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Blog Archive

STV for civil society

Submitted by editor on Wed, 31/08/2011 – 11:54

Almost any club, trade union, professional institute etc could benefit from STV. STV ensures fair representation of all points of view within the organization and protects it from being completely taken over by the largest faction even if that faction represents fewer than half the voting members.

The PR systems debate does not apply to voluntary organizations because they do not have parties so list and hybrid systems just would not work. STV is the only PR system to consider.

This is not just a side issue for those of us whose main aim is to introduce STV for the election of MPs, Councillors etc. It is a step on the way. By getting club members etc used to voting by STV, we make STV more known and more accepted as the normal way of voting. This should ease its introduction for public elections.

For practical advice on this, please click on “Resources” above and then on “Getting an Organisation you belong to Use STV”. I cannot guarantee that the information is completely up to date, but would welcome any help that you can give. Please tell us if you know of any organizations to add to, or remove from, the list of those that use STV.

There is also a resolution (No. 6 “Plan for success”) proposed for the ERS’s Annual Meeting on Saturday 3 September. Among other things, it calls on the ERS to encourage the use of preferential voting for membership organizations.

ERS members support STV for civil society

Submitted by editor on Mon, 05/09/2011 – 16:37.

In the advisory ballots, ERS members voted 415 – 99 for this resolution while those at the Annual Meeting on 3 September voted 30 – 23 in favour.

ERS Council election result

Submitted by editor on Tue, 30/08/2011 – 14:15


The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) practices what it preaches by using the Single Transferable Vote (STV). It is a vindication of STV that the ERS Council has a balance of backgrounds and political affiliation – plus an increase back to one-third women.

Fifteen candidates, out of 53, were elected by STV to the ERS Council on 30 August. In alphabetical order, they are:

Jessica Asato
John Ault
Jonathan Bartley
Andrew Burns*
Chris Carrigan
Clare Coatman
Arnie Craven
Amy Dodd
George Gabriel
Amisha Ghadiali
Annabelle Harle
Andrew May
Michael Meadowcroft*
Keith Sharp*
Anthony Tuffin*


For detailed results, visit and click on “Results by round”.


Submitted by editor on Sat, 03/11/2012 – 18:12.

Arnie Craven resigned from the ERS Council on 13 July 2012 and was replaced, in accordance with the ERS’s rules, by Keith Best (a former Chair of Council).

Jonathan Bartley resigned from the ERS Council on 15 September 2012 and was replaced, in accordance with the ERS’s rules, by Ben Lille.

Why I’m standing again for the ERS Council and what I’d like for the future

Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Tue, 23/08/2011 – 22:34

I have written three blogs on to explain my position, partly in response to those who seemingly wish to group candidates together and throw all existing members off Council, but mainly to set out my ideas for the future. This summarizes them.

1) Success and Mistakes

The ERS must continue to build on the success of helping to persuade over 6 million people to vote for a preferential voting system and has taken the first step by offering free membership for a year.

It must learn from the mistake of not having enough money by creating a substantial fighting fund.

2) Stability & evolution – not factionalism

The ERS needs the experience of some existing Council members and the fresh ideas of new ones, but must avoid descending into factionalism.

3) Focusing the ERS’s interests to be effective

The ERS’s resources are not unlimited and every penny we spend on peripheral activities means one penny less for our core ones. Not only that but, although we are united in our desire for STV, we cannot expect all members to support other campaigns so they can be divisive.

As individuals or as members of other organizations such as Unlock Democracy, we may well support other campaigns but not through the ERS.

The ERS must create a substantial fighting fund for its next major campaign and, in the meantime, should lead a campaign for STV in English and Welsh local government.

Do please look at for more details.

ERS members call for fighting fund & STV for local government

Submitted by editor on Mon, 05/09/2011 – 21:19.

ERS members agreed at their Annual Meeting on 3 September that they want to create a fighting fund and to campaign for STV for English and Welsh local government elections.

Reject Special Resolution 4 (Election and Retirement of Members of Council)

Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Tue, 23/08/2011 – 13:24

Special Resolution 4 for the ERS’s AGM this year, in essence, calls for Council members to be elected every year and for their length of office to be restricted. Although these proposals may seem democratic to those who do not know the background, they are undesirable.

Those who want to change the ERS may mean well, but I do wish they had at least asked why things were as they were instead of charging in with their proposals.

The Society used to elect its Council annually, but the Society’s members, not the Council, decided democratically in 2004 (supported by more than 75% of those who voted) to change to biennial elections.

Between about 1998 and 2004, the Society was severely split by factionalism. Eventually the Council appointed a Special Commission to investigate the divisions in the Society and make recommendations to re-unite it.

One of the recommendations was to hold elections less often than once a year. Although Council accepted most of the recommendations, it was divided (although not on factional lines) on this one and decided that, as a body, it would take no action.

However, two Council members, from formerly opposing factions, proposed biennial elections to the 2004 AGM and the members supported the change overwhelmingly. The two Council members were the late Nina Fishman and I, who had often bitterly disagreed in the past but were united on this and I remain convinced that our action helped considerably to restore unity to the Society.

The proposer of the resolution has alleged that the change from annual to biennial elections was partly due to cost. THIS IS TOTALLY UNTRUE. I know because I was one of the movers of the resolution in 2004.

The key arguments were, and remain:

• Council meets only 3 or 4 times a year so newly elected members barely had time to understand their role, get to know their colleagues and become familiar with procedures before they faced re-election and possible dismissal.
• Annual elections, in which Council colleagues became rival candidates, encouraged disagreement and factionalism instead of agreement and collegiality.

The Society considered limiting terms of office in 1996 but rejected the idea. It discovered that, between 1984 and 1996, an average of 4.8 Council members (nearly a third) were replaced in each election. I do not have figures for later years but I guess they would be similar; this year, there will be at least 6 new Council members because that many of the existing Council members are retiring voluntarily. This provides the Society with a mixture of experience and new blood; stability and evolution.

I urge ERS members to vote AGAINST Special Resolution 4 (Election and Retirement of Members of Council).

ERS rejected proposed changes to electing Council members

Submitted by editor on Mon, 05/09/2011 – 08:59.

ERS members accepted their Council’s advice and voted by 313 (56.5%)to 241 (43.5%) at their AGM on 3 September against changing the rules for electing the Council.

Because the resolution was to amend the constitution, it would have needed 75% of the votes to succeed so, with only 43.5%, it was defeated decisively.

ERS Supporter Conference and AGM 3 September 2011

Submitted by editor on Mon, 22/08/2011 – 22:51

Venue: Max Nasatyr Room, Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, 108 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH. The Annual General Meeting is your chance to have your say in the future of the Electoral Reform Society.

Members of the Society have the opportunity to take part in the formal business of electing our new Council, pass Special Resolutions to amend our governing documents and debate resolutions on the policies and activities of the Society.

Before the AGM the morning conference is a chance for both members and supporters to hear from influential figures in the field of electoral reform, and to network with like-minded people, interested in improving our democracy.

For more information contact

ERS candidates for STV

Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Sun, 21/08/2011 – 12:22

STV is the only voting system that offers real voter choice and proportional representation of voters’ views (not just of parties).

The following candidates in the ERS Council election have all expressed unequivocal support for STV in their election statements. They may differ in their enthusiasm and you may also want to consider other matters, so you should read their statements yourself before deciding in what order to vote for them. The order below is the order in which their names appeared when I word-searched for “STV” on the ERS website:

Peter Jackson
Anthony Tuffin
Annabelle Harle
Peter Morley
Philip Cole
Keith Underhill
Simon Gazeley
Michael Meadowcroft
Keith Sharp
Crispin Allard
Keith Best
Andrew Burns
John Cartwright
Jim Woodward-Nutt
Eric Syddique

In addition, the following express qualified support for STV:

Peter Hirst: “I firmly believe in proportional electoral systems providing enhanced voter choice.” “…a successful campaign to achieve a proportional system SUCH AS STV.”

Benjamin Lille: “I believe that STV is A suitable system for electing Members of Parliament”

Arnie Craven: He wants to “Broaden the scope of the ERS. We should seek to campaign for STV whenever we can, BUT democratic reform encompasses more than just electoral systems.”

The following mention that they have run STV elections, but don’t state that they support STV, although you could ask them:

Paul Pettinger
Grayden Webb

According to the word search, the other 33 candidates have not mentioned STV.

Current ERS issues

Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Sat, 20/08/2011 – 21:00

A few notes on current ERS issues from someone who was both a very frustrated county organizer (covering eight constituencies) during the AV referendum campaign and an ERS Council member and Officer:

• The ERS Council, like Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, provided money for the campaign and, also like the Trust, did not run the campaign.

• Yes in May 2011 Ltd was the only organization registered with the Electoral Commission to run the campaign and was entirely responsible for running it.

• Now some of the Yes in May employees think they are qualified to run the ERS.

• The ERS Council and Officers, including me, constantly asked Yes in May to improve the campaign.

• Local activists, including me, also constantly asked Yes in May to improve the campaign.

• In particular, I kept asking Yes in May to release to local organizers the database that I knew it had from the previous Vote for a Change campaign, but it refused to do so. Most local organizers did not even know the database existed but, if they had had it, they would have had a ready-made core of contacts.

• Between about 1998 and 2004, the ERS and its Council were bitterly divided between factions. They voted for candidates in internal elections mainly according to which faction they represented. They often voted on policy and governance issues by factions.

• The factions were dissolved by mutual agreement in 2004 and votes on candidates and issues were decided on their merits. Indeed, there have been few votes in Council since then. Members of the former factions and newer Council members have all worked harmoniously together in the interest of the ERS. They come from all three main political parties and from none.

• This harmony may well be destroyed by the so-called “reform group” contesting the current election as an organized faction.

• Some candidates say they want the ERS to spend its money more wisely AND they want it to extend its campaigning to more issues! Before you vote for them if you are an ERS member, I advise you to ask them whether they want the money spent more wisely OR on more campaigns.

• One of the problems with the AV campaign was a shortage of money. If anything, perhaps the ERS should have saved money for the referendum by campaigning less in the past on peripheral issues.


Hon. Treasurer, Electoral Reform Society since 2008
Chairman, Make Votes Count in West Sussex since 1999
Candidate for ERS Council 2011.

Lessons from the referendum

Submitted by editor on Mon, 05/09/2011 – 09:08.

The ERS plans to hold a special meeting later this year to discuss the lessons of the AV referendum campaign.

Ex-Chair endorses ERS Council candidates

Submitted by editor on Sat, 20/08/2011 – 12:54


As a former Chairman of ERS who has decided to retire after 20 years on the Council, can I nevertheless ask ERS members to support the Society’s existing team who not only have an excellent record in turning the ERS round in recent years into the UK’s leading organisation campaigning for electoral and constitutional reform but also have a strong track record of running the Society successfully.

Without the Society’s recent successes there would not have been much of the funding that the “Yes” campaign was able to draw on. That success was not just achieved by grassroots campaigning. it also needed a huge turnaround of the management of hugely valuable assets of the electoral reform movement. Until recently the ERS was a joke in the national electoral reform movement. In every previous major national electoral reform initiative it has been bypassed with organisations like National Campaign for Electoral Reform in the 1970s. The Society’s campaigning role was my priority in the five years of my chairmanship and helped deliver PR by STV to Scottish local government.

The AV campaign was not one the Society would have asked for. Let’s face it. It was a half measure which most electoral reformers only supported half-heartedly. We knew it was the best that could be delivered via the coalition but that’s not the ERS’s fault.

The retiring council members seeking reelection are Andrew Burns, Keith Sharp, Crispin Allard, Anthony Tuffin, the core of the Society’s officers, Michael Meadowcroft who chaired the Society before me and is an invaluable contributor to the thinking necessary to promote the reform cause, as well as Jim Woodward-Nutt and Keith Underhill who have done valuable work over the years to keep STV up to date with changes in society so that, once the case for really fair voting is made, the rules adopted implement what voters want.

They have the proven skills to run a successful Society and deserve all members’ support.

Colin Rosenstiel

Keep STV as the ERS’s main object – Reject Special Resolution 1

Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Tue, 16/08/2011 – 21:47

The proposer of the resolution at this year’s Electoral Reform Society AGM to delete STV from the ERS’s object is half right. We can’t always campaign for STV, but that is no reason to abandon it as the ultimate aim.

The proposer asked in his supporting statement, “Is STV so important that we ruin our chances of getting any form of proportional representation?” This presupposes that keeping STV as the ERS’s main object would ruin our chances of getting any PR. That is wrong. It is nonsense. It didn’t prevent us from getting AMS for devolved government in Scotland and Wales. It didn’t prevent the ERS from campaigning for AMS then or for AV in the recent referendum.

A trade union may settle for a £50 rise when it has to (as we settled for AMS in Scotland and Wales) but that won’t stop it from asking for £100 in the first place and trying hard to get that before settling for less.

Going back to the question, “Is STV so important that we ruin our chances of getting any form of proportional representation?”, the answer really depends on what you want. It may not be so important for those who merely want party proportionality, but it is very important indeed for those of us who want:

• People proportionality;
• Maximum voter choice;
• Proportionality on cross-party issues;
• Fair representation of factions within parties;
• Only one type of MP with equal status;
• Strengthened links between MPs and constituents;
• Ability to vote against an individual candidate (e.g. because of incompetence or abuse of expenses) without voting against the party.

Only STV in multi-member constituencies offers all these advantages.

The Electoral Reform Society has frequently reviewed systems and concluded that STV is by far the best.

Far from helping the ERS to remain relevant, abandoning its principles and core aim would considerably reduce its relevance.

ERS members should vote AGAINST Special Resolution 1.

ERS members keep STV

Submitted by editor on Mon, 05/09/2011 – 09:03.

At its AGM on 3 September, ERS members accepted the Council’s advice and voted 356 (60%)to 237 (40%) to reject the proposal to remove STV from the Society’s objects.

Curiously for such a major proposal, the proposer and seconder did not even attend the meeting but, rather than allow the resolution to fall by default, another member moved it and it was defeated fairly and squarely.

Because the resolution was to amend the constitution, it would have needed 75% of the votes to succeed so, with only 40%, it was defeated decisively.

Israel needs STV

Submitted by editor on Tue, 16/08/2011 – 20:41

As most readers will know, Israel has a party list system of PR treating the whole country as one constituency. It is probably the most party proportionate system there is, but it denies a real choice to voters, over-empowers parties and encourages a proliferation of small parties which, in turn, can give them undue influence in the Knesset (parliament) Moreover, although all citizens have all the MPS, they don’t have any they can call their own as constituency members.

Now there is a call for reform:

Let’s hope, if there is reform, the Israelis don’t throw out the PR baby with the party list bathwater by switching to FPTP. STV would cure the faults mentioned above and also preserve and improve proportionality. The improvement would be to enable fair representation of views within parties; people proportionality.

STV could also help bring together some of the diverse religious groups in the country, the nation’s many immigrants from different countries and Jews and Arabs.



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