Democracy Bulletin, 7th July

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Fortnightly news, jobs, grants and gossip from the democracy sector, brought to you by James Moulding and Molly Hudson of The Centre for Democracy. Read by 270+ democracy organisations. We read everyone’s newsletters & research so you don’t have to. If you want us to cover yours, let us know: hello@centrefordemocracy.org.uk

Highlights

  • Online Safety Bill everything you need to know

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Online Safety Bill (OSB)

What you need to know about the draft Online Safety Bill

  • The draft bill is about to enter a 12 week pre-legislative scrutiny (PLS) period, likely concluded in the autumn.

Digital Action request orgs sign Online Safety Bill public joint statement by COB Thurs 8th July
Ruth Dunlop Price and the Digital Action team have worked up a public joint statement. The letter welcomes progress on the Bill, highlights the areas of concern or where clarification is needed, and gives parliamentarians key questions to ask during pre-legislative scrutiny. If you would like to add your organisational name to the statement, contact Ruth ASAP.

LSE host in-depth briefing on the Online Safety Bill this Thursday 8th July
The briefing will provide an overview of the draft OSB, featuring contributions from Full Fact, Ofcom, DCMS, CCDH, parliamentarians and academics. Register here.

For more in depth analysis on the Online Safety Bill
See Carnegie, Demos, Glitch/Anti Semitism Policy Trust, Hope Not Hate, Hacked Off, Impress (regulator), Osborne Clark (legal) and a new HoC briefing note including chronological overview of the bill’s evolution.

Links to comment include: Graham Smith on OSB implications for journalism, David Davis on OSB as the “censors charter”.

Democracy Sector

Applications open for new Democracy Network Coordinator role
Involve are looking for a coordinator for their new democracy network — the role spans three years and will lead on efforts to co-create and develop the network. View the new job posting.

Shared Future looking for new Project Officer to work on Citizen’s Juries and Assemblies
Jez Hall and the team at Shared Future CIC are looking for someone keen to bring communities together with a passion for citizen participation to help them deliver a series of deliberative sessions across the North West of England.

Centre for Policy Studies publish landmark survey of British values
Dr Frank Luntz has spent the summer working with CPS on a landmark survey of the British public’s language and values. Headline findings include: Britain is not as divided as the USA, voters are just as fed up with business as with politicians, Tory and Labour supporters are united by their values — but divided by their policies.

50% OFF this Saturday’s Big Tent Ideas Festival
Big Tent Ideas is back with their first in-person festival this Saturday 10th July in Coventry. Thanks to Trin and the team, you can enjoy the festival with this 50% off discount code: BIGTENT21

Constitution Unit’s Monitor: constitutional uncertainty on multiple fronts
Published three times a year, the UCL Constitution Unit’s Monitor is the democracy sector’s academic ‘newspaper of record’, unpacking the last four months of democratic and constitutional updates. The current issue prioritises the current climate of constitutional uncertainty, echoed in their recent conference on constitutional reform last month.

SMK announce new dates for their Open Training Programme
The fully online training programme covers a range of topics, from influencing parliament to self-care and campaign evaluation. Signup for the new courses on their website.

PSA EPOP deadline extended to this Wednesday 7th July!
The Political Studies Association’s Elections, Public Opinions & Parties (EPOP) conference have extended the deadline of their Call for Papers. This year’s face-to-face covid secure conference will be held on 3–4 September. If you’re a democracy researcher, don’t miss out on EPOP’s range of funding opportunities and awards.

NCCPE announce dates for Engage Conference
The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s Engage Conference is due to be held online on the 1st and 2nd December. The conference will be a mix of plenaries, networking opportunities, and opportunities to get involved with the Engage Unconference.

Political Studies Association announce their annual conference, Call for Papers open
The theme for this year’s November conference is Parliament at a Critical Juncture, focusing on the pressures placed upon parliaments during this period of compounding crises. Call for Papers are now open.

Questions of Accountability Conference, Call for Papers open
The University of Worcester and the University of Sheffield are organising a conference/exhibition entitled Questions of Accountability between 1–5 November 2021, full details of which can be found here.

New House of Commons Library briefings
Richard Kelly, Sarah Priddy and the team have published briefings covering the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill, MPs who’ve withdrawn or been suspended from the Commons Chamber, and apologies by MPs to the House.

Democratic Reform

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passes third reading
The controversial bill was voted through on Monday evening with 365 MPs backing the bill and 265 opposing. The Joint Committee on Human Rights recently condemned the legislation as a breach of human rights law. In March, democracy orgs united to denounce the new laws, with particular focus on the new powers to impose conditions on protest and the implications of new trespass laws on GRT communities.

Make Votes Matter plan cross-party Day of Action for Equal Votes for July 31st
The Make Noise for PR Day of Action aims to bring national focus around PR. MVM are planning awareness raising activities including banner drops and street stalls. Get in touch with the MVM team to find out more here.

AEA say voter ID cards should be delivered by local authority, not election staff
Peter Stanyon, Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, warned that whilst it is clear photographic voter ID will be necessary as a result of the new legislation, responsibility for producing voter ID cards should rest with the local authority, not over-stretched Returning or Electoral Registration Officers. Mr Stanyon also remarked that the cards should be nationally funded, with no additional cost burden pushed onto councils.

Urgent action required on size of the Upper House, says Lord Speaker’s Committee
We mentioned this in our last issue, though here, the Chair of the Committee, Lord Terry Burns, writes for the Constitution Unit blog, arguing that it is essential party leaders now “put aside short-term interests and agree plans to reduce its numbers”.

North Ayrshire’s experiments with youth-led participatory budgeting
Demsoc covered the work here, in conversation with Donna Anderson, Participation and Democracy Officer and Youth Work Lead for North Ayrshire Council. They’ve evolved their practices from participants physical ‘spending’ of tokens in a market stall environment, to moving into a fully online environment, which has brought increased engagement.

RebootGB to launch new podcast on their work building for a Progressive Alliance
Liz Crosbie and the team at RebootGB will be podcasting for the first time. They’re also on the lookout for someone to help develop and improve their website.

Chatham House on strengthening youth participation in public affairs
Martina Carlucci, Anar Bata and Jacqueline Rowe at Chatham House note that whilst young people have been at the forefront of civic movements in recent years, they are consistently underrepresented in discussions around human rights and how to monitor their protection and defence.

Integrity & Transparency

UK Government spends COVID-19 emergency funds on Union polling
Following a court order, the Cabinet Office released spending documents showing officials had been instructed to use emergency covid contract funds to commission political research on “attitudes to the UK Union”. SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has called for a public inquiry into the matter.

All party inquiry finds police breached fundamental rights during Clapham and Bristol Kill the Bill protests
The APPG on Democracy and the Constitution, supported by independent counsel and the Institute for Constitutional and Democratic Research (ICDR), condemned the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force used by officers at the Sarah Everard vigil and the Bristol Kill the Bill protests earlier this year. The report contradicts the findings of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMIC), which argued that the police had acted proportionately in their use of force. HMIC’s claim to impartiality was recently questioned by whistleblower and civil servant Alicia O’Keefe earlier this year. The inquiry was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

mySociety release new tool to help challenge FOI refusals
The new automated notice on FOI refusals via WhatDoTheyKnow helps users identify potential exemptions which may have been applied to their request. The tool presents a series of questions which help establish whether or not you can take further action and what that action might be.

Institute for Government asks: Is it time to overhaul rules on adviser appointments?
Following the Matt Hancock affair, the problems of how publicly funded government advisors are appointed — and the access they get — is not a matter the government can consider closed, argues Catherine Haddon, IfG’s resident historian.

Writing for the Constitution Society, the Institute for Government’s Tim Durrant highlights the IfG’s recent report, Updating the Ministerial Code, setting out the steps the prime minister can take to strengthen both the ministerial code — the rules that govern ministers’ behaviour during and after their time in office — and how it is enforced.

Three new reports from Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Doing anti-corruption democratically by Heather Marquette; Rethinking strategies for an effective parliamentary role in combatting corruption by Phil Mason; and Post-legislative scrutiny of climate and environment legislation: Guide for parliamentary practice by David Hirst.

Elections

Death threats, abuse and arson against candidates and campaigners in Batley and Spen and elsewhere
Labour activists were ‘kicked and egged’ in Batley and Spen. In Lanarkshire, a Conservative councillor suffered a devastating arson attack and Minister Chloe Smith reports having received death threats.

Whilst public confidence in elections is at record highs, the opposite holds for fairness
Jonathan Rose, writing for the Constitution Society, interrogates national election studies dating back to 1997, finding that public perceptions of whether or not elections are being conducted fairly are at an all time low. Last month the Electoral Commission found public confidence in the running of elections at record highs.

PM facing legal action over appointment of Tory Party former co-treasurer to the Lords
The independent watchdog, the House of Lords’ Appointment’s Commission was over-ruled by Johnson to award the seat to the now-Baron Cruddas, reportedly the first time the watchdog’s advice has been actively over-ruled. Lawyers on behalf of the Good Law Project argue the timing of donations by Baron Cruddas to the Conservatives represent ‘bias’ in the process. The Electoral Commission recorded a £500,000 donation to the party three days after taking his seat last February.

House of Commons Library briefings on extent of franchise, electoral intimidation and women members
The new research briefings from Neil Johnston and Richard Kelly outline voting rights for different types of elections in the UK and the expected new offence of intimidation of candidate and voters, as well as an update of the electoral offence of undue influence and a new review and listing of all the women who’ve ever been elected to the Commons.

Devolved Democracy & Local Government

Jackie Weaver’s campaign to hold abusive councillors to account
Compassion in Politics Ambassador and Zoom sensation Jackie Weaver has launched a campaign to ensure that abusive councillors can be removed from their posts. As it stands, there is no national provision to ensure that a local councillor who acts abusively towards colleagues or constituents can actually be forced to step-down.

LGIU release their primer series for new local councillors
The primers are designed to help new councillors get on top of the complexities of some of the difference services that LAs provide. New primers will be released in the coming weeks and months. The primers are exclusively for LGIU members. Are you a councillor and not sure if your council is an LGIU member? Check here.

LGIU launch the Future of Local Government Review
The first step is this survey to gauge what’s important to those working across local government.

Participatory democracy and local government
Originally published as part of the Improvement Service Thought Leadership series, Lynn Sharp unpacks a range of perspectives on the effective use of participatory democracy in local government.

Democracy & Media

Index of Independent News Publishing Report launches Thursday July 8th
The report marks the UK’s first ever comprehensive survey of the independent news sector. Join them for their launch event with PINF Executive Director Jonathan Heawood, Shirish Kulkarni of TBIJ, Emma Meese of the Independent Community News Network and Dame Frances Cairncross, author of the Cairncross Review: a sustainable future for journalism.

Common Weal’s Source Direct ceases publication
For nearly six months we’ve enjoyed reading Source Direct’s updates on Scottish politics, James Foley’s daily blog helped provide the bulk of our Scottish updates for this bulletin. In other news, Common Weal’s podcast last week hosted a discussion with Kevin Anderson from the Evidence Group of the Scottish Climate Assembly, they unpacked the deliberation process and evidence-hearing processes of the Assembly.

Education

Shout Out UK, Political Literacy Oversight Group developing political literacy amendment to HE Bill 2020
Titus Alexander, SOUK and PLOG are working to insert the following clause to the HE Bill:

[promote the importance of — ]

2. democratic values, civil liberties and political literacy

Reach out to Titus to find out more and get involved. You can find the link for the amendment here.

And Finally…

The winner of #GrantmakingMemes is…@AanestadKari — but more importantly, Gemma Bull & Tom Steinberg’s groundbreaking new book Modern Grantmaking is now out. You can grab your copy here.

Highlights from the 2021 Copenhagen Democracy Summit in just 4 minutes.

Mihail Chiru and Lieven De Winter have published an article, The Allocation of Committee Chairs and the Oversight of Coalition Cabinets in Belgium, in Government & Opposition.

The Journal of Legislative Studies and Legislative Studies Quarterly release new issues.

Featured Upcoming Events

The Centre for Democracy maintains a full database of events from across the democracy sector.

View the database here — Have we missed something? Add it here!

Active Job Listings across the Democracy Sector

View the full database of upcoming job listings here — have we missed any? Add them via this form.

Apply ASAP

Jobs with upcoming deadlines

Unsalaried job listings

Other paid opportunities

  • Elect Her are hiring a freelancer to develop their library of downloadable resources. If you’re interested get in touch with Hannah Stevens.

We’ve been experimenting with the format of this email and the accompanying meetup, if you have any feedback we’d be glad to hear it.

If you can’t make our weekly meetup, you can always drop in to the meetup document of the current fortnight and add to it by going to democracymeetup.org.uk.

See you next time,

James, Molly, and The Centre for Democracy team

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