UK Democracy Bulletin

Thursday 9th September 2021

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

  • Elections Bill coalition delivers petitions to Downing Street, publish must-read briefing
  • Involve appoints Jessie Joe Jacobs as new Democracy Network Coordinator
  • Peoples Newsroom launches experimental community newsroom in Swansea
  • Powering Up Unlock Democracy and Compass launch new campaign
  • Democracy Jobs lots of exciting new roles up for grabs across the sector

Elections Bill

Elections Bill Coalition Delivers Petitions to Downing Street
On Tuesday 5th representatives from the Democracy Defence Coalition delivered a myriad of petitions and a civil society sign-on letter to Downing Street opposing the introduction of Voter ID. They were also able to meet with Angela Rayner to reinforce the importance of the issue. The coalition is now in full swing, with 61 organisations participating. They hold weekly “office hours” for any orgs interested in the bill and are running an array of joint campaigns across the range of issues raised by the bill. If you’d like to get on the weekly digest email list or attend the office hours please drop Matt Gallagher at Fair Vote UK an email at matt@fairvote.uk.

Elections Bill Coalition issues new must-read civil society briefing
The comprehensive joint document outlines the problems of the Elections Bill, the current groupings opposing the bill and the objectives and strategy of the coalition opposing the bill. The briefing also includes a parliamentary timetable for the bill and messaging guidance.

RebootGB identify loophole in Elections Bill potentially stalling a future snap election
An unintended consequence of the required 365-day registration period for the new £700 spend limit would mean ‘backdating’ the law to hold an election whilst that 365-day period ticks down, which may be subject to legal challenge, according to RebootGB’s PACAC inquiry submission.

Unlock Democracy launches Elections Bill Action Centre
The new portal provides key links to how supporters and citizens can take action to aid the campaign against the Elections Bill.

MP Research Matrix — if you have any intel or org connections to add, please do so
The Elections Bill coalition is compiling intelligence on MPs ties and notable votes to aid in the campaign. Add any information you have to the shared spreadsheet to help the work of the coalition..

New tool asks the media to cover the Elections Bill
Josh Russell, Co-founder of Forward Democracy, has launched a new site to ask news media orgs to report on the Elections Bill, check it out here: heynews.org/uk/electionsbill/

ERS Cymru coordinating Welsh civil society opposition to voter ID
Jess Blair and ERS Cymru are working to coordinate 18 Welsh civil society groups against voter ID.

Updated costings on voter ID
Voter ID is expected to cost as much as £180m per decade under the new plans, with £15m alone being spent on the plastic ID cards themselves for voters without ID.

Joint Committee on Human Rights release report on the Elections Bill
The new report provides a good analysis of the impact of voter ID on marginalised groups protected under human rights law.

Democracy Sector

Involve appoints Coordinator of new Democracy Network
Jessie Joe Jacobs is a social entrepreneur with 18 years experience of network development, campaign and project management, fundraising and campaigning for a diversity of organisations and causes. As Regional Director of the Stronger In campaign, Director of the Northern Inclusion Forum and Campaigns Officer at the TUC, Jessie brings a wealth of experience and passion to the role. Jessie will begin their new role at the end of the September and we look forward to more updates about the development of the new network. Welcome Jessie!

Mark the UN International Day of Democracy with Democracy Day Live
The team at Open Britain and Democracy Unleashed have brought together a fantastic panel to celebrate the International Day of Democracy on 15th September, including journalist Gavin Esler, Peter Jukes, Founder of Byline Times, Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General, Klina Jordan, Director of Make Votes Matter, Tom Brake, Director of Unlock Democracy. Sign up on Facebook here.

I Have A Voice launch publish first discussion paper
Rebecca Deegan, Director at I Have A Voice, is celebrating the launch of their first discussion paper and moving on to focus on next steps — including working out how to measure political literacy in a way that supports targeted intervention.

Centenary Action Group submits paper to the APPG on Disability’s inquiry into Access for Elected Office
Informed by the Elect Her and CAG’s bi-monthly roundtables for Deaf and Disabled women active in politics, the evidence paper concludes:

  • That there are numerous barriers that prevent Disabled people from becoming elected representatives and more barriers still that make participation difficult once elected.
  • An intersectional approach must be taken, that Disabled people are not a homogenous group and that a Disabled person may have multiple protected characteristics.
  • That efforts cannot be down to political parties alone, the Government must take the lead in measures to remove barriers for Disabled people.
  • Through ensuring Disabled women, and men, have a seat at the decision-making table, we will improve governance and change society for the better.

For more information on the inquiry, see here.

Elect Her are now preparing for their eighth cohort
Elect Her’s Peer Support Circles are structured as a 7-session journey, each composed of peers from across the political spectrum who want to create a safe space to support one another and encourage new voices and ambitions. The programme is free — Join the new cohort from 6th October and share the opportunity via your social media feeds.

Make Votes Matter launching new ‘Democracy Loves’ event series
The series kicks off on w/c 20th September with the first event focusing on the link between representation and climate justice. MVM are also launching their Activist Toolkit for conference season this Thursday and are preparing for their new film with acclaimed director Amir Amirani about the need for PR.

Democracy Club looking for partners for new project to build a UK-wide database of elected representatives
Approximately 400 organisations with 22,000 elected people make decisions every day about things that directly affect our lives. Whilst most of the work of local government is transparent, that doesn’t mean it’s accessible. Democracy Club want to partner with organisations who are trying to research, lobby or better understand the people who run local governments — if you are interested, get in touch to discuss.

The House of Commons has reverted back to in-person sessions
The House of Commons is abandoning virtual sessions and proxy voting as it returns to pre-pandemic ways. Whilst many MPs are celebrating the change, this will make for a difficult situation for those MPs that benefited from the more flexible arrangements which included those with health issues, childcare demands and problems with commuting distances.

mySociety looking for new Policy & Advocacy Manager and Front End Designer
mySociety are in a period of growth at the moment and have been hiring throughout the summer. Their latest open roles include for a new policy position and a Front End Designer. To keep up with the latest jobs releases from mySociety, subscribe to their jobs mailer here, or check the UK Democracy Jobs Board.

Compass hiring new Campaigns and Projects Office
There are some really good roles opening up in the democracy sector this fortnight, this one’s from Frances Foley and the team over at Compass with a key focus on building a Progressive Alliance and campaigning for a basic income. Apply and find out more here.

Speakers’ Corner Trust looking for new early career Trustee
Founded in 2007, the Speakers’ Corner Trust works to develop a more active citizenry, in the fullest sense of the word and true to their namesake. The new Trustee should be between 18–30 years. The post is a great opportunity for someone in their early career to leap into a new space, to flex their creativity and take on new projects, supported and mentored by the Trust board.

Democratic Reform

Compass and Unlock Democracy team up to launch new campaign Powering Up
Powering Up aims to secure public and political support for a programme of wide democratic reform ahead of the next general election. The work follows four phases, identifying a package of reforms commanding broad support, building a network of influencers, creating public awareness and securing commitments from political parties. The project is set to run for a year initially and is funded by Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

As conference season approaches, ERS doubles down on securing party support for PR
Josiah Mortimer and the team at the Electoral Reform Society are working busily with Labour for a New Democracy and other partners such as Make Votes Matter to boost the case for electoral reform as a record 250 Labour CLPs sign up to back PR.

Demos running trial of their ‘Combined Choice’ digital democratic method
Combined Choice represents decisions, not as a series of proposals, but as a whole, they argue. Instead of voting on each proposal in series, decisions are combined in one digital file, decision makers can then put forward an alternative version of the file with the file with the most support enforced. The trial is beginning now in an English town. Find out more about Demos’ Combined Choice method here.

Integrity & Transparency

The House of Commons Library has released new briefing papers on the Ministerial Code and Online Harms
Researchers Chris Rhodes and Hazel Armstrong publish a new briefing paper looking at the UK Ministerial Code and the role of the Independent Adviser. John Woodhouse and Maria Lalic have released new papers on Regulating Online Harms and a reading list of the public reactions to the draft Online Safety Bill.

Elections

Sharon Graham has been elected as Unite’s General Secretary
After an intense battle to replace the outgoing Len McLuskey, Sharon Graham has come out on top. Graham is the first woman to hold the position in the history of the union and has previously served as the union’s executive officer and as head of its organising and leverage department. Their election marks a return to industrial struggle to advance the union’s cause, over access to politicians and lobbying.

Green Party Executive (GPEx) results announced
Whilst we’re still waiting on the leadership election, the results of this year’s GPEx elections are in, with Green members selecting representatives for the six positions available. View the results here.

Devolved Democracy & Local Government

UK Government softens rigid rejection of Scottish referendum demands
Signalling a partial climbdown, the Scotland Secretary Alistair Jack MP states if Scotland is able to maintain support for a referendum above 60% for an extended period, then “I would acknowledge that there was a desire for a referendum.” Current polling has support for a referendum at around 51%. Previously the UK Government had outright rejected calls for a second independence referendum with the PM stating such suggestions as “irresponsible and reckless.”

Democracy & Media

People’s Newsroom launches
Megan Lucero and the team at The People’s Newsroom celebrated their launch event today. The new initiative will begin on an experimental basis in Swansea, providing hands-on startup support to design innovative journalism initiatives and invest in community newsroom leaders traditionally marginalised by the media.

Consultations on the media with upcoming deadlines
Have a look at these and make your voice heard:

We Own It, Media Reform Coalition and others publish briefing on Channel 4 privatisation
Despite having become more commercialised since the 1990s, Channel 4 still plays a vital role in the UK media landscape. The briefing document by We Own It, Voices of the Listener and Viewer, British Broadcasting Challenge and the Media Reform Coalition, aims to help individuals and organisations respond to the consultation (above).

Economic scale of misinformation revealed in new report by NewsGuard
The report shows that fake news sites are being unintentionally funded by major advertisers’ programmatic advertising to the tune of $1 for every $2.16 in digital ad revenue.

Funding Democracy

Less than one month to apply for major democracy funding opportunity
Open Society Foundations (OSF) has launched a call for proposals to fund a piece of participatory design work, with quite a short deadline (7 October). They’re looking for a UK-based non-profit organisation to lead a group of partners/stakeholders to develop a participatory process to design a new approach to community safety and policing resource allocation. The purpose is to design a participatory and multi-stakeholder (including police) process, where the process itself educates the public and other actors about policing and community safety budgets and outcomes. The process will result in the design of a participatory approach to resource allocation (such as participatory budgeting or other community decision-making models), which can be trialled in a UK location(s). Some at OSF are apparently worried that the language of the call, and the size of the budget ($300k) may be off-putting for many orgs, and has asked for it to be shared widely.

And Finally…

New report from Involve and Institute for Government
The report calls for greater government engagement with the public in designing net zero policies.

Directory of Social Change launches new Governance App
The new free platform helps you review and improve your organisation’s governance. You can use it to gather responses from your board, generate performance scores of your campaign or org, highlight differing views across the board and have targeted discussions about what’s going well and where to improve.

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

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 Lara Parizotto — Co-Manager at the Young Europeans Network, Shaun Roberts — Head of Campaigns at Unlock Democracy, Liz Crosbie — Project Director at RebootGB, Kyle Taylor — Director at Fair Vote UK, Rebecca Deegan — Founder at I Have A Voice, Josiah Mortimer — Head of Communications at Electoral Reform Society, Holly Morgan-Davies — Make Votes Matter, Peter Keeling — Voting Information at Democracy Club and Ciaran Cummins — Researcher at Demos.

See you next time, add to your calendar

James, Molly, and The Centre for Democracy team

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