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Cambridge Electoral Reform Group - The Big Meet Up

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Come and hear inspiring speakers and join the debate on how we can get a change to proportional representation for electing our parliament.

Speakers in order of appearance: 

Julian Huppert:

Julian grew up in Cambridge, serving as a Councillor and then as the Member of Parliament from 2010-2015. He is also an academic, and currently working on how to do public policy properly:  he teaches about the use of evidence in the University of Cambridge’s Masters in Public Policy. He has been a long-term member of the Electoral Reform Society, and cannot remember ever having thought the current system made sense. 

Lord Balfe:

Richard has spent almost 50 years in various parts of the political scene. He was in the Labour Party for many years before being expelled by Tony Blair at the end of 2001. He joined the Conservatives in March 2002. From 2008 to 2013 he was the Conservative envoy to the Trades’ Union movement and since 2013 has been a member of the House of Lords. Richard joined the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER) in the 1980s and has been an advocate of electoral reform for around 30 years. His 25 years as an elected member of the European Parliament mixing with other parliamentarians from countries that used a variety of PR systems left him convinced that most of the arguments against electoral reform are self-serving and essentially spurious.

Cliff Grout:

Cliff first joined the Green Party in 1988, standing in a number of local elections, and was Chair of the Worcester local group for a while. He is currently a member of Compass, Unlock Democracy and the Liberal Democrats, having joined that party to be able to campaign more effectively for proportional representation. Cliff is the founder of the on-line pressure group Pro-PR which calls for an opposition electoral pact to campaign solely for PR.

Pete Mills, Policy Officer Unlock Democracy.

John Cochrane:  

John is a member of the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy. While serving on Oxfordshire County Council he represented three political parties, the SDP, Alliance and then the Liberal Democrats. He recently successfully proposed at the Unlock Democracy AGM the motion, “Unlock Democracy should encourage and facilitate all the political parties in the UK who are in favour of PR to fight the next election in 2020 as an Alliance”.

Tom Pratt:  

Tom is representing the online group Make Votes Matter today. He has been involved in the electoral reform movement since the Take Back Parliament campaign, and currently chairs the Unlock Democracy Birmingham Group.

Rupert Read:  

Rupert is a Reader in Philosophy working at the University of East Anglia. His key research interests are in green philosophy and economics, where he has published extensively in many leading outlets, including CRISPP, Capitalism, Nature Socialism and the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment. Outside of academia, Rupert chairs the environmental think-tank Green House – an organisation created to investigate and advance  environmental policies and economics. He is a leading member of the Green Party, having been a former two-term city councillor in Norwich, and only narrowly defeated candidate in two elections for the European parliament. He is currently the Green Party's national transport spokesperson and stood as Cambridge’s 2015 Green Party candidate, which saw the Greens returned to the council for the first time in a number of years. The Green Party won 1 seat at the last general election, but under a proportional system would have won 24. Unsurprisingly the Greens have been long-time advocates of voting reform.

Daniel Zeichner:  is currently Member of Parliament for Cambridge; he is an organiser for Labour's Campaign for a Democratic Upper House; Teller for the Proportional Representation Bill in Parliament; a leading member of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, and a contributor to the annual “Make Votes Count” event at the Labour Party Conference.  

Timetable for conference:

10.00 -1030:   Coffee in the Octagon Room;    (Please enter the nave for the conference promptly for 10.30, but do not bring coffee cups or food into the nave).

10.30 - Welcome to speakers and co-chair of conference, Cliff Grout of the ProPR group; general information for visitors, and opening address by Eve Steadman, Chair of the Cambridge Electoral Reform Group (CERG).

10.50 – Julian Huppert speaking for 10 minutes

11.00 - followed by audience Q&A for 15 minutes

11.15 – Lord Balfe speaking for 10 minutes

11.25 – followed audience Q&A for 15 minutes

11.40 - Cliff Grout speaking for 10 minutes

11.50 - followed by audience Q&A for 15 minutes

12.05 – Discussion between 3 previous speakers for 20 minutes

12.25 - 13.25 (lunch—one hour)

13.25 – Pete Mills and John Cochrane speaking for 15 minutes

13.40 - followed by audience Q&A for 20 minutes

14.00 – Tom Pratt speaking for 10 minutes

14.10 – followed by audience Q&A for 15 minutes

14.25 – Rupert Read speaking for 10 minutes

14.35 – followed by audience Q&A for 15 minutes

14.50 - Discussion between 4 previous speakers for 20 minutes

15.10 – BREAK—(30 minutes)

15.40 – Daniel Zeichner MP speaking for 10 minutes

15.50 – followed by audience Q&A for 15 minutes

16.05: General audience and speaker discussion of strategies and plans for immediate future. Exchange of contact details; 

17.00:  Official closing time of conference, but if wanted, guests can continue discussion and   planning, with refreshments, in Octagon room for another hour or so.

End of time table for conference

Later Event: February 29
Opening of Nominations