4]. Their ‘cautious’ approach to the public demand for transparent politics has meant that any lobbying registration process will be missing vital information that could help level the playing field between wealthy, private interests, and community campaigns.

“While the review is important, not including email communications as part of the register makes the legislation out of date long before it is even enacted.”

Steve Goodrich, Senior Research Officer, Transparency International UK:

“We’re pleased to see the Scottish Government promising to review how transparent Scottish politics is after the new lobbying rules have had time to bed in. Westminster should take a leaf from their book. However, this review will be more fruitful if it has more evidence to draw from. That’s why the Scottish Government should introduce transparency now about who’s trying to influence its decisions and officials via email, letter and phone rather than leave it for years down the line. This is a golden opportunity for Holyrood to show Westminster what political openness really is. Ministers should take it rather than letting it pass them by.”

Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy:

"We welcome the commitment to a review of the lobbying register after two years in operation.  However, the government should not miss the opportunity to get it right first time round. The experience of lobbying registers around the world shows that these reviews recommend more, not less transparency. That transparency could start right now with a robust register.

“Lobbyists will always try find loopholes in the rules. Unfortunately, they’ve still got lots to work with in this Bill. Lobbyists should not be able to escape the register simply by talking to politicians on the phone or by email."

Robin McAlpine, Director of Common Weal said:

“It’s really good that the Scottish Government seems to be becoming more and more persuaded on the case for proper transparency over lobbying, not least because of the overwhelming public support. This commitment to an ongoing process to make this better regulation is a genuinely positive sign and as long as the Scottish Government doesn’t allow momentum to be lost after the election it will send out a message to the public that it’s their parliament, not the lobbyists.”

Notes:

[1] The Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT) is an alliance of civil society groups who are concerned about the growing influence of lobbying on decision-making in Scotland. We believe only increased transparency can begin to restore trust in policy making and make ministers, elected representatives, and officials more accountable to the public. 

[2] The Government response can be seen here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_StandardsProceduresandPublicAppointmentsCommittee/Stage_1_response_-_Lobbying_Bill.pdf

[3]In December 2015, SALT commissioned a YouGov poll on public opinion of the three suggestions to strengthen the Bill by:

1.     Expanding the definition of lobbying so multiple modes of communication trigger registration

2.     Expanding the definition so lobbying of civil servants and special advisers triggers registration

3.     Expand the information that should be disclosed by lobbyists to include spending on lobbying

Of those polled, 88% believed that lobbying posed a big or significant risk to the policy-making process, compared to only 12% who said there was not much or no risk. Only 9% said it was enough to have face-to-face meetings between politicians and lobbyists in any lobbying register, whereas 91% believed that the register should include lobbying communications with Special Advisers and Civil Servants. While 13% agreed with the initial Bill that lobbying should include only face-to-face meetings, 87% agreed with the SALT recommendation to include more modes of communication like telephone calls and emails. Most significantly, 92% of those polled supported financial disclosure of lobbying expenditure, with only 8% saying this was not important.

[4] The Committee report can be read here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/94898.aspx

New Lords committee could be first step towards party funding settlement

20th January 2016
20 Jan 2016

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  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 20th January 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society has strongly welcomed a vote by Peers in the House of Lords this afternoon to set up a cross-party committee on party funding reform - amidst growing concern that the Trade Union Bill is far too one-sided in its approach to the issue.

Peers voted this afternoon (5pm) by 327 votes to 234 in favour of Baroness Smith of Basildon’s motion [2] to create a select committee on the party funding elements of the Trade Union Bill which would force union members to ‘opt in’ to unions’ political funds – potentially cutting off up to £6m of Labour’s funding every year [3].

The motion will establish a new committee ‘to consider the impact of clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill [on unions’ Political Funds] in relation to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report, ‘Political Party Finance: ending the big donor culture’’ – a major 2011 report on party funding reform [4].

Peers advocated ‘urgent new legislation to balance those provisions [in the Trade Union Bill] with the other recommendations made in the Committee’s Report’, with the new cross-party select committee set to report by 29 February.

Welcoming the move, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [5]:

“This could be the first step towards a lasting settlement on party funding. As things stand, the current Trade Union Bill could take £6m per year off Labour’s finances, without reforming party funding across the board. We need to clean up the parties’ big donor culture once and for all.”

“Our new polling shows that that 77% of the public think that big donors have too much influence over our politics, and 57% believe that a state-funded political system would be fairer than the one we currently have – up from 41% in 2014 [6]. We need serious cross-party action on this – not tit-for-tat partisan attacks.

“We strongly welcome Peers’ important decision on this Bill and we hope parties engage constructively with this new committee to sort out the mess that is Britain’s party funding system.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes to Editors

In 2014 the ERS published ‘Deal or No Deal: How to put an end to party funding scandals’. Read the full report and recommendations here.

[1] See here http://electoral-reform.org.uk/press-release/trade-union-bill-77-public-think-big-donors-have-too-much-influence-parties

[2] See here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trade-union-bill-lib-dems-to-help-labour-prevent-bill-from-stifling-party-funding-a6816856.html and here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldordpap.htm

[3] More information on how the Trade Union Bill will affect Labour Party funding is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33537550

[4]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228646/8208.pdf

[5] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

[6] Polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 24-27 February 2014, available here: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/GQR%20public%20poll%206%20March%202014(1).pdf

Trade Union Bill: 77% of public think that big donors have too much influence on parties

20th January 2016
20 Jan 2016

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Findings come amid calls for Trade Union Bill to form part of a comprehensive party funding reform deal

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 20th January 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Ahead of a major Parliamentary showdown on the Trade Union Bill, the Electoral Reform Society has released new polling showing that 77% of the public believe big donors have too much influence on political parties [1].

The findings come ahead of a motion in the House of Lords on Wednesday [2] to make the Trade Union Bill – which is expected to result in a £6m per year cut to Labour’s income [3] – form part of a cross-party deal on party funding reform, rather than just affecting Labour.

The Electoral Reform Society is calling on Peers to back the motion to set up a cross-party committee on the Trade Union Bill, so that it can form part of a new settlement on party finances across the board. The motion is backed by Liberal Democrat and Labour Peers and is likely to be backed by a large number of cross-benchers.

The polling released today also shows that 72% of the public agree or strongly agree that the system of party funding is ‘corrupt and should be changed’ – up from 61%when the same question was asked in 2014 [4].

57% also believe that a ‘state-funded political system would be fairer than the one we currently have’ – up from 41% in 2014.

The ERS and others are concerned that the Trade Union Bill is currently one-sided in its approach to reforming Labour’s funding, undermining the convention that party funding matters be dealt with in a multi-party manner.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [5]:

“These findings show that the public are deeply concerned with Britain’s broken party funding model. Party finances in the UK are in dire need of reform, following years of scandals and voters’ rising disgust about the role of money in our politics.

“There is growing appetite for reforming the way parties are funded, and you can see this among people from across the political spectrum. Measures in the Trade Union Bill to ensure union members have to ‘opt in’ to pay into political funds could form part of a fresh settlement.

“However, by targeting Labour and not tackling the issue in the round, the Government is risking decades of parties indulging in tit-for-tat raids on each other’s sources of funds. We need all parties to get around the table and deal with this once and for all. There is no other way of finding a sustainable solution and avoiding accusations of constitutional gerrymandering.

“Now is the time for all parties to get to grips with the mess that is Britain’s party funding system. The fact is that Labour is seen by the public to be at the behest of barons, and the Tories at the behest of bankers. All parties need to tackle the big donor culture which makes party funding an arms race rather than an open democratic process.

“We therefore urge Peers to get behind Wednesday’s motion to set up a cross-party committee on the party funding elements of the Trade Union Bill.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes to Editors

In 2014 the ERS published ‘Deal or No Deal: How to put an end to party funding scandals’. Read the full report and recommendations here.

 [1] Polling by BMG research of 1,504 UK residents aged 18 or over, conducted at the end of October 2015. Full cross-tabs available on request – contact Josiah Mortimer (details above). http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] See here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trade-union-bill-lib-dems-to-help-labour-prevent-bill-from-stifling-party-funding-a6816856.html

[3] More information on how the Trade Union Bill will affect Labour Party funding is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33537550

[4] Polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 24-27 February 2014, available here: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/GQR%20public%20poll%206%20March%202014(1).pdf

[5] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

Carwyn vs Nigel: Both sides need to deal with Europe's democratic deficit, say Electoral Reform Society

8th January 2016
8 Jan 2016

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  • Statement comes as Carwyn Jones and Nigel Farage go head to head on Monday at the Institute of Welsh Affairs
  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 12:00, 7th January 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society have today called for both sides of the EU debate to ‘deal with the democratic deficit Britain faces’ - both within and outside of Europe –ahead of a major debate on Monday at the Institute of Welsh Affairs [1].

The Society is calling for a ‘real debate’ on Britain’s democratic relationship with Europe, beyond simple in/out divides. The ERS says both camps should address arguments around the democratic deficit – whether Britain stays in the European Union or not.

Ahead of the debate, the ERS are making key four key recommendations:

 

1.    Change the voting system for electing MEPs from a ‘closed list’ to an open, candidate-centred electoral system, the Single Transferable Vote

2.    Consensus should be sought with Ministers in the devolved nations on the stances taken by the government during EU policy negotiations

3.    Allow Ministers from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to take part in meetings of the EU’s Council of Ministers

4.    Open up the EU policy-making process to enable  citizens to become more involved

 

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [2]:

“There are clearly major democratic issues with the EU which both sides have to face up to. We need a real debate - beyond simple in/out divides - on Britain’s future, whether that is in or out of Europe.

“Carwyn Jones has in the past raised the issue of the so-called ‘Bridgend Question’ – the fact that in the European Council of Ministers, Britain’s case on for example farming policy is always put by Westminster’s Minister for Agriculture, regardless of whether Welsh, Scottish or Northern Ireland Ministers agree to the line or not. Now he needs to address this question in the context of the referendum. If voters choose to stay in the EU, how should this and other aspects of the democratic deficit be addressed?

“And there are questions for Nigel Farage too – if Britain does vote to leave the EU, it will have no say over the trade rules we’ll need to comply with in order to conduct our business with Europe. How will Britain outside Europe ensure that citizens and their elected government have real influence over these issues? And if Wales votes to stay in the UK but England votes to leave, should England’s votes pull Wales out of the European Union?

“If we leave Europe, we will need a constitutional convention of citizens to look at how we move forward as a democracy, after what will be a huge political change. We’ll also need to ensure people in Wales and the UK as a whole have some say on whatever treaties or trade relationships we sign up to. And if we remain in Europe, there are vital reforms we must make to improve the UK’s democratic relationship with the EU - and give Wales more of a voice over European affairs.

“For a start, the voting system for the EU elections puts power in the hands of parties, rather than citizens, allowing party bosses to draw up candidate lists behind closed doors. We need a system which lets the public decide: a candidate-centred voting system - the Single Transferable Vote – where citizens can actually pick the representatives themselves.

“Secondly, Ministers from the devolved nations should have a right to hold UK ministers to account on the stances taken by the government during negotiations. The discussions in the run-up to the vote affect people in Wales, as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland, significantly – whether it’s in terms of employee rights or free trade, environmental legislation or government vetoes.   

“And if we vote to stay in, Welsh Ministers should have the opportunity to take part in meetings of the Council of Ministers. It is not right that they are locked out of essential debates. Other EU countries such as Germany and Belgium allow federal regions to participate – there’s no reason we can’t.

“Welsh and British citizens also need far more of a say over what happens in the EU – including shaping EU legislation. From citizens’ assemblies to public hearings and open debates on EU legislation in Parliament, we can open up the policy-making process so that the people affected by European law aren’t left out in the cold if the UK votes to stay in.

“The elephant in the room then is clearly a need for a proper debate on democracy and our relationship with Europe. The choice to remain or leave has huge implications for Wales and the rest of Britain’s constitutional future. Stay or go, the sooner we start talking about this, the better.”

In 2014 the ERS published ‘Close the Gap: Tackling Europe’s Democratic Deficit’ which laid out 12 major recommendations on EU democratic reform. Read the full report and recommendations here.

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] See here http://www.iwa.org.uk/en/events/view/300 or here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/nigel-farage-carwyn-jones-go-10602023

[2] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

Strathclyde review: ‘This is not what real and lasting Lords reform looks like’

17th December 2015
17 Dec 2015

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  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 11:00, 17th December 2015
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Commenting on Lord Strathclyde’s proposals to scrap the veto power of the House of Lords on secondary legislation announced today [1], Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [2]:

“Scrapping the Lords’ veto over secondary legislation was rarely mentioned before the Lords voted against the Government’s tax credits proposal in October, yet suddenly it is all the rage. We cannot make piecemeal changes to the Lords’ powers every time there is a disagreement between the two Houses.

“If the Government accept the recommendations of Lord Strathclyde, they will be scrambling in response to the politics of the day, rather than implementing real, lasting and democratic changes.

“This proposal would require primary legislation, which will be a real challenge to get through Parliament. If the Government is planning to go to the trouble of passing a law to reform the Lords, they should stick to their official party policy and pass the one reform people really want – an elected second chamber.  

“There are all sorts of problems with the House of Lords, like the fact that in the 2010-2015 parliament, £360,000 was claimed by Peers in years they failed to vote once, or that it has more members who used to work in the Royal Household than from manual labour backgrounds [3]. Instead of rushing to put out fires, the Government needs to look at the issue of Lords reform in the round.

“The problem with the House of Lords isn’t its blocking power – it’s that it has no legitimacy. We have the second largest upper House in the world (after China’s), and the only fully-unelected second chamber in Europe. But to have a truly effective revising chamber it needs to have a mandate, and that can only come through people being able to hold Peers to account.

Just one in ten think the Lords should remain completely unelected [4]. This ‘headless chicken’ approach to Lords reform won’t work. We need to see genuine democratic reform of this bloated and out-of-date chamber.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

The ERS will be putting out a wide range of polling on democratic and constitutional issues, including the Lords, proportional representation, and party funding, over the next couple of months. For more information contact Josiah Mortimer (details above). 

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35117990

[2] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

[3] See the ERS’ recent ‘Fact vs Fiction’ report: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/its-official-house-lords-completely-bust

[4] http://electoral-reform.org.uk/press-release/poll-just-one-ten-think-lords-should-remain-unelected

The ERS’ logo is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/co61g3209r2okcd/ERS%20Logo%20colour%20on%20white%20348%20x%20220.jpg?dl=0

Poll: 57% of public think Westminster seats should match votes

16th December 2015
16 Dec 2015

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MPs to debate Proportional Representation today in Commons

  • New polling shows majority think number of seats parties get should reflect popular vote – to just 9% who disagree
  • 51% (to 28%) are ‘unhappy with the current electoral system and want it to change’
  • Polling comes as Jonathan Reynolds MP proposes Proportional Representation Bill in Commons

Statement from the Electoral Reform Society

For immediate release, 09:00, 16th December 2015

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society has released polling today showing strong public support for a fairer voting system for Westminster, as Jonathan Reynolds MP proposes a Bill to secure Proportional Representation for General Elections [1].

The poll, by BMG Research [2], shows 57% of the public think ‘the number of seats a party gets should broadly reflect its proportion of the total votes cast’ – compared to just 9% who disagree. 51% are ‘unhappy with the current electoral system and want it to change’, in contrast with only 28% who are satisfied.  

The findings come as Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds proposes a Ten Minute Rule Motion today (Wednesday 16th December) to implement a more proportional voting system for Westminster elections, through the ‘Representation of the People (Proportional Representation) Bill’ [3]. The Bill is the first chance for MPs to vote on PR in many years, and proposes adopting the Additional Member System used in Wales and Scotland for Assembly and Parliamentary elections. Over 6,000 people have so far written to their MPs asking them to back the Bill.

The polling found that support for reform is broadly consistent across the political spectrum, with 62% of those who describe themselves as on the right thinking Parliamentary seats should match votes, as well as 70% of those on the left. Similarly, 51% of those on the right are unhappy with the current voting system and want reform, alongside 59% of those who describe themselves as on the left of the political spectrum.

Proportionality is backed across all parties, with 55% of Conservatives agreeing or strongly agreeing that seats should reflect vote shares, 63% of Labour supporters and 77% of Lib Dems. 68% of UKIP supporters back the principle of proportionality.

The findings follow a similar poll following the General Election showing that 61% of the public back electoral reform [4], in the aftermath of what the ERS called ‘the most disproportionate election result in British history’ [5].

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [6]:

“These findings show that voters are still angry about the most disproportionate election result in history, with broad cross-party support for a fairer voting system. Politics has changed so much over the past few years, with more people than ever supporting a wider range of parties – yet their voices are being ignored.

“We’re not alone in saying it either - in May, nearly half a million people signed petitions calling for a proportional voting system, joined by five party leaders from across the spectrum, while a strong majority of the public back reform.

“The poll comes at a crucial time, with Jonathan Reynolds MP proposing a Bill to secure a fairer voting system this Wednesday. The coalition for reform is building.

“Multi-party politics is here to stay, but our old-fashioned two-party system can’t cope with the choices of modern voters.

“We clearly need a much fairer voting system, so we urge MPs to get behind both the British public and Jonathan Reynolds MP’s Bill and fix our broken democracy.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

The ERS will be putting out a wide range of polling on democratic and constitutional issues, including the Lords, proportional representation, and party funding, over the next month. For more information contact Josiah Mortimer (details above). 

[1] Polling by BMG Research of 1,504 residents aged 18+ in the UK, conducted at the end of October. For full cross-tabs  contact Josiah Mortimer.

[2] BMG Research: http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[3] More info available here: http://electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/putting-pr-parliament

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-sixty-per-cent-of-people-want-voting-reform-says-survey-10224354.html

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/09/electoral-reform-society-result-nail-in-coffin-first-past-the-post

[6] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

The ERS’ logo is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/co61g3209r2okcd/ERS%20Logo%20colour%20on%20white%20348%20x%20220.jpg?dl=0