Make Votes Matter had an incredibly busy month as we visited many of the political party conferences, making sure PR was high up on the agenda across the political spectrum.
At the Labour Conference, we co-hosted a rally for Proportional Representation with the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform: Time for Labour to embrace PR.
The event was reported in the Independent as "the biggest gathering of Labour MPs in support of PR for a generation", and there was an amazing amount of enthusiasm for democratic reform among a panel and audience that spanned the Party.
Not only did we fill the venue to capacity, but we had to set up an overflow room and ask each of the fourteen speakers to give another speech to a second audience! There was a huge amount of enthusiasm behind the Labour Party adopting Proportional Representation as policy. In order for this happen, we need to show democratic support for the policy within the Party. Labour Party members wanting to play a part in this can find out how here.
We often run into members of the public who would like PR in the UK, but are despondent about our prospects for getting it: "the big parties will never allow it", etc.. If ever there was an antidote to this kind of pessimism, it's finding MPs from both of the big parties who openly talk about electoral reform in the same terms as their Green, Lib Dem or UKIP counterparts.
Ben describes FPTP as a "very unfair, very undemocratic system" and PR - not boundary reviews - as the solution. He prefers the Additional Member System as used in the Scottish Parliament and London Assembly. And he's optimistic about other MPs from his party joining him. Click here to read the whole article.
Our team had a great response to their stall at the UKIP Conference. We had the opportunity to meet senior party figures, including Douglas Carswell MP - who signed our Declaration and joined the campaign - and spoke with loads of party members about the need for PR to benefit the members and voters of all parties.
The Green Party Conference saw great advocates of PR elected as Co-Leaders: Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley. There was a huge amount about electoral reform on the agenda, including a lot of enthusiasm for a "progressive alliance" to help bring in PR. MVM Facilitator Klina Jordan invited attendees of a Global Greens fringe event to have a go at the international electoral reform dance, which resulted in much entertainment... we'll dance our way to PR yet!
At the Liberal Democrat Conference, we linked up with Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform who were talking to members at a stall in the exhibition centre. MVM met with MPs like Tim Farron and Nick Clegg and many supportive Lib Dem peers, and had the opportunity to discuss plans to push forward the campaign for fair votes in the near future - including Alistair Carmichael MP's co-sponsorship of our Early Day Motion for PR.
We even had the chance to raise PR with MPs at the Cooperative Party Conference - finding firm opposition amongst known defenders of FPTP like Gavin Shuker, but openness or support from others like Anna Turley and newcomer Jim McMahon. We caught up with some of the key staff again at the Labour Party Conference and started making plans to develop the conversation about electoral reform within the Coop Party.
Trade Union Congress
And at Trade Union Congress in Brighton, we ran a fringe event attended by Ian Lawrence (Napo), Labour MPs Jonathan Reynolds and Clive Lewis, Tommy Sheppard MP (SNP), Jonathan Bartley (co-leader of the Green Party) and Mary Southcott (Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform). It was a great discussion and a video of the highlights will be available shortly.