• Press release and invitation from the Politics for the Many. To attend/for media accreditation, please contact the Electoral Reform Society media office [email protected] or call 02037436064Spokespeople/speakers are available for interview in advance and on the day.
  • Event: Pendulum Hotel, Manchester, 31 August 2019

Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett will address hundreds of activists, trade unionists and political figures at a major conference on Britain’s ‘democratic crisis’ this month. 

Progressive campaigners will start to set out a vision for ‘real democracy’ on the 31st August, at an event in Manchester marking the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre – a pivotal point in the struggle for extending the franchise. Armed forces were sent in to break up a huge gathering on St Peter’s Field in 1819, and 18 were killed.

‘This is What Democracy Looks Like’ – hosted by the trade union-backed Politics for the Many group – will bring campaigners together to argue that the struggle for a better democracy must continue today.  

Speakers at the bicentenary conference will make a left-wing case for building a new constitutional settlement today, with workshops and panels looking at ‘missing voices’ in democracy, how to give power to regions and communities, and what reforms are needed to end ‘political inequality’ in the UK.

The event is backed by the Electoral Reform Society as well as the PCS and TSSA unions.

Journalist Paul Mason said:

“Nigel Farage and the Brexit party claim to be the champions of democracy – but we cannot cede that narrative to the hard right. It’s time the left put forward a transformational vision for a new democracy – a radically empowering constitutional settlement that takes control from the centre and gives it back to working people. 

“I’m delighted to be taking part in this conference, as we draw on our history while finding new answers to the constitutional chaos engulfing this country. Don’t miss it.”

Lynn Henderson, PCS National Officer and chair of Politics for the Many, said:

“200 years on from the Peterloo Massacre, our democracy is crying out for change and millions remain ignored by our political system. Working people have been cast aside by a broken Westminster set-up – whether that’s through an unelected House of Lords, or a Prime Minister handed power with no public election.  

“Democracy is in crisis in the UK – and it’s time to stand up and be counted. This is the start of a major campaign for political reform to build a politics for the many today.”

Speakers include:

  • Jon Trickett MP – Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
  • Paul Mason – Journalist and author
  • James Meadway – Former Economic Advisor to John McDonnell
  • Pauline Bryan – Labour Peer and constitutional thinker
  • Ian Allinson – President, Manchester TUC
  • Julie Ward MEP – Labour and cooperative MEP for the North West
  • Dawn Foster – Guardian columnist
  • Hilary Wainwright – Editor, Red Pepper
  • Katy Ashton – Director, Manchester People’s History Museum
  • Sue Bowen – Former Coordinator, East Manchester Community Forum
  • Christine Berry – Author, Preparing for a Corbyn Government
  • And many more (available on request)

The conference comes in the face of recent debate about shutting down Parliament to force through Brexit, and increasing public dissatisfaction with our democratic institutions. Theresa May is also set to appoint a dozen new unelected peers in her ‘resignation honours’.

Recent research by the Hansard Society found two thirds of people believe our governing needs ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ of improvement, while BMG polling for the Electoral Reform Society found just 4% of people feel properly able to influence decisions at Westminster [1].

Event Details:

ENDS

[1] https://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/publications/reports/audit-of-political-engagement-16 andhttps://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/poll-just-4-of-voters-feel-properly-represented-at-westminster/

Politics for the Many is the trade union campaign for political reform: http://politicsforthemany.co.uk

Its launch statement says:

From the Chartists pushing for universal suffrage, to the Scottish TUC’s role campaigning for a Scottish Parliament, trade unions have often been at the forefront of demands for a better democracy that puts working people at the centre.

100 years ago the Representation of the People Act was passed – extending the right to vote to many women and abolishing the requirement that men must hold property to vote.

Today, there is a new democratic frontier for trade unions in Britain: reforming Westminster’s creaking establishment. From a broken voting system, to an unelected House of Lords and denying 16 and 17 year olds the vote, Parliament is skewed towards a privileged few.

Trade unions exist for workers to stand up against concentrations of power and wealth. Today, our politics concentrates power to a handful of voters in wealthier swing seats, while throwing 22m votes in the electoral scrapheap. That’s a recipe for alienation and distrust.

Democracy is never a finished thing. We have to constantly struggle to remake democracy anew for each generation.

Today we are proud to launch Politics for the Many – the trade union campaign for political reform. If you are involved in a trade union, join us.

Launch signatories

Nancy Platts – Politics for the Many Campaign Co-ordinator and former trade union advisor to Jeremy Corbyn
Mark Serwotka – General Secretary, PCS
Howard Beckett – Assistant General Secretary Unite (in a personal capacity)
Billy Hayes – Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform
Ian Hodson – President, BFAWU
Sam Tarry – Political Officer TSSA and President of CLASS 

Mike Kirby – Scottish Secretary, Unison

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