Happening On Campus

UON Hosts Labour Campaign For Electoral Reform

Joanne Hamilton

Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER), is an organisation pushing ‘’for a participatory democracy in which everyone feels they have a meaningful stake.’’ On Thursday 19th October, Reed James, LCER’s Vice-Chair and Youth Officer, took the stage at a University of Nottingham event, facilitated by UON’s Labour Students, to spark a conversation about electoral form and the constitution at large.

Reed James, the speaker from LCER, argued that the current First Past the Post voting system is, to its core,undemocratic”, and reform is much needed.

“Hereditary peers, loyal MPs to previous leaders…” [Reed James]

The organisation advocates for a series of democratic reforms. Reed James focused, firstly, on reducing the voting age to sixteen noting that ‘’the younger you vote, the more likely it is to become a life-long habit’’.

James also delved into what he views as the necessary reformation of the House of Lords, drawing from the insights of the Brown Report, which suggests options like downsizing the chamber, pursuing complete devolution, or limiting its powers.

“Electoral Reform is the most important change to the constitution” [Reed James]

When explaining why the alteration to the House of Lords would be necessary, James focused specifically on the make-up of the chamber being ‘’hereditary peers, loyal MPs to previous leaders, and individuals who donated a vast amount of money’’.

James focused on what he called the conservative bias and the unrepresentative nature of our current system, and argued that ‘’Electoral Reform is the most important change to the constitution’’, focusing on the necessity for a government who focuses on the needs of the public, not just those of Westminster.

James underscored the issue of centralisation within Westminster, stating that it neglects the concerns of local communities, leaving “many powers and our councils powerless.”

Electoral Reform has garnered widespread support within the Labour Party.

“The next Labour government must change the voting system” [ Reed James]

83% of Labour Party members expressed their backing for a change to the UK’s electoral system in 2021. The 2022 Labour party conference saw the Labour party vote in favour of a manifesto commitment to proportional representation for general elections.

This commitment stipulated that ‘’During its first term in office the next Labour government must change the voting system for general elections to a form of PR.’’

James, conveyed this news with enthusiasm, and highlighted the organisation’s intentions to ‘’hold the Labour Party accountable to this promise’’.

Among the talk’s attendees were members of UON’s Labour Students, including their co-chair, Ben Duffy.

When asked about the benefits of electoral reform for students, Ben replied ‘’Young people are singularly disadvantaged, faced with issues such as affordable housing and repayable student debts. Proportional representation could allow issues such as these to be centred conversations in government.’’

“Student voting is quite low” [member of Nottingham’s Labour Students]

Duffy also stated that a ‘’left of centre government would be beneficial to students and young people as a whole’’.

Another committee member, who chose to remain anonymous, echoed Duffy’s sentiments noting that ‘’Student voting is quite low’’, and proportional representation would make students and young people alike feel as though the government is ‘’paying attention rather than just ignoring them’’, fostering greater engagement.

If you’re interested in learning more about LCER’s mission, you can find more information here.

Joanne Hamilton

Featured image courtesy of Parker Johnson via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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