Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg

The rejection of AV is the fifth occasion in the last 100 years that a proposal to replace FPTP has failed. This history of failure to secure electoral reform hinges on the ever-changing political calculus between Labour and the Liberal Democrats

Throughout the AV referendum campaign, there was general agreement that it was a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity for electoral reform in Britain. But, does greater impetus for electoral reform happen only once in a generation? Stuart Wilks-Heeg, of Democratic Audit, investigates the history of proposals to replace our current First Past the Post system, and finds that the shifting balance of power between parties on the left created possibilities for […]

Despite the dysfunctionality of First Past the Post, there is no clear evidence of a public desire for Proportional Representation

The apparent disproportionality of our current First Past the Post system is at the heart of the current debate on electoral reform, with many seeing Proportional Representation as being the best solution. But how has public opinion responded over the years? Stuart Wilks-Heeg and Stephen Crone of Democratic Audit have examined opinion polls since the 1970s and have found that […]

The coalition’s resurrection of Labour’s stalled constitutional reform agenda will do little to address widening social, economic, and political inequalities

Since the election last May, the coalition government has pursued a wide-ranging programme of constitutional reforms, many of which were promised by the previous Labour government. Stuart Wilks-Heeg of Democratic Audit discusses new findings that democratic inequalities have widened across the board since the 1990s and argues that the current government shows no signs of addressing them. Is democracy in […]

Just 50 ‘donor groups’ have supplied over half of the Conservative party’s declared donation income in the last decade, a fact disguised by legal ‘fame avoidance’ techniques

Although the Election Commission has published data before on who gives what to political parties, by splitting up donations across multiple family members or between personal and company donations it has been legally possible for huge donors to largely avoid publicity. Not any more though, because Stephen Crone and Stuart Wilks-Heeg have analysed all donation income received by the Conservative […]

Just 224 large donations from fewer than 60 sources accounted for two fifths of the donation income of the top three parties across a decade of British politics. This is far too narrow a base for the health of UK democracy.

Why has reform of party funding in the UK been so troublesome for the body politic and steps to clean up the process so inadequate and hesitant? Using an in-depth analysis of party finances Stuart Wilks-Heeg exposes the myth that many small donors keep the major parties afloat. Instead he shows that the top three parties rely on attracting […]

Party funding reforms are overdue in the UK, but they should not be rushed

At the 2010 election the Conservatives and Labour each spent five times more than the Liberal Democrats, and over 62 times the expenditure by the Greens. The scramble after donors by the top three parties is clearly now distorting British politics, and leading to constitutional tensions – revived last week by the prominence of major party donors […]

Reduce and equalise? Why electoral geography matters

The coalition’s programme of constitutional reform includes a commitment to review, and equalise the size of parliamentary constituencies by population. On the surface, the case for this reform makes good sense, but as Stuart Wilks-Heeg explains, these reforms will not address some deeper inequalities in our electoral system.

This article originally appeared at OurKingdom on 9 July, 2010.

Whether or […]

What about the voters?

Stuart Wilks-Heeg looks at the role of marginal seats in this election. The related paper ‘A tale of two electorates: why some voters are more equal than others’ is also available from Democratic Audit.

As the election campaign entered its last week, media reporting shifted to focus on the marginals – apparently in response to the three main […]