Our planning for the UK General Election

By Press Office
September 18, 2014

Tomorrow (19 September 2014) it will be exactly eight months until the United Kingdom general election. It is also the day on which the provisions of the new Lobbying Act come into force, imposing significant restrictions on how charities, NGOs and other non-party organisations are seen to campaign for their causes and concerns during this designated pre-election period.

Like Christian Aid and a number of church-related agencies, Ekklesia has no plans to register with the Electoral Commission as a lobbyist, since its activities during the election period will be a continuation of the research, policy work, commentary and advocacy that we have been engaged in for many years on some of the key issues that are bound to feature in debate. We do not and never will endorse or seek endorsement from any political parties or candidates and we will be spending well under the specified limits on anything that could be construed as falling within the remit of the Act. This will be monitored carefully.

Our chief concerns will continue to include economics for the benefit of people and planet, social security and welfare for all, environmental sustainability, peacemaking and disarmament, a hospitable and welcoming approach to migration, promoting participatory democracy and political reform, hearing the voices of disabled people and others marginalised by the way society is run, global action for development, and through all this, working with Christians and churches to recover the core emphasis of the gospel on judging action and behaviour according to how it impacts the least and the last in the domains of politics and religion.

Over the past ten years, running right back to the 2005 election where we published a non-party change manifesto challenging ‘politics as usual’ from a specifically moral and theological viewpoint, Ekklesia has published reports, essays and analysis on the whole gamut of concerns listed above. Our approach is based not on party thinking but on social and personal transformation as the key to community and political-economic change. We will continue with this approach up to and well beyond May 2015. Our affiliations to shared advocacy networks are long-standing and listed under the ‘About’ section of our website.

We will issue a more detailed statement on the Lobbying Act in due course, based on the careful reading of Electoral Commission guidance and sound advice we have been gathering through the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement chaired by Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, including joint legal observation on the requirements of statute. We have, over the past 18 months, advocated for the repeal and replacement of this legislation, which we believe harms non-party voluntary organisations and unions, while doing little to address corporate abuses of lobbying. That remains our position. But in the meantime the the law is there for the period of the election and needs to be dealt with in an informed and responsible fashion. That is what our supporters and backers expect, and that is what we will do.

* Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement: http://civilsocietycommission.info

* More on the upcoming General Election from Ekklesia here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015
Views expressed by individual contributors on GE15 do not necessarily reflect an official Ekklesia view.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.