Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable backs online voting for trade union strike ballots

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable has called for the introduction of online voting for trade union strike ballots.

The announcement comes after criticism from the Conservative Party that strikes go ahead despite low turnouts.  The Conservatives have instead called for the introduction of minimum thresholds.

The Business Secretary is launching a special task force to look into the new approach.

The move reflects one of the ten recommendations in WebRoots Democracy’s recent ‘Viral Voting‘ report which stated that the Government ‘should overturn legislation blocking online voting in Trade Union ballots and introduce online voting for Trade Union strike ballots by 2016.’

Writing in the Viral Voting report, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady said:

“It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that that as many people as possible participate.  But the government has saddled unions with twentieth century postal balloting methods that make it harder for working people to do just that.

Online voting is the way to bring balloting bang up to date and help ensure some equality in the workplace.”

Announcing the task force, Mr Cable said:

“We currently enjoy some of the best industrial relations in a generation, with overall strike days at an all-time low.

Unions have been central to our economic recovery by keeping employees flexible, so we could keep Britain working.

The Conservatives have an ideological aversion to trade unions and have repeatedly tried – and failed – during this Parliament to curtail their mandate, such as trying to impose an arbitrary minimum threshold for vote turnouts.

I favour more sensible reform by enabling unions to ballot their members using modern electronic voting.”

Under current laws, all union votes require a postal ballot.  If implemented, it is likely to boost the case for online voting in political elections.

Whilst the Liberal Democrats are yet to take a clear position on online voting, Deputy Leader of the Commons and Liberal Democrat, Tom Brake MP recently stated that he would be ‘very happy’ to see online voting trialled in the UK.

Do you think the UK should introduce an online voting option for elections?  Take a moment to sign and share our e-petition.

Download the Viral Voting report here.

Lib Dem Minister ‘would be very happy’ to see online voting piloted

Liberal Democrat Minister, Tom Brake MP has this week said that he would be ‘very happy’ to see online voting trials take place in the UK. Brake, the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, was responding to the findings of the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy which recommended in January that online voting should be in place for the 2020 General Election.

The findings were debated on Tuesday in a Westminster Hall debate called by Labour MP, Meg Hillier, who sits on the Speaker’s Commission.

The comments come in the same week a BBC/ComRes poll found that online voting was the most popular option amongst young people to increase their likelihood of voting.  63% of the more than 6,000 18 to 24 year old respondents said that online voting would make them more likely to vote.

Last week, WebRoots Democracy’s Viral Voting report was released which found that, in addition to providing numerous benefits to the electoral process, online voting could boost youth voter turnout in a General Election by 1.8 million to 70%.

Speaking in the Digital Democracy debate, Mr Brake highlighted the security concerns with online voting and read out results from his own survey of social media followers which had 64% in favour of the reform.  However, he said that support for online voting is ‘not universal’ and would have to be introduced as an option alongside the current methods of voting.

On his own views, the Liberal Democrat Minister said:

“What I would say as a Liberal Democrat as opposed to a Government Minister, I would be very happy for trials to take place in the future. I think, now that we have got Individual Electoral Registration in place, I think that was one of the things that was needed to ensure that we have the building blocks for these trials to take place. So, I hope that is something that will be considered in the future.”

Brake is the first senior Liberal Democrat to voice support for online voting trials, however, in 2011 after outlining plans for a referendum on the use of the Alternative Vote System, Leader Nick Clegg said that ‘it’s important to avoid asking people to keep traipsing to the ballot box.’

Click on the image to watch the clip.

Click on the image to watch the clip.

The Labour Party are currently the only major UK political party to commit to piloting online voting in the next Parliament with Constitutional Reform Lead, Sadiq Khan MP writing that ‘the way we run our democracy is stuck in a time warp.’

The Viral Voting report makes 10 recommendations on online voting including piloting it in 8 Mayoral elections, introducing online voting in Trade Union strike ballots, and for there to be cross-party agreement on implementing online voting.

Download the Viral Voting report here.

Do you think the UK should introduce an online voting option for elections?  Take a moment to sign and share our e-petition.

Which Scottish #indyref campaign is leading on social media?

wetter togetherWith just over two weeks to go until Scotland decides it’s future in the Independence Referendum, WebRoots Democracy has analysed the social media followings of the two official campaigns who have been hitting social media hard with videos, statuses, twibbons and even ice-bucket challenges: Yes Scotland and Better Together.

This analysis is on the basis of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ followers.

On Twitter and Facebook, the Yes Scotland campaign is the clear winner with 67% of the share on Twitter (67,766 followers), and 58% on Facebook (240,095 likes).  On Google+, Yes Scotland are edging it with 51.1% of the share (34,534 followers).

The Better Together campaign has 33,140 Twitter followers, 174,366 Facebook likes, and 33,031 Google+ followers.

There is no data currently available for the number of YouTube subscribers to Yes Scotland’s channel, however in the number of views, Better Together is leading with 1,036,668 views compared to the Yes campaign’s 600,333.  However, this may be in part due to Better Together’s ‘The woman who made up her mind‘ video which came under heavy criticism on social media.

Not including YouTube, the Yes Scotland campaign is winning on social media with 58.7% compared to Better Together’s 41.3%.

Away from the Scottish Independence debate, in terms of political parties’ social media presence, far-right party Britain First is still leading on Facebook and Twitter with a combined following of 413,418, followed by the Conservatives (376,951); Labour (334,103); UKIP (303,932); Liberal Democrats (171,332); BNP (170,746); and the Green Party (144,458).

Far-right party, Britain First, now has the largest social media presence

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, WebRoots Democracy will be analysing the social media followings of the main political parties and publishing monthly ‘Election by Social Media’ results.

This analysis is on the basis of Facebook and Twitter followers and generates a percentage share of followers, where in this case followers equals votes.

Below are the results for June 29th, 2014:

Election by Social Media june

Britain First is a far-right, nationalist party formed by ex-members of the British National Party in 2011.  It has no elected representatives in Local Councils, the European Parliament, or the UK Parliament, but the popularity of its Facebook page has surged since the 2014 D-Day.

In this analysis, Britain First are ahead of the Conservatives by 8.9 percentage points on social media as a result of a stronger Facebook following (497,554 likes).

Labour have the best Twitter presence, however, with 142,629 followers; over 28,000 followers ahead of the Conservative Party.

UKIP are also performing strongly on Facebook (226,091 likes) making up for a poor Twitter following (62,663).

The Liberal Democrats take 5th place, thanks to a stronger Facebook presence.  On Twitter, they are almost neck-and-neck with the Green Party.

Similar to UKIP, Britain First have a weak Twitter presence with just 3,655 followers.

See last month’s analysis here.

Election by Social Media

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, WebRoots Democracy will be analysing the social media followings of the main political parties and publishing monthly ‘Election by Social Media’ results.

This analysis is on the basis of Facebook and Twitter followers and generates a percentage share of followers, where in this case followers equals votes.

Below are the results for May 31st, 2014:

Election by Social Media - May 31

In this analysis, the Conservatives are just edging Labour by 0.2% on social media as a result of a stronger Facebook following (203,175 likes).

Labour have the best Twitter presence, however, with 139,546 followers; over 27,000 followers ahead of the Conservative Party.

UKIP are also performing strongly on Facebook (194,058 likes) making up for a poor Twitter following (61,716).

The Liberal Democrats take 4th place, thanks to a stronger Facebook presence.  On Twitter, they are almost neck-and-neck with the Green Party.