Non-party campaigning ahead of elections

Abstract

This is a report of the independent Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, which was set up following concerns that Part 2 of the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill would have a ‘chilling effect’ on non-party campaigning. It is intended to give voice to stakeholders not consulted ahead of the Bill’s publication and to inform the actions of UK Government and Parliamentarians in their deliberations about the legislation. Ekklesia is a supporter of the work of the Commission and shares the serious concerns expressed in this report and elsewhere about Part 2 of the Bill, and also about Part 3 concerning the regulation of trade unions.

This report addresses three key issues:
i) The state of civil society’s engagement in democratic processes
ii) The likely impact of Part 2 of the Bill on campaigning activity if it passes into law in its current form
iii) What changes to regulation of non-party campaigning are needed ahead of elections.

The Commission will consider whether further reports assessing the extent to which our recommendations have been met by Government and Parliamentarians would be helpful.

Government did not consult any of the major stakeholders affected by the legislation before publishing the Bill.

This report is based on evidence drawn from stakeholders across the UK and political spectrum during a two-week period. Those submitting evidence included the Electoral Commission, key political actors in support of and opposing Part 2 of the Bill, representatives of civil society organisations, academics and the public.

The Commission organised evidence sessions in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and heard from dozens of charities, campaign groups, community groups, faith groups, think tanks and online networks.

The Commission was disappointed that an early agreement to give evidence by Tom Brake MP was withdrawn. The Commission was grateful to Lord Tyler for articulating a case in support of Part 2 of the Bill.

* All submissions will be published on the Commission website: www.civilsocietycommission.info

* Read the full report here (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/civil_society_commission_report.pdf