Annual Meeting 2005Edit
The following resolutions were passed at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Electoral Reform Society.
Every effort is taken to ensure this page is complete and correct but the definitive version of these resolutions is available from the Electoral Reform Society. This material may be copyrighted.
The Society's General Election CampaignEdit
This Annual Meeting:
Notes with approval the campaigning activities of the Society in the run-up to, during and since the General Election, especially the media coverage generated; the increased frequency of communication to members, notably via email; and the intensive work to maintain post-election momentum, notably with The Independent newspaper and Make Votes Count (MVC);
Also notes the increased scale of campaigning plans, including work with and for members; support for Conservative Action on Electoral Reform; and the prospect of an Electoral Reform youth and student movement;
Congratulates Society staff and also Make Votes Count staff for close cooperation on the ‘Make My Vote Count’ website and related campaigning, that calls for a proportional, preferential voting system leading to more representative government;
And believes that the 2005 General Election, with its grossly disproportionate result and subsequent public outcry, provides a rare and not to be missed basis for mounting a targeted, sustained campaign in the public domain; and for building support for electoral reform.
The meeting therefore calls on the Council to:
- Continue support for The Independent campaign and petition;
- Continue to work closely with MVC and other agencies to build public support and pressure for voting reform;
- Build and use a multi-thousands database, via web marketing, of supporters.
- Demand that all new House of Commons MPs declare whether they are pro- or anti-electoral reform; so ensuring the campaign is fought in all parts of the UK;
- Present the case for STV to the Government’s review of voting systems; focusing in particular on the fact that STV maintains and strengthens the link between electors and elected; and that voter choice and power is at the core of reform, rather than being advantageous to any one political party.
- Press for an independent, open and transparent review.
This AGM:- endorses the 2004 AGM resolution which called on Council to investigate without delay the best way to ensure that the Government's proposed review of voting systems is truly independent and then to campaign vigorously for that; - notes that the Government has in the meantime commenced an internal review; - considers that the recent General Election demonstrates the need for an urgent review of voting systems for the benefit of voters which is independent, open and transparent; - urges Council, despite the Government’s internal review, to implement the 2004 resolution urgently now and in particular to consider the precedent of the Citizens' Assembly in British Columbia as a model for independent reviews.
Action has already been taken on the first bullet point. The resolution asks Council to consider the British Columbia route. I recommend that the accepts the Citizens Assembly approach as an option to be put to Government, although not the only option to be pursued.
Responding to Electoral Reform Inquiry RecommendationsEdit
This Annual Meeting
notes that the Government’s internal review started recently and recalls that the Siederer Report considered how the Society could best respond to further inquiries into electoral systems without repeating the difficulties following the Jenkins Inquiry.
It believes that when the Society responds to any future Inquiry recommendations, relevant discussions should be held in a way that respects honest differences of opinion and provides a basis for consensus support behind the eventual response.
It therefore calls on Council
- to review the deficiencies identified by the Siederer Report and the advice given to overcome them
- and to prepare a framework, in advance of any results of the current review, for the Society to respond in a way that addresses the deficiencies and reflects the advice.
Work with Younger PeopleEdit
This Annual Meeting is concerned at the low turnout of young voters in elections and therefore calls on the Council to continue and intensify its efforts to engage young people in politics and in the campaign for electoral reform;
In particular, this Annual Meeting welcomes:
- the development of X-Change, an organisation of younger members of the Electoral Reform Society, and urges the Council to give Syfer its full support and to promote closer engagement with young people’s organisations and activities such as the United Kingdom Youth Parliament and Y-Vote (the former promoting real annual elections in secondary schools across the country and the latter providing materials for mock elections in citizenship courses;
- the success of the Votes at 16 coalition which the Society led and which resulted in:
- contact with 3,000 young people who subscribed to the campaign and around 30 organisations with which the Society had not had previous contact;
- the Society conducting more than 200 media interviews; and
- contact being established with over 30 MPs who had not previously been involved in the Society's work;
- the support of the House of Lords, the National Assembly of Wales, the Local Government Committee of the Scottish Parliament and a House of Commons Select Committee;
This Annual Meeting calls on the Council to revive the Society's role in hosting the debate.
Minimum Voting AgeEdit
A. although the Society’s Memorandum of Association allows it to advocate measures strengthening democratic governance and maximising voter participation, it does not allow the Society to advocate increasing the electorate;
B. the Electoral Commission advised against lowering the minimum voting age;
C. a recent television teletext poll resulted in 7% for and 93% against lowering the minimum voting age;
D. the Labour Party’s 2005 manifesto did not contain a promise to reduce the minimum voting age;
E. a House of Commons Select committee recommended in March this year that the minimum age for joining the Army should be raised from 16 to 18;
- the recent general Election shows that the single transferable vote is needed more than ever;
- the Society should concentrate more on securing its main object of the adoption of proportional representation by the single transferable vote
- giving the vote to more people is less important than providing existing electors with effective votes of equal value;
- nothing should be done that might alienate existing or potential ERS members, whose support for STV is more important than their attitude to the voting age;
Resolves that the Society and its staff should forthwith take no part in campaigning for or against changing the minimum voting age.