Membership of a political party probably isn’t on many people’s Christmas list this year. Nowadays, there are more people who identify their religion as ‘Jedi’ than there are members of the Conservative party, and around the same as the number of Labour members.
The Electoral Reform Society recently published a new report – Open Up: the future of the political party. This is the first step in a long-term investigation into how parties – and particularly the older, more mainstream parties – can modernise to meet the needs of the 21stcentury voter.
Parties are a democratic necessity. At their best, they bridge the divide between politics and people and make our democracy work. They should be seen as part of the solution to political disengagement, not part of the problem.
But to achieve this, the British party system needs to catch up with the type of politics people want to see. Open Up sets out the challenges faced by the mainstream parties, the ways in which newer parties appear to be bucking the trend, and what the mainstream parties need to do to reconnect with people.
Based on polling in the 40 most marginal Labour-Conservative seats, as well as a survey of ERS members, supporters and the wider public, the report makes four core recommendations. These are:
- Increased role for non-members Parties’ experiments with involving non fee-paying supporters should be accelerated
- More member- and supporter-led policymaking People want to see an end to top-down, command-and-control politics
- Party funding reform Parties’ reliance on big donors is undermining people’s trust in them
- Electoral reform A fairer voting system would help meet people’s expectations of having a greater choice of parties and more consensual policymaking
And if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, please share our blog about the report launch so we can spread the word.
Best wishes, and season’s greetings,
Katie and the ERS Team