[personal profile] matgb
As a result of their free membership offer, I joined the ERS in July, and received my ballot papers for their Council elections yesterday morning. Several people I know, including two old friends and a few new ones, are competing for my vote. So I need to think it through and prioritise people.

One of the candidates, Chris Carrigan, has written some notes on the elections on the Reform groups site, which was founded in large part by activists heavily involved in the Yes referendum campaign who were very disgruntled with central leadership. I, broadly, shared those worries and concerns, and will be giving those involved, broadly, fairly high preferences, although nowhere near the order Chris has outlined.

Partially because Andrew Hickey has raised some concerns having read through the full set of manifestos already and noticed things I didn't. As I've said in the comments there, I know in some cases his concerns aren't justified, but can't say that for all the candidates.

So, I still need to decide my full running order, but the early ones are fairly close to fixed in my mind.

First up is my old friend Thom Oliver ([twitter.com profile] Thomoli) who I sent many many hours studying with while we were both at Exeter. For a Somerset boy, he isn't that bad, and given I'm not standing, someone I closely agree with on most things and know personally is a good choice. In addition, on his Q&A blog post he raises a very important issue that links into one of the reasons we both favour STV:
the big question is why are only 6 of the 53 candidates women, that's an issue that needs to be addressed.
I would like to see the Council representative of those that want change. That low a proportion of women, and a tiny number of visible BME candidates, is problematic, even if the position and nomination criteria are entirely self selected.

Next up is another old friend, Paul Pettinger. I also met Paul in Exeter, but got to know him predominantly through activism-while serving on Exeter city council, he made national and international news when he kicked up a royal stink about prayers at the beginning of each council meeting. When I worked in Cowley St he had recently finished work there for Liberal Youth, and on my last day very nicely took me to lunch in Parliament using his researchers pass. Since then he's done some sterling work for the British Humanist Association (I unknowingly attended an event he'd organised involving Richard Dawkins and thoroughly enjoyed) and now works for Accord, another organisation I agree with and admire the work of. I agree with him on many issues, get on well with him, and think he'd be a credit to the society, as well as able to work with others to push it in the right direction.

My third choice goes to Arnie Craven ([twitter.com profile] ArnieEtc), who was the Leeds coordinator of the Yes campaign, and shared my utter frustration at the tactics, the campaign material and the incompetence. I know him personally through that, and like him. More importantly, I disagree with him politically. He's a member of UKIP, although doesn't agree with the party line on a number of policies, and he's absolutely right that the complete failure of reformers, especially the Yes campaign, to reach out to those on the right who currently default to voting Tory but would rather not was a massive contributory factor to the loss of the referendum-many Tory members and voters used to prominently favour electoral reform, and Tories aren't the only people on the notional british 'right'. He's also been prominently involved in the Reform Groups movement and is part of their slate, and has shown a strong ability to work with people he disagrees with and campaign well.

Fourth is the first female candidate, someone I've not yet met but have heard very good things about, Jessica Asato ([twitter.com profile] jessica_asato). She's a prominent Labour campaigner and also part of the Reform slate. People I know, from across many parties, speak very highly of her and the work she was doing during the referendum.

Fifth is Andrew May ([twitter.com profile] andymay101), author of this blistering attack on the organisational structure of the Yes Campaign and about whom both Arnie (above) and the Regional coordinator for Yorkshire, Jane, have said very good things about. He's part of the reform slate, and is likely to get on the council, due to his exposure.

Up to now, all those I've listed have been pro reform of the way the ERS works, although the top two aren't on the Reform slate. My sixth choice? Is the complete opposite of a reformer. He's someone who's talents and abilities I have so much respect for that even if we do disagree on the future of the society, I'd want him to be heavily involved and giving the benefits of his decades of experience. I refer, of course, to Michael Meadowcroft (Wikipedia entry).

Former Liberal MP, former President-elect of the Liberal Party at the time it merged with the SDP, and then founder and first leader of the continuity Liberal party that continues to this day as a small voice in Britihs politics. He objected to the merger, I agreed with it, but his objections were sound and principled, and he effectively sacrificed his chances of returning to front line national politics as a result of them. In 2007, he decided to rejoin the LibDems (Opinion: Why I joined the Liberal Democrats) after several years working in transitioning democracies in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, and his reasons for rejoining were sound. I've heard him speak in debates at conference and in fringe meetings, his ability to command respect from all around him while making a strong point is something to behold, and his knowledge & experience is not something I would want the ERS to lose despite my belief change is needed.

To be honest, due to my knowledge of how STV and vote transfers work, I'm not sure after the last three I'll have much left to transfer on to others as I suspect and hope the last three I list will definitely get elected due to name recognition. Consequently I'm open to suggestions for my remaining preferences, I plan to vote for at least 15 people (the size of the Council), but a small fraction of quota after Michael gets on is likely largely irrelevent. Worth paying some attention to though, as I may be completely wrong and misread the field.

I'm also open to persuasion/suggestion if you know anyone else on the candidates list personally or politically and feel I've unfairly overlooked them. I may simply go with the order from Chris's above list, but I'm not sure how confident I am about some of those he favours. For example, Amisha Ghadiali is [one of] the only [two] visibly BAME candidates, and she appears competent, however her statement both on the website and in the ballot pack is riddled with typing and spelling errors, in one case her actual meaning is unclear. While I'm notorious for typos and similar, if I'm submitting something important for campaigning purposes, I always get a competent proofreader, that's just basic.

To most of you, of course, this is all completely irrelevent, as membership of the ERS is an unusual thing to say the least. However of my personal friends, the proportion involved is higher than the general population, and I welcome feedback from anyone with any interest or knowledge.

ETA: It's been pointed out in comments that I overlooked Eric Syddique when I wrote that line, it's now amended.

ERS Council elections

Date: 2011-08-14 07:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hello, another BME candidate is Eric Syddique. He also knows probably more about the ins and outs of STV than anyone else alive.
Paul Z. Temperton

ERS Election

Date: 2011-08-14 10:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I agreed strongly with most of Andy May’s analysis of the reasons for the referendum defeat and, to be fair to him, he was the most helpful and co-operative of all the Yes campaign staff to me as a local organizer.

However, it is a bit rich for some to heap all the blame for defeat on the shoulders of the present ERS Council. After all, the Yes campaign staff ran the campaign.

The ERS’s main mistake was to hand large sums of money to the Yes campaign and let them get on with the campaign without sufficient oversight and accountability., but the Yes staff ran it and they lost it. I would not have confidence in their ability to govern the ERS for the next two years.
There is more about this on http://www.stvaction.org.uk

Certainly, like any other governing body, the ERS Council could do with new blood but that happens at every election anyway and there will be at least six new members this year because six of the present members are not standing for re-election.

Also like any other governing body, the ERS needs continuity and experience just as much as it needs new blood, so members should vote for a mixture of the old and new.

I strongly recommend members not to vote for organized factions but for the best individuals. I very much appreciate how present Council members, from different backgrounds and political persuasions, work together for the ERS. Purely by chance because each was thought best at the time, the last three Chairs have been a Conservative ex-MP, a Liberal Democrat Councillor and currently a Labour Councillor.


Hon. Treasurer, Electoral Reform Society
Chairman, Make Votes Count in West Sussex (& “Yes” Organizer in West Sussex)
Candidate for ERS Council, 2011

sir_guinglain: (Default)

Date: 2011-08-14 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
Thanks for this and for the links. I might be rethinking my choices as a result.

Date: 2011-08-14 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm2Id9HW8811u3cEWoBtU-ILOBgfPZwN0E
I was also a little disturbed by the mistakes in Amisha Ghadiali's statement, but I think I'm going to rank her highly anyway. She was one of the few "celebrity" spokespeople who actually impressed me during the AV campaign, coming over competent and actually engaged with the cause.

Date: 2011-08-14 04:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlvNego0jw5YEcFNj-bHCZsjEXkME928j4
Huh. It looks like I've not mastered using my Google account as my OpenID. Sorry about that. James Clayton here. I was the Bradford coordinator for Yes to Fairer Votes, so worked with Arnie and Jane during the campaign.
ext_550458: (Clegg checks the omens)

Date: 2011-08-17 09:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
I was a bit surprised to read what you'd written here a couple of days ago about Michael Meadowcroft, given my limited personal experience of him. I've only come across him once, and that was at a meeting of our local post-AV group, Leeds for Reform. But I was pretty unimpressed by my observation of him there. He behaved arrogantly and dismissively towards pretty much everybody else in the room, and was inclined to derail the discussion onto points of trivia which did nothing to move the debate forward (and everything to help ensure that he was the centre of attention).

It's also pretty telling that that is the only time I've met him personally, given how heavily involved I was in the Leeds Yes campaign. The fact is that he did absolutely nothing whatsoever to help with that at any stage at all - and that alone would make me severely disinclined to vote for him as an ERS council member.

I didn't comment to say this earlier, as that is just my personal experience, and since I'm still pretty new in both LibDem and electoral reform circles, it may not be representative. But I did notice that in the pub after the Leeds for Reform meeting which he attended, people who've been deeply involved in local LibDem politics for a long time (e.g. a local councillor, a former chair of Leeds Liberal Youth) seemed to regard the behaviour I'd observed in the meeting as entirely typical of him. The impression I got was that he is strongly disliked by people who've worked closely with him.

Last night in the pub I got the chance to sound out one of those people in a bit more detail, with what you'd written here fresh in my mind, and that impression was further confirmed. The word seems to be that his approach to campaigning is out-dated (e.g. he refuses to target winnable areas, preferring to rely on a general dissemination of a 'liberal message'), that he is dismissive of suggestions to change approach, and that his tenure as Chair of the Campaign and Development Group has been a disaster for the party locally.

Obviously, on one level that's just hear-say from sources who I'm choosing not to name in a public post in case he reads it (though I'll be happy to tell you their names in person). But I was just struck by the diametrically opposite impression of him which I've picked up from Leeds LibDems, by comparison with what you've said here. You may already have cast your vote, so I don't know if this comment comes too late now anyway. But I certainly won't be ranking him myself.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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