Press Releases

Cutting funding for smaller parties is ‘hugely regressive step’ say campaigners

21st March 2016
21 Mar 2016


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  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 21st March 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, 07717211630 or

Commenting on the news [1] that the government are to announce deep cuts to smaller parties’ funding this week, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“The government’s plans to disproportionately cut so-called Short money for smaller opposition parties is an incredibly backwards step.

“UKIP received nearly four million votes last year, but ended up with only one MP. The Greens received over a million votes and likewise ended up with just one MP. Slashing their funding is an affront to those millions of voters who were not fairly represented.

“Currently, Short money - allocated in large part on the basis of number of votes rather than just seats - partially compensates for our woefully disproportionate voting system. Making it less proportional is hugely regressive given that we are now a pluralistic, multi-party democracy, with a need for a strong and diverse opposition.

“57% of the public think a publicly-funded political system would be fairer than the big-donor dominated one we have now. This cut will do nothing to improve people's perceptions of politics being stitched-up by the big parties.

“We hope the government think again and stand up for the millions whose voices were ignored last May.”



See here:



Transparency campaigners welcome Minister’s decision to remove Lobbying Bill loophole

10th March 2016
10 Mar 2016


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  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society Scotland on behalf of Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT)
  • For Immediate Release, 10th March 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Willie Sullivan, ERS Scotland Director, on 07940523842 or, contact Katie Gallogly-Swan ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser, on 07930862497 or

Campaigners are welcoming a ‘victory for transparency’ after receiving a letter from the Minister for Parliamentary Business, Joe Fitzpatrick to Members today, stating that the government will now amend the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill further to ensure that all lobbying organisations will be covered by the Bill.  

The Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency feared that a previous Government amendment to the Bill, which would have meant only organisations with 10 staff members or more would have to register, would create a loophole where advocacy and trade bodies – including organisations as influential as the lead body for the pharmaceutical industry (ABPI Scotland) - would not have to make public their lobbying activity.

The Lobbying Bill Scotland receives its final reading in the Parliament this afternoon (Thursday 10th March) and is expected to pass.

In the letter, sent on the 9th March, Mr Fitzpatrick wrote [1]:

“The Government considers that amendment 22 [limiting the Bill’s scope to organisations with 10 or more employees] would not itself have the effect of exempting representative bodies from having to register.

However, in light of the concerns I have decided to bring forward a further Government amendment to put that matter beyond doubt.

I hope this position will offer reassurance to you and all those who have represented your views to me and to other Members of the Scottish Parliament.” 

Willie Sullivan, Director of Electoral Reform Society Scotland and a member of the Salt Coalition said:

“We are delighted that the Minister has responded positively to our calls for the government to close the loophole on lobbying bodies with fewer than 10 staff. There are dozens of major organisations which would have been completely free of any public scrutiny and openness had this amendment been passed.

“Thousands of people wrote to their MSPs about this, so it is very welcome news that the government has listened and opted for an even more democratic Bill which gives Scottish voters the right to know who is influencing their representatives.

“While we do still have some concerns about the Bill - particularly the fact that only face to face meeting are recorded and not emails or phone calls - we are confident that this Bill, when enacted, will increase public visibility of lobbying and make Holyrood one of the most transparent parliaments in Europe.

“With a built in two year review the new lobby register should provide a firm basis and good evidence for parliament to include other lobbying activity such as email correspondence following the first review.”


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. 

For more information on SALT, please visit

View the latest YouGov poll results on Scottish voters’ views on lobbying here:

[1] The full letter can be seen here:

Low turnout feared as just 16% of public feel well informed about EU referendum

8th March 2016
8 Mar 2016








Statement from the Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release, 8th March

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or


Just one in six people feel well informed about the upcoming EU referendum, according to new polling released today by the Electoral Reform Society.

The polling by BMG Research [1] shows that just 12% feel ‘well informed’, while a further 4% of the public feel ‘very well informed’ about the June vote.

With less than four months to go before people cast their ballots, nearly half (46%) feel poorly or very poorly informed about the vote. This falls to 38% among those who say they will definitely vote in the referendum, and rises to 61% among those who say they probably will not vote – suggesting there is a link between how much people feel they know about the referendum debate and how likely they are to vote.

The BMG polling [2] also shows that over double the number of 55-64 year olds feel well informed (21%) about the referendum compared to 18-24 year olds (10%), suggesting that young people will be less likely to vote on polling day. Men are also twice as likely to feel well informed than women (21% vs 10%).

The Electoral Reform Society – which today launches its own programme of work on the EU vote, called A Better Referendum [3] – says the findings highlight the need for a deeper and more informative debate around the referendum.

The ERS is making 5 recommendations for:

1.    The Remain and Leave campaigns to commit to taking part in televised debates on the EU referendum

2.    The campaigns to make voter registration a key plank of their plans

3.    The campaigns to support initiatives aimed at giving citizens a chance to debate the issues in more depth, for example by providing speakers for local debates

4.    The campaigns to commit to a ‘Ceasefire Week’, where both sides only put out the positive cases for their arguments

5.    Media organisations, relevant public bodies and non-governmental organisations to commit to providing balanced coverage of the debate, including clear and comprehensible facts on Britain’s relationship with the EU

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society [4], said:

“These figures are a wake-up call to politicians, parties, public bodies and everyone involved in the referendum to do all they can to boost public knowledge and engagement in this crucial vote. People want a real, informed debate about Britain’s relationship with the European Union, so let’s give it to them.

“We saw in Scotland during the independence referendum what can happen when people feel informed about an important decision and empowered to take part. People are crying out for the full information they need to get to grips with the EU referendum debate, and for the space to have those discussions.

“The campaigns have a responsibility to listen to voters and engage with them, as well as broadcast their views. And in a close referendum, turnout will be key – so it’s in the campaigns’ interest to provide a platform for a rich and stimulating debate.

“And the media have a part to play in creating the conditions for a good referendum debate. Let’s hear about the issues at stake and not just about the personalities and in-fighting.

“Our five recommendations could help open up a real conversation among the public about the issues surrounding Britain’s membership of the European Union. There are simple things which can be done to bring this referendum to life, from TV debates to grassroots events and a ‘Ceasefire Week’. Let’s take the conversation beyond Westminster and Fleet Street to communities across the UK.

“We know that there is a clear link between how well informed people feel and their likelihood to vote. So let’s do everything we can to foster a deep and vibrant debate around the EU referendum.”

As part of its ‘A Better Referendum’ programme being launched today, the ERS will be releasing extensive monthly BMG polling on the EU, including tracker questions on:

·         How informed people feel about the referendum

·         Which campaigns voters have heard from (and how)

·         What percentage of people the public think are likely to vote (wisdom of crowds)

·         How negative/positive both sides are seen in their campaigning

The ERS will also be providing commentary on the vote (including technical aspects of the referendum) throughout the campaign. For more information on the polling and commentary contact Josiah Mortimer (details at the top).



[1] Polling conducted by BMG Research between the 19th and 23rd February 2016. 1517 representative respondents aged 18 or over took part in the online poll. For full crosstabs, see here:

[2] BMG Research:

[3] See notes at end of press release

[4] A photo of Katie Ghose is available here:

Party funding: ERS welcomes Lords’ call for changes to Trade Union Bill

2nd March 2016
2 Mar 2016


Contact Tel: 
  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 2nd March 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or

The Electoral Reform Society has warmly welcomed recommendations by a Lords committee to amend elements of the Trade Union Bill [1], so that a fair and sustainable party funding settlement might be reached.

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

“This report gives the Government a clear opportunity to start urgently needed talks on reforming party funding. The public are sick to death of scandals involving big donors, and want to see real reform of the way parties are financed. But as this committee has explicitly recognised, changing the way one party is funded without looking at the wider picture is not the route to a sustainable settlement.

“We strongly welcome the committee’s recommendations on reforming the proposed opt-in process for new trade union members. In particular, a minimum 12-month period for unions to move to the new arrangement gives parties a window of opportunity to get round the table and sort out their funding issues once and for all.

“We also welcome the committee’s recommendation to exclude existing union members from the new opt-in arrangement until cross-party talks on party funding reform have been established. It isn’t right that one party which happens to be in government should be able to move unilaterally against its opponents’ source of funds. The committee has rightly pointed out that this could start a tit-for-tat funding war that would only serve to damage our representative democracy and further undermine public faith in political parties.

“The reforms to the way union members opt into political funds could be the first step towards a sustainable party funding settlement. But if it’s the only step, then it will do more harm than good. Now is the time for parties to get together and agree a settlement which ends big donors’ perceived influence and restores people’s trust in the process.”

The report comes after Peers voted on the 20th January to set up a cross-party select committee [3] on party funding reform, amidst growing concern that the Trade Union Bill was ‘dangerously one-sided’ in its approach to the issue.

Baroness Smith of Basildon’s motion [4] concerned the party funding elements of the Trade Union Bill (clauses 10 and 11), which would force union members to ‘opt in’ to unions’ political funds – significantly cutting the Labour party’s income without balancing it for other parties.

Recent polling by BMG Research for the ERS showed that 77% of public think that big donors have too much influence on parties [5].

Read the ERS’ briefing on the Trade Union Bill here:

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.

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or


[1] Report available here:

[2] A photo of Katie Ghose is available here:


[4] See here: and here

[5] Polling by BMG research for the ERS:

Electoral register ‘getting more unequal by the year’

24th February 2016
24 Feb 2016


Contact Tel: 
  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 24th February 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or

Concerted action is required to ensure hundreds of thousands of British voters do not end up disenfranchised ahead of elections in May, the Electoral Reform Society has warned.

The warning comes as new government figures [1] show there has been a 600,000 drop in the number of registered voters over the past year – and a drop of 1.4 million names over the last two years. This fall has taken place since the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

Both the Electoral Reform Society and the Electoral Commission warned against [2] the Government’s move to end the transition to IER in December last year [2], a year earlier than previously planned.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [3]:

“The fall in the number of registered voters over the past two years shows the danger of the government’s decision to push through the shift to individual electoral registration a year ahead of schedule, against the advice of the Electoral Commission. With elections all over the country in just three months, far too many people are now in danger of missing out on their most basic civic right.

“Any fall at this early stage of transition from household registration to IER is worrying, particularly if it begins to become a trend as the new system takes hold.

“The constituencies which saw the biggest drop are largely student seats and deprived areas – groups which are already under-represented. The areas with the biggest rise are largely wealthier areas. This patchy picture means electoral registration – and the number of parliamentary seats representing each area – is getting more unequal by the year.

"We can’t have a democratic system based on a registration postcode lottery. And whatever the size of the fall, this evidence of growing social and age divides in our democracy could be hugely damaging if it carries on in the long-run.

“We need a registration revolution in this country, bringing in polling-day registration and other innovations [4] to make it easier to register. In the meantime, we need a major UK-wide push to get people signed up ahead of May’s elections and the EU referendum in June.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or


[1] The total number of UK parliamentary electors in 2015 was 44,722,000, a fall of 1.3% from 2014 – ONS


[3] A photo of Katie Ghose is available here:


Rushed referendum ‘side-lines Welsh voters’, say campaigners

20th February 2016
20 Feb 2016


Contact Tel: 
  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society Cymru
  • For immediate release, 20th February 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or

Electoral Reform Society Cymru have expressed disappointment at the Prime Minister’s announcement today that the EU referendum will be held on the 23rd of June, describing it as ‘damaging for debate’ and ‘side-ling Welsh voters’.

The organisation which campaigns for a better democracy has said that a June referendum means that the run-up to the Welsh Assembly election will be dominated by discussions on the EU referendum rather than who will form the next Welsh government.

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“This decision is both bad news for Welsh voters and for the EU referendum debate. Having just seven weeks between the two votes means the crucial few weeks before the Assembly election will likely be overshadowed by the EU referendum.

“Instead of rushing the referendum, Cameron should give fair space to both debates – especially with the Scottish, London and Northern Ireland Parliament/Assembly elections going on too. Let’s give both votes a clear run, rather than risking muddling the issues or one debate dominating the other.

“Instead, this referendum date is side-lines Welsh voters – and voters in Scotland, London and Northern Ireland for that matter. The devolved elections get far too little UK-wide attention as it is and this is only going to be worsened by a June EU vote.

“Four months is simply not enough time to have detailed and serious debates about these two very different ballots which will massively affect the people of Wales and the UK. Today’s decision is a negative move.

“Nonetheless, the ERS will do everything we can in this short time to help ensure the debate is positive, diverse and well-run as possible.”

Electoral Reform Society: ‘Are government burying the news on cuts to opposition funding?’

19th February 2016
19 Feb 2016


Contact Tel: 
  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 19th February 2016
  • For more information, for further quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, Electoral Reform Society Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or

Campaigners are asking whether the government are ‘sweeping under the rug’ the consultation on proposed 19% cuts to opposition party funding today, as it launches its consultation document [1] on the controversial changes on the same day as the expected EU referendum deal. 

Will Brett, Head of Campaigns and Communications at the Electoral Reform Society said:

“The government are launching this consultation on the day when an EU deal is set to be announced. A cynic might think they want to bury the news that they’re going ahead with 19% cuts to funding for opposition parties. Trying to sweep this under the carpet does British voters a real disservice.

“This consultation is not about the principle of cutting funding for opposition parties - it’s merely about how the cut should be done. But the UK already spends just a tenth of the European average on public funding for political parties, and has one of the lowest rates of public funding among developed countries. Any further reductions can only undermine the ability for opposition parties to do their democratic duty of holding the government to account.

“The mooted plans to change the benchmark for Short money – reducing the emphasis of parties’ number of votes – would also be a step backwards. Britain’s voting system means smaller parties are hugely under-represented, despite having significant public support. Focusing just on the number of MPs denies a voice to millions of citizens whose votes didn’t translate into seats because of an out-dated voting system. Changing the benchmark to disadvantage smaller parties would be a retrograde move that ignores the fact we are now a pluralistic, multi-party democracy, with a need for a strong and diverse opposition to reflect voters’ views.

“57% of the public think a publicly-funded political system would be fairer than the largely big-donor dominated one we have now. This cut will do nothing to improve people's perceptions of politics. All it will do is weaken our democracy and leave voters even more under-represented."


[1] The consultation can be read here:

For more information, for further quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, Electoral Reform Society Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or

ERS Cymru call for votes at 16 and e-voting pilots with launch of democracy manifesto

18th February 2016
18 Feb 2016
ERS Cymru
ERS Wales


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***Neges Ddwyieithog: Scroliwch Lawr am y Gymraeg // Bilingual Message: Scroll down for Welsh***

ERS Cymru call for votes at 16 and e-voting pilots with launch of democracy manifesto     

Campaigners are calling on parties to get behind votes at 16, a monthly ‘Citizens’ Question Time’ and online voting trials in the Assembly in the run up to May’s election.

Electoral Reform Society Cymru are laying down a challenge for parties to get behind proposals for ‘revitalising democracy in Wales’, with the launch of ‘Breathing New Life into Politics’ [1], the first of three manifestos being published by the campaign group ahead of May’s Assembly elections [2].

The 19 policy recommendations in the democratic reform manifesto include piloting a ‘Citizens’ Committee’ in the Senedd to scrutinise Ministers, introducing Proportional Representation for local elections, and making it possible to vote anywhere in Wales – all of which will be possible under the new Wales Act.

The Society are calling on parties to kick-start a ‘democratic revival’ in Wales as the election race heats up, with parties planning their manifestos in the run up to May.

Read the report here in Welsh and English

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“As the Assembly gains new powers over elections, there’s a real opportunity for parties and the next government to revitalise Welsh democracy, and this manifesto lays out the way forward.

“With innovative reforms like votes at 16, a monthly Citizens’ Question Time and online voting trials, we can make the next Assembly more engaging and participatory than it has ever been. 

“We hope all parties embrace the recommendations as crucial moves to change the way we do politics in Wales for the better. We’ve laid down the challenge – now’s the chance to embrace this opportunity to make Wales a world-leader in democratic reform.

“Over the last two decades the shape of Welsh politics has changed enormously. We now live in an era of multi-party politics. But our institutions are under growing strain, while voters in Wales feel increasingly disconnected from politics. It’s time to bring democracy closer to the people.

“Wales will soon have the power to do so – and we hope parties use those powers for the good of voters.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, comment piece or coverage in advance, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer - / 07717211630


[1] Read the embargoed report, Breathing New Life Into Politics, here (bilingual)

[2] The next two policy-themed mini-manifestos will be launched in March and April, on diversity/accessibility and open government/transparency. Contact Josiah Mortimer (details above) to discuss further.


ERS Cymru yn galw am bleidlais yn 16 oed ac e-bleidleisio gyda lansiad maniffesto ddemocratiaeth

Mae ymgyrchwyr yn galw ar y pleidiau gwleidyddol i gefnogi pleidlais yn 16 oed, pleidleisio ar-lein ac yn ‘Hawl i Holi Dinasyddion’ misol yn y Cynulliad yn y cyfnod cyn etholiad y Cynulliad ym mis Mai.

Mae Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru wedi gosod her i bleidiau I gefnogi cynigion I 'adfywio democratiaeth yng Nghymru', gyda lansiad 'Adnewyddu ein Gwleidyddiaeth', y cyntaf o dri [1] maniffesto sy'n cael eu cyhoeddi gan y grŵp ymgyrchu cyn etholiadau'r Cynulliad ym mis Mai.

Mae'r 19 argymhelliad yn y maniffesto dros ddiwygio democrataidd yn cynnwys treialu 'Pwyllgor o Ddinasyddion’ yn y Senedd i graffu ar Weinidogion, cyflwyno cynrychiolaeth gyfrannol ar gyfer etholiadau lleol, a gwneud hi’n bosibl i bleidleisio yn unrhyw le yng Nghymru - bydd pob un ohonynt yn bosibl o dan y Ddeddf Cymru newydd.

Mae'r Gymdeithas yn galw ar bleidiau annog 'adfywiad democrataidd' yng Nghymru wrth i'r ras etholiad boethi, gyda pleidiau yn cynllunio eu maniffestos yn y cyfnod hyd at fis Mai.

Darllenwch yr adroddiad dan embargo yma

Dywedodd Steve Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Wrth i'r Cynulliad yn ennill pwerau newydd dros etholiadau, mae cyfle go iawn i bleidiau a'r llywodraeth nesaf i adfywio democratiaeth Cymru, a mae’r maniffesto yma yn dangos y ffordd ymlaen.

"Gyda diwygiadau arloesol fel pleidleisiau yn 16 oed, Hawl I Holi misol i Ddinasyddion a phleidleisio ar-lein, gallwn wneud y Cynulliad nesaf yn fwy deniadol a chyfranogol nag a fu erioed.

"Rydym yn gobeithio I bob plaid groesawu’r argymhellion fel symudiadau hanfodol i newid y ffordd yr ydym yn gwneud gwleidyddiaeth yng Nghymru er gwell. Rydym wedi gosod yr her - nawr yw'r cyfle i achub ar y cyfle hwn i wneud Cymru yn arweinydd byd o ran diwygio democrataidd.

"Dros y ddau ddegawd diwethaf mae siâp gwleidyddiaeth Cymru wedi newid yn aruthrol. Rydym bellach yn byw mewn cyfnod o wleidyddiaeth aml-blaid. Ond mae ein sefydliadau o dan straen, tra bod pleidleiswyr yng Nghymru yn teimlo'n fwyfwy wedi datgysylltu o wleidyddiaeth. Mae'n amser i ddod â democratiaeth yn agosach at y bobl.

"Cyn hir bydd gan y Cynulliad y pŵer i wneud hynny - ac rydym yn gobeithio I’r pleidiau ddefnyddio'r pwerau hynny er lles pleidleiswyr yma yng Nghymru."

Am fwy o wybodaeth neu i drefnu cyfweliad, sylwadau darn neu sylw ymlaen llaw, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer, Cymru Swyddog Cyfathrebu ERS - / 07717211630


Darllenwch yr adroddiad dan embargo yma

Bydd themau y ddau mini-maniffestos nesaf yn cael eu lawnsio yn Mawrth ac Ebrill, ar amrywiaeth / cydraddoldeb, ac ar  llywodraeth agored a thryloyw. Cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer (manylion uchod) i drafod ymhellach.

Electoral Reform Society Cymru to launch Democracy Manifesto: ‘Breathing New Life in to Politics’

11th February 2016
11 Feb 2016
ERS Wales
ERS Cymru
Assembly elections


Contact Tel: 

Forward Planning Note: 

ERS Cymru  to publish key policy recommendations to parties for revitalising democracy in Wales, ahead of Assembly elections and forthcoming new powers

Release date: Thursday 18th February. 

Contact: Josiah Mortimer, Communications Officer - / 07717211630.


Electoral Reform Society Cymru will launch its manifesto on democratic reform next Thursday (18th February), as part of the first of three manifestos [1] ahead of May’s Assembly elections.

The manifesto will call on all parties to get behind policies to improve democracy in Wales as they write their own manifestos.

The 19 key policy recommendations – on issues covering elections, getting young people active in democracy, and bringing power closer to the people - will draw on new powers over elections and the running of the Assembly and local councils coming to Wales, including the franchise age and the voting system used for local elections.


A full briefing/press release and embargoed digital version of the report will be sent out on Wednesday 17th at 10:00, embargoed for Thursday 18th, 00:01. Print copies will be available on request.

For more information or to arrange an interview, comment piece or coverage in advance, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer - / 07717211630


The next two policy-themed mini-manifestos will be launched in Marched and April, on diversity/accessibility and open government/transparency. Contact Josiah Mortimer (details above) to discuss further. 

Leading figures from major parties unite to secure electoral reform by 2021

5th February 2016
5 Feb 2016
proportional representation
electoral reform


Contact Tel: 

PR Alliance Building Conference will bring together high-profile politicians from every major party

  • Forward planning note from Make Votes Matter, for immediate release, 4th February 2016
  • Journalists will be able to interview speakers and participants
  • Date: Monday 8th February 2016, 13:30 - 18:00, followed by interviews, drinks and networking
  • Press accreditation and address available on request for journalists wishing to attend
  • For enquiries contact Klina Jordan on or 07813 336 618

Leading figures from all the UK’s major parties will come together next Monday (8th February) to discuss how to achieve a proportional voting system for Westminster elections by 2021.

It follows rumours that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are discussing a potential pact to secure PR after the next General Election [1], and a joint letter signed by several party leaders in the Independent on Sunday [2].

The conference, organised by Make Votes Matter [3], draws together figures from across the spectrum, with a high-profile platform of speakers and participants:

Keynote speakers:

  • Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
  • Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society
  • Diane James, MEP for SE England, & Home Affairs Spokesperson, UKIP
  • Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour
  • Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Labour
  • Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, Scottish National Party
  • John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform
  • Lord Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrats
  • Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour
  • Hywel Williams, MP and Parliamentary Leader, Plaid Cymru

Organisers see the event as an opportunity for all the main political parties, pro-PR organisations, representatives of local democracy groups and public figures to form alliances in order to secure a proportional voting system following the next General Election.

A spokesperson for Make Votes Matter said:

“Last May’s General Election was the most disproportionate election ever in the UK. Votes per MP elected varied dramatically from party to party, ranging from just over 23,000 votes to almost 4 million, and when one quarter of voters are represented by 1.5% of Parliamentary seats, we cannot say we have real democracy.

“To secure a proportional voting system, all the pro-PR parties and organisations need to find the best way forward together, so we excited to be creating a space to start the conversation. The PR Alliance Building Conference is a historic opportunity to work collaboratively towards creating and implementing an effective strategy to get PR for Westminster by 2021.”

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

Last year saw over half a million people and five political parties come together to sign and deliver petitions calling for a fair voting system, so this conference is a very welcome next step in the push for a truly democratic voting system.

“Nearly every European country uses a Proportional Representation (PR) system, and here in the UK, public support for PR is at an all-time high, with three quarters of the public in favour. It’s great to see citizens and leading political figures coming together to work out how best to secure a fair voting system.”

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, said:

“The fact that we have a government without any kind of democratic mandate - with only the support of 24% of eligible voters, combined with our unelected House of Lords, is doing serious damage to trust in our democratic process. It's almost a century since the last significant change in Westminster. It was 1918 when women got the vote - we should not go past the anniversary of that without seeing a change to a fair, proportional electoral system, in both the Commons and the upper chamber.”

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour, said:

“First Past The Post has had its day. We cannot carry on with a voting system that disenfranchises millions and where winning an argument with the British public is a different task to winning the votes required to form a government.  It is not sustainable and I doubt the British people will continue to stand for it.”

Lord Paul Tyler of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“The public are urging us to act together.  This Government is throwing its weight around with the support of less than a quarter of the eligible electorate – they would brand any other government in the world with that level of mandate as illegitimate.”

Diane James MEP, UKIP Home Affairs and Justice Spokesperson:

“At the last general election, UKIP got 4 million votes and only one elected MP. This is patently untenable and things cannot go on like this. The first past the post electoral system is clearly bankrupt. We must have an electoral system where votes cast match seats allocated and introducing a proportional system will deliver a result that is both fair and more democratic.”

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour:

“The First Past The Post electoral system distorts our democracy, encourages adversarial politics and divides people. With the constitutional foundations of our nation cracking the case for electoral reform has never been stronger. The PR alliance is a doughty campaigner on this vital issue, and I am honoured to have been invited to speak at this important event.”

John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform:

"Our electoral system is bust. Parliament no longer represents all the people of the United Kingdom. This democratic deficit has to be addressed. It is time for our political parties to come together to create a fair electoral system that will ensure that the views of all the people are taken into account".

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, SNP:

“The current electoral system alienates people from politics and widens the divide between government and the governed. The first past the post system is unfair, undemocratic, and long past its sell by date.”


  • 13:30 – 14:00 Arrival, refreshments and networking
  • 14:00 – 14:40 Welcome from Owen Winter, Member of Youth Parliament and Make Votes Matter Spokesperson, followed by introductions
  • 14:40 – 15:20 Keynote ideas about how each of the parties plans to get PR and how collaboration with other groups could make this more likely
  • 15:20 – 16:00 Cream tea and bubbly: making connections for ongoing collaboration
  • 16:00 – 16:40 Open Space: facilitated plenary session to establish working group topics  
  • 16:40 – 17:20 Working groups arising from plenary discussion
  • 17:20 – 18:00 Closing circle – reports back from the working groups about what has been agreed and how their ideas will be taken forward
  • 18:00 – 19:30 Press interviews, photo opportunities, drinks, nibbles and networking


Notes to Editors



[3] Make Votes Matter is a campaign organisation focused on getting Proportional Representation in the House of Commons by 2021. Their formation was triggered by the most disproportionate election in UK history, and they are a non-partisan, democratically-organised group with over 238,000 supporters. MVM’s Declaration for Voting Reform has been signed by hundreds of people, high profile figures and organisations, including Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society, the Green Party, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Frankie Boyle.