Sheffield for Democracy has today published a report on its supporters’ experiences with the seven Community Assemblies in Sheffield. This report has been drawn up in parallel with an ongoing public consultation it is holding about the wider Sheffield public’s experiences and comes as Sheffield for Democracy have issued open letters to leaders of the political parties on Sheffield City Council.
The key message of this report is that people do not want the future of Community Assemblies to become a political football between the two main parties.
The current Community Assemblies should be seen as a starting point for discussion, with room for development and change, and not things as they are being defended at all costs. No one who had experience of the Assemblies felt that they should be disbanded. Several supporters believe that it would be a great loss if the Assemblies were disbanded or curtailed to the point where Council business was merely reported rather than discussed.
The Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER) has today issued a briefing in response to the White Paper on Individual Electoral Registration. It comes in advance of this Wednesday’s (19th October) Opposition Day debate on the subject.
The LCER are generally in favour of Individual Electoral Registration and have welcomed the opportunity to debate the White Paper, however:
“There is a real risk to the democratic process in the combination of IER, voluntary registration, lack of funding for local authorities for the canvass and particularly for those in our society who have little voice at the moment, complete disenfranchisement. The implication for the next boundary review could be near fatal for democracy and for Labour.”
You can download the full briefing here: LCER Briefing on Individual Voter Registration (Word Document, 78KB)
Activists in the newly-formed group “Sheffield for Democracy” Group commemorated the Act passed by the Government of Lloyd George in 1911 by calling on the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, to support a 100% elected Upper Chamber of Parliament
Campaigning for an elected Lords, members of the group are calling for reform of the House as a second chamber, to be chosen by the public, replacing the current chamber which has been chosen by the present and previous Governments, the Church of England, and the remaining 92 hereditary peers. They believe the time is overdue for progress in implementing this one hundred year old commitment. Lords reform is supported in various ways by the three main political parties; it was in the manifestos in the General Election in May 2010, but has frequently been ignored as a legislative priority: “the time is not now”. The Group says: “With draft proposals now being looked at by a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, the time is ripe to make progress.
On Saturday 13 August the Group provided the Citizens of Sheffield with the opportunity to sign up to a letter to Nick Clegg at their stall outside Town Hall.
“Sheffield for Democracy” is an informal group set up by local campaigners, many of whom were involved in the “Yes” Campaign in the May 2011 referendum. It is linked to national organisations: the Electoral Reform Society; and Unlock Democracy. These campaign for greater democracy; an informed populace; citizens rights; a fairer voting system; more accurate representation of the public will in Parliament.
The Parliament Act was finally passed by the House of Lords on August 10th 1911 under then Prime Minister Lloyd George, after unelected peers had moved to block his ‘people’s budget’, for which he had a strong electoral mandate. which formally committed Parliament to replacing the House of Lords with a democratic second chamber for the first time, The act allows the elected House of Commons to overrule the will of the unelected House of Lords.
The start of the Act states that “it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation.” 100 years later, that commitment has still not been realised.