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This is What Democracy Looks Like: Building A Politics For The Many

August 31, 2019

This is What Democracy Looks Like Conference
Credit: PFTM,

Throughout history, the labour movement has been at the forefront in demanding progressive change to address the big challenges of the era. Today, the UK faces a social, political and democratic crisis. Yet the democratic crisis – the breakdown of trust, the divide between the rulers and the ruled – has often gone ignored.

200 years ago in Manchester, tens of thousands of people at St Peter’s Square changed history when they bravely stood – and many fell – fighting for Parliamentary representation.

Each generation, democracy must be defended, remade and revitalised. Today it is time to rebuild our democracy.

Our political system is undeniably broken. Power is held by the few, not the many. We need a vision for a political system where people feel their voice is heard, where ideas can be tested and debated on a level playing field, and where our institutions – local and national – are responsive and accessible to the millions.

This conference will address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in campaigning for real democracy today. Meeting these challenges is not an optional extra for the labour movement – it is part of its historic purpose. If we don’t act, much darker forces will emerge to speak for the voiceless.

“This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Building A Politics For The Many” will be the launch pad for a new campaign for a political system that works for all of us. It is not to be missed.


Book Tickets


9am doors open and registration

10am Welcome and housekeeping

10.15 – 11.15 Launch Plenary

“Then And Now: Overhauling Our Broken Democracy” Looking back on the legacy of Peterloo – and the labour movement’s role in our democratic history. What lessons can we take, to inform a vision for the kind of democracy we need?

  • Paul Mason – Journalist and author
  • Lynn Henderson – Politics for the Many Chair and PCS National Officer for Scotland and Ireland
  • Katy Ashton – Director, Manchester People’s History Museum

11.15 – 12.30 Morning Workshops

The People Demand – Voices from those ‘locked out’ of democracy.

1. Women in politics: how to breakthrough the barriers?

  • Cllr Eve Holt, Manchester Chorlton and Director Happen Together CIC
  • Nicola Waterworth, Director Happen Together

2. The power of community: Energising local democracy

  • Jess Blair – ERS Cymru
  • Ed Cox – Director of Public Services & Communities RSA
  • Sue Bowen – Former Coordinator, East Manchester Community Forum
  • Pauline Grandison – Act As If You Own the Place

3. Locked out: 200 years after Peterloo, why the poorest are still the least represented

  • Michela Palese – Research and Policy Officer, ERS
  • Ian Allinson – President, Manchester TUC
  • Charlotte Hughes – Writer, Thepoorsideof.life
  • Dawn Foster – Columnist
  • Penny Hicks – Manchester People’s Assembly

4. Missing voices: Young people, minorities and the political system

  • Poppy Turner – Manchester Momentum
  • Rick Burgess – Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
  • Dr Katy Sian – Lecturer in Sociology
  • Emma Greenwood – UK Student Climate Network

12.30 – 1.15 – lunch (we suggest you bring a packed lunch)

1.15 – 2.15 Middle Plenary

“Transforming The World: A Democratic Revolution to Win Social Change”
Delivering social change requires a revolution in how we do democracy. Join us for this inspiring session.

  • Dr Jess Garland – Electoral Reform Society
  • Jon Trickett MP – Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
  • Cllr Amna Abdullatif – Manchester Ardwick

2.15 – 3.30 Afternoon Workshops

The Change We Need – Taking the provocations from the workshops Round 1 and the middle plenary, we go into more detail about our ideas for reform and key discussions around what works, and what doesn’t.

1. Westminster isn’t working: what does a democracy for the many look like?

  • Shavanah Taj – Vice President, Wales TUC
  • Christine Berry – Author, Preparing for a Corbyn Government
  • Pauline Bryan – Labour Peer
  • Julie Ward MEP – Labour, North West

2. Delivering economic transformation: why does democratic reform matter?

  • Michela Palese – Research and Policy Officer, ERS
  • James Meadway – Former Economic Advisor to John McDonnell
  • Sam Tarry – President of Class & National Political Officer TSSA
  • Mathew Lawrence – Common Wealth
  • Hilary Wainwright – Editor, Red Pepper

3. A corrupt constitution: how do we rebuild trust in our political system?

  • Jess Blair – ERS Cymru
  • Adam Ramsay – Editor, Open Democracy
  • Sarah Clarke – Policy and Communications, Unlock Democracy

4. Where do we go from here? How do we build a movement for real democracy?

  • Lynn Henderson – Politics for the Many Chair and PCS National Officer for Scotland and Ireland

3.30 – 4.30 Closing Plenary

“Politics For The Many: A New Movement for Democracy”

  • Willie Sullivan – ERS Scotland
  • Holly Rigby – Momentum
  • James Meadway – Former Economic Advisor to John McDonnell

Book Tickets



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