Electoral Reform, Democracy and the World
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 23rd November, 2009
This evening, Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS) hosted what they hope will be the first of many annual receptions, in the Brunei Gallery at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). As I was lecturing at SOAS immediately before, the event could not have been more convenient. But far more important that that serendipity was the quality of the people present, including a clutch of Commonwealth High Commissioners, my old BBC World Service colleagues Elizabeth Smith and Mike Wooldridge, Electoral Reform types such as Ken Ritchie, Eric Siddique, Michael Steed et al, and of course our host for the evening. former Tory MP Keith Best, who still holds the flame aloft for fair voting (and humane immigration policies) within the Conservative Party. It was also good to see various people from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD, for whom I have done assignments in various parts of the world, including Ethiopia, where the British Ambassador at the time was Myles Wickstead, now one of the big cheeses in WFD and of course present this evening. I was heavily lobbied by a group of Iraqis who attended and who were urging that the West (including Britain) do more to foster genuine democracy and an end to corruption in that benighted land, which Tony Blair and Co ‘liberated’ only to create a political vacuum. We learn by our mistakes, I suppose — though personally I have long argued that the one thing we learn from history is that leaders learn nothing from history. Anyway, ERIS is doing great work and if it had some more financial backing, could be doing so much more!