UK Democracy Bulletin, 14th January 2022

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 280+ 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

  • Policing Bill pressure intensifies, key Lords vote next week
  • New Year reflections mySociety, Democracy, Connection Coalition and more
  • JRRT recruiting new Head of UK Democracy Fund
  • PACAC ravages the Elections Bill
  • Votes for Schools Student Voices Awards open, ‘Welcome to your vote’ week starts 24th January

Policing Bill

Activity around the Policing Bill intensifies ahead of the Lords Report Stage debate

With civil society seemingly awakening to the threat of the Policing Bill since the recent last-minute amendments, there is now a strong pushback across campaign groups against Parts 3 (protest provisions) and Part 4 (criminalising nomadic communities). An 800,000 strong cross-platform petition is due to be handed in to the Home Office on Monday 17th ahead of the Report Stage debate.

Climate groups are urging the Labour Party to oppose the Bill

Groups including Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, UK School Strike and Green New Deal Rising are calling for Labour to step up and oppose the Policing Bill and whip his MPs and peers to vote against the legislation, which they say is a “devastating attack on our democratic right to be heard”.

Do you have strong Lords links? Ask that they attend the Lords vote on 17th January

If your organisation has strong links with peers, Kathleen Christie and the Police Bill Alliance suggest encouraging them to turn up to vote at Part 3 Report Stage on 17th January. A range of issue-specific letters are going to peers this week from alliance members and influential supporters, including Unlock Democracy, UK21, Friends of the Earth and The Quakers.

Business Declares organise open letter to the House of Lords about the Policing Bill

The letter, warning against the criminalisation of protest and urging the Lords to act, has gained the attention of a range of significant operating in the UK including Innocent Drinks, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, The Body Shop and others.

Update on the timing and passage of the Policing Bill

According to the Police Bill Alliance, following the Lords Report Stage debate on the 17th, ‘ping pong’ will likely occur either the week of Feb 7th or Feb 21st, with the bill being enacted soon after.

Josh Russell launches new platform to lobby the media to cover key bills

Hey News offers a quick and easy way for people concerned with the Elections and Policing Bills to reach out to media outlets and demand they report on these two key political developments.

Democracy Sector

mySociety kick off the new year with a reflection on the old
Their annual review is both comprehensive and heartfelt, covering everything from their new partnership with Climate Emergency UK to their new strategic shift. mySociety are also on the lookout for a researcher to help them understand more about the intersection of Net Zero and local government, if this sounds like you, the call for proposals closes on the 21st January.

Democracy Club take stock of their work with a strategy for 2022

The last time Democracy Club thought about a five year plan, events got in the way. In their new strategy update for 2022 they discuss their desire to address the barriers around engaging with local government, to double down on their role as a foundational information layer, work with third parties to distribute their information better, and most importantly — ensuring that their core work and services continue and are well maintained. If you haven’t already, make sure to join Democracy Club Slack — the home for all things elections.

JRRT recruiting new Head of UK Democracy Fund

The new role holder will work alongside the previous Head of Fund in a job share. Find out more and apply on JRRT’s website.

Switching parties, not Get Out The Vote, is key driver of electoral change, says new study

There is strikingly little research on the drivers of electoral change. Jon Mellon, Associate Professor at the University of Manchester, has brought together 104 inter-election panel surveys across 18 countries to determine the impact of turnout switching (GOTV), population replacement (generational change) or party switching. Across the datasets, Jon found that party switching was the most important factor in 97% of elections represented. Previous research emphasising turnout, he says, is focused on the atypical case of recent US elections, which doesn’t generalise to most electoral contexts.

Democracy Network considering democracy festivals and Northern Ireland networking

Jessie Joe Jacobs, Democracy Network Coordinator of Involve’s new Democracy Network, is currently continuing their long-running consultation and chat with the sector, considering plans for a Northern Ireland network and a potential democracy festival. Jessie is also in the process of setting up a council of reference for the network as a sounding board for the project. If you haven’t already, reach out to Jessie and say hello!

Have you heard of Aldermanic elections? Probably not.

Aldermanic elections in the City of London are a rare thing, and to quote Peter Keeling at Democracy Club “it’s all a bit silly”. The Alderman need only stand down once they’ve served their six year term, or turn 70 years old. As a result elections are on a rolling basis that’s staggered over the years. There are nine Aldermanic elections that are due to be held this coming year, but the Alderman haven’t decided when they will be. According to the City of London, it’s never the case that all 25 Alderman will be up for election at once.

Public Interest News Foundation researching community groups across London & Birmingham

Joe Mitchell, Programme Manager at PINF, and the team, are trying to discern a baseline of democratic engagement in five wards across the two cities. If you know of any active community groups in Birmingham, Newham, Southwark or Barnet please do get in touch with Joe.

The Centre for Democracy are hiring a new Research Assistant to assist in composing this very Bulletin

If you know anyone that might fit the bill, please do send them our way. Applications close today (Friday 14th) at 11.59pm.

New Democracy Classroom monthly meetups start next week

These meetings will be an opportunity for partners to come together, share their work and discuss opportunities for collaboration in the upcoming Local Elections 2022. You can register for their first two meetups on Eventbrite and find out more about Democracy Classroom on their website.

Labour’s affiliated unions join the campaign to stop the Elections Bill

As pressure builds on the government, Labour’s trade unions start a new campaign and petition against the Elections Bill.

Ballot Box Scotland will be publishing local sit reps on each local council across Scotland

These situation reports will be written by local people, one per local council across Scotland. The reports will be an opportunity for young writers to have their work published on wide and fairly prominent platform. Contributors will be paid £40 for a 500–600 word assessment on their area. Find out more via Ballot Box Scotland. They’re also fundraising for this work and more, see their GoFundMe for more info.

Connection Coalition reflects on two years of the pandemic

Zoe Cumberland, Manager of the Connection Coalition, runs through the challenges, opportunities and reflections on their work in 2021 with a view to outstanding questions for 2022. The Connection Coalition was founded by the Jox Cox Foundation in April 2020 at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Realising the UK was facing an immediate crisis of connection, the Foundation worked to provide a space for communities and organisations focused on building connection across the country to connect and learn from each other.

Votes for Schools Student Voices Awards, ‘Welcome to your vote week’
Working with the Electoral Commission, Votes for Schools are developing a new resource for ‘Welcome to your vote week’, which starts on the 24th January. This year’s Student Voices Awards are now open, reports Lizzy Lewis, Head of Impact at Votes for Schools. The awards celebrate students who exhibit good democratic values and practice, such as confidently presenting informed judgements, listening to others and taking account of their views, or engaging in democratic action, supporting others to have a voice.

The Hansard Society Audit of Political Engagement

Joe Mitchell notes the last time the Audit of Political Engagement was published by the Hansard Society was back in 2019. The Audit is one of the very few and key bits of longitudinal data we have on political engagement. Will we see a return of the Audit for 2022?

Find out what politicians are talking about with Govtracker

Govtracker uses a natural language processing algorithm to track what UK politicians are talking about and their themes of conversation.

Small Charities Coalition to close

Unable to continue funding the charity, the trustees of the SCC have taken the decision to wind up operations this spring. The SCC has been a key source of support for charities across the UK for more than 13 years, to help find the information and support they need to start up and get on with their important work. The Charities Commission has produced this research on the impact of COVID-19 on charities across the UK.

Democratic Reform

UK Government publishes Voter ID policy

The latest policy paper confirms the government’s position on the new ID cards, though notably whilst 60+ railcards and other ID are now acknowledged as acceptable forms of ID, young people’s railcards, student IDs and other common forms of identification for young people are not included.

PACAC call for the Government to stop the passage of the Elections Bill

In a new wide-ranging report published before the Christmas break, members of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee say the reforms ‘lack evidence base, consultation, and transparency’.

It’s official: Sortition Foundation are the fairest at selecting participants for a Citizens’ Assembly

They run a pretty heavy-duty piece of code to sort through and select participants for citizens’ assemblies. This year, Nick Gill and the team are really keen to share all that they’ve learned and promote best practice around recruitment to CAs.

The next stage for climate assemblies — designing for impact

Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the University of Westminster’s Centre for the Study of Democracy, reviews the extent to which national level climate assemblies have had an impact. Graham notes that not enough attention has been placed on coupling the citizens’ assembly format with the relevant policy systems of the relevant state. The blog considers the effectiveness of these assemblies so far in responding to the systematic challenges of climate breakdown, in that climate assemblies usually provide policy recommendations, as designed — rather than engaging in systems change thinking. Well worth a read!

An academic specialising in deliberative democracy was invited to a citizens’ assembly — here’s what happened next

John Boswel, Associate Professor in Politics at the University of Southampton, was surprised to be selected for the Kingston-Upon-Thames Citizens’ Assembly, having spent so much time writing and reading about democratic innovation and deliberative democracy. John’s reflections on the process are a must-read for any practitioners of deliberative democracy.

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

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.

Thanks to everyone who joined us this week for Democracy Check-Ins. This week we were joined by Myf Nixon of mySociety, Natasha Fox of the Electoral Reform Society, Josh Russell of Forward Democracy, Joe Mitchell of Public Interest News Foundation, Lizzy Lewis of Votes for Schools, Jon Morter of the Progressive Alliance, Peter Keeling of Democracy Club, Nick Gill of the Sortition Foundation, Kathleen Christie of the Police Bill Alliance, Perry Walker of TalkShop, Jessie Joe Jacobs of the UK Democracy Network and David Stoker.

See you next time, add to your calendar

James, Molly, and The Centre for Democracy team

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