Jenny Watson

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Jennifer Watson CBE (born 25 January 1964), [1] better known as Jenny Watson, is the former chairperson of the United Kingdom Electoral Commission. A long term campaigner for women's rights, she had a 20+ year career in the not for profit sector. She started out at Liberty, [2] and then political campaigners Charter88, before moving to Victim Support. She is a former Chair of the Fawcett Society, a not-for-profit organisation campaigning for equality between women and men. [2]

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Electoral Commission (United Kingdom) an independent body set up by the UK Parliament

The Electoral Commission is the election commission of the United Kingdom. It is an independent body, and was set up in 2001 by the British Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for how elections should be run.


Watson was the last chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission before the creation of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, [2] having been first appointed as a commissioner in 1999, and deputy chair from 2000. She was deputy chairman of the Banking Code Standards Board, and of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. [2]

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) was an independent non-departmental public body, (NDPB) in the United Kingdom, which tackled sex discrimination and promoted gender equality. Its last chair was Jenny Watson.

The Banking Code was a voluntary code of practice agreed by banks in certain countries. The code typically described how a banks dealt with accepting deposits and withdrawals and with customer disputes on transactions. Banking codes have in most countries been replaced by government imposed financial regulation governing banking practices.

Watson is a director of Global Partners and Associates. She is a member of the Advertising Standards Authority's advertising advisory committee, and sits on the Council of the Women's Library at London Metropolitan University. She currently sits on the board of the Audit Commission, but her tenure will not be renewed. [3] She is a trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation, [4] a non-executive director of the Waste & Resources Action Programme, and a trustee of the Money Advice Trust. [4]

Advertising Standards Authority (United Kingdom)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in the United Kingdom. The ASA is a non-statutory organisation and so cannot interpret or enforce legislation. However, its code of advertising practice broadly reflects legislation in many instances. The ASA is not funded by the British government, but by a levy on the advertising industry.

London Metropolitan University

London Metropolitan University, commonly known as London Met, is a public research university in London, England. The University of North London and London Guildhall University merged in 2002 to create the university. With roots going back to 1848, it is one of London's oldest educational institutions.

Charities Aid Foundation

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is a registered UK charity. CAF provides services and assistance to UK and international charities and their donors, and promotes general donation to charities. Its head office is located in the Kings Hill business park, West Malling, Kent with a second office in London on St Bride Street, EC4A 4AD.

Watson was appointed the second chair of the Electoral Commission in January 2009. [2] She is paid £100,000 for a role which requires her to work three days a week. [5] Watson remained chair of the electoral commission amidst criticism of her management of the 2010 United Kingdom general election, when she defended herself on the grounds that the Electoral Commission had few powers over returning officers. Since then, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 has increased the Commission's authority with regard to referendums. She formally announced the results of the Welsh devolution referendum "in both English and Welsh with perfect pronunciation". Just two months later, she acted as Chief Counting Officer (CCO) in the 2011 AV Referendum and also acted in the same capacity in the 2016 EU Referendum. In doing so, she became the first person to oversee two UK-wide referendums as Chief Counting Officer. [6]

2010 United Kingdom general election election of members to the House of Commons in 2010

The 2010 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 6 May 2010, with 45,597,461 registered voters entitled to vote to elect members to the House of Commons. The election took place in 650 constituencies across the United Kingdom under the first-past-the-post system. None of the parties achieved the 326 seats needed for an overall majority. The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, won the largest number of votes and seats, but still fell 20 seats short. This resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was only the second general election since the Second World War to return a hung parliament, the first being the February 1974 election. Unlike in 1974, the potential for a hung parliament had this time been widely considered and predicted, and both the country and politicians were better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result. The coalition government that was subsequently formed was the first coalition in British history to eventuate directly from an election outcome. The hung parliament came about in spite of the Conservatives managing both a higher vote total and higher share of the vote than the previous Labour government had done in 2005, when it secured a comfortable majority.

In various parliamentary systems, a returning officer is responsible for overseeing elections in one or more constituencies.

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011(c. 1) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made provision for the holding of a referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote system in all future general elections to the UK Parliament and also made provision on the number and size of Parliamentary Constituencies. The Bill for the Act was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 July 2010 and passed third reading on 2 November by 321 votes to 264. The House of Lords passed the Bill, with amendments, on 14 February 2011, and after some compromises between the two Houses on amendments, it received Royal Assent on 16 February.

Watson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to electoral democracy. [7]

The 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours are appointments by some of the 16 Commonwealth realms of Queen Elizabeth II to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries. The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the Queen's Official Birthday celebrations during the month of June. The Queen's Birthday Honours for the United Kingdom were announced on 16 June; the honours for New Zealand were announced on 5 June and for Australia on 12 June.


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  1. "Weekend birthdays". The Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media: 51. 25 January 2014.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "The Commissioners". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  3. Chapman, James (8 September 2010). "Eric Pickles fires the left-wing quango queen blamed for election night shambles". Daily Mail. London.
  4. 1 2 "Jenny Watson". CAF. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  5. Gallagher, Ian (9 May 2010). "How £100k 'Modern Militant' presided over voting shambles". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  6. Curtis, Polly (5 May 2011). "All eyes on electoral commission chief as AV referendum results loom". The Guardian . United Kingdom . Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  7. "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B10.
  8. "Human Rights & Social Justice Research Unit". London Metropolitan University. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
Government offices
Preceded by
Julie Mellor
Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
Sam Younger
Chair of the Electoral Commission