On Tuesday we held our second Alliance Building Conference (ABC) in Parliament to plan the next phase of the cross-party campaign for Proportional Representation. Some exciting plans were set in motion which we’ll share with you next week - and we’ll invite you and everyone who wants fair votes to get involved.
The ABC was the culmination of an unbelievably busy month and a half of party conferences and events. Our team attended seven different conferences to make plans with party members, have crucial conversations with scores of MPs and key figures, put on major fringe events and run exhibition stands.
Keep reading to find out what we got up to, and if you haven’t already, please consider donating to our Crowdfunder to support this vital work. Since launching this fundraising appeal on Monday we’re already one third of the way to our £20,000 target, thanks to hundreds of people giving what they can. Contributions of any size are a huge help and we’re offering some fun rewards. Thank you for your support!
Trade Union Congress: 10th - 13th September
Our conference season started with TUC 2017. Trade unions have a vital role to play in winning fair votes, not only because pro-PR unions like PCS and Napo are really effective campaigners, but because the unions are so influential in the Labour Party. And as we know, Labour needs to come round to fair votes.
MVM Facilitator Klina Jordan spoke at the fringe event organised by the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform and chaired by Billy Hayes, former General Secretary of CWU. Other speakers included Howard Beckett (Unite), Sam Tarry (TSSA), Nancy Platts (former union liaison for Jeremy Corbyn), Amelia Womack (Green Party) and Mary Southcott (LCER).
There’s real movement on the issue among some of the biggest unions. What’s brilliant is that we’re now working closely with the Electoral Reform Society and LCER to help some of the undecided unions come to a positive position on fair votes. Much more to do, but very promising.
Liberal Democrats: 16th - 18th September
At Lib Dem Conference, we co-hosted a drinks reception with the Electoral Reform Society. We had some great conversations with a reliably welcoming room full of liberal voting reform activists, and Klina and Darren Hughes, the new ERS Chief Exec, set out plans and opportunities for the coming year.
Klina stayed at Conference to attend related fringe events and meet with the party’s MPs, Peers and other figures. The Liberal Democrats have long been supporters of PR. We’re keen to make sure it's something they not only advocate but campaign on as we work to bring them together with all the other parties on this issue.
Labour Party: 24th - 27th September
We pulled out all the stops for this year’s Labour Conference. On the eve of the conference we published the second edition of our Labour Report. We launched it at an event featuring Clive Lewis, Rupa Huq, Stephen Kinnock and Tulip Siddiq, co-hosted with JRRT, Compass and LCER. With LCER, we held a second event - a larger rally - with a speakers from across Labour’s political spectrum. And we collaborated with Compass to run a breakfast workshop on PR and political alliances.
Throughout the four-day Conference, a team of volunteers from MVM and LCER ran an exhibition stand. They talked to hundreds of Labour members, signing them up to invite speakers on PR to their local parties, and we spoke to dozens of Labour MPs including - as a consequence of our work during the conferences the number of Labour MPs who support PR has now gone up to 79!
UKIP: 26th to 30th October
At this year’s UKIP Conference, Klina was invited to speak to the main conference hall, and made a non-partisan call for fair votes and proper representation. You can watch a video of her speech below.
Jack also organised an exhibition stand which, following Klina’s speech, was inundated with members keen to get involved. Following a meeting with him, the new leader, Henry Bolton, has confirmed his commitment to keeping the party focused on PR.
Conservative Party: 1st - 4th October
Unfortunately attending Conservative Conference is prohibitively expensive for a campaign like ours - almost £900 for a single conference pass! So Klina had to attend fringe events taking place outside the secure zone and had meetings with a number of Tories who are pro- or open to PR.
There were major demonstrations going on outside. MVM activists handed out leaflets explaining that the voting system is the source of their grievances. The problem is not the range of views, from left to right, that encompass British politics - it’s that those views are not fairly represented in parliament so we all end up being governed by a minority!
London City Hall: 3rd October
On 3rd October we held a special event in the spectacular 'London’s Living Room' venue at City Hall. This cross-party event featured Assembly Members Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem), Peter Whittle (UKIP), Siân Berry (Green) and Tom Copley (Labour) as well as Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality Party) and Guardian journalist Phil McDuff.
We had a great and at times very lively discussion, which reminded us how important it is to keep the focus on the single issue of PR when bringing together such diverse speakers!
Green Party: 8th October - 10th October
At the Green Party Conference our team and supporters continued the vibrant conversation about democracy within the party and worked to make a success of key motions that will support cross-party efforts to bring in PR. As ever the Greens remain passionately focussed on ditching our antiquated political system and bringing in real democracy.
Cooperative Party Conference: 14th - 15th October
At the Cooperative Party Conference, we finally handed Jeremy Corbyn a copy of our joint report on why Labour must back PR. We hope he’ll read it!
Klina also had good conversations with Labour and Co-operative MPs, AMs, MEPs and Peers, and surfaced more support for PR.
Bristol City Hall: 11th October
Make Votes Matter Co-facilitators Joe Sousek and Klina Jordan were invited to give a talk and Q&A at Bristol City Hall. Despite soggy weather there was a good turnout and some very informed conversations had with the many experts in the room!
Alliance Building Conference: 17th October
To top off this year’s Conference season, we held our second Alliance Building Conference, launching the campaign for PR for the new Parliament. Key representatives of the parties whose conferences we didn’t manage to get to - Ben Lake MP from Plaid Cymru and Tommy Sheppard from the SNP - joined MPs, Lords and key figures from Labour (Jonathan Reynolds, Paul Blomfield, Ruth Cadbury and Bambos Charalambous), the Liberal Democrats (Paul Tyler and Sal Brinton), the Green Party (Amelia Womack and Natalie Bennett), Hannah Peaker (Women’s Equality Party), and UKIP’s new leader: Henry Bolton.
Look out for a full update about the meeting next, and how you can get involved in the plan!