Ekklesia and the 2017 General Election

By Press Office
May 3, 2017

As in previous years (2005, 2010 and 2015) Ekklesia will not be registering with the Electoral Commission as a lobbyist. Our 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 will be spending well under the specified limits on anything that could be construed as falling within the remit of relevant legislation in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ekklesia is a private limited company which operates on a non-profit basis and has a current annual budget of around £20,000. We are compliant with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) as amended by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 -- despite our substantial opposition (along with 160+ other civic and charity groups) to the 'gagging' elements of the latter, including its skewing of electoral politics in favour of large corporate interests and its inherent bias against grassroots democratic and campaigning organisations.  

Our themes for the 2017 election are #Vote4CommonGood and #BeyondTribalPolitics. Our chief concerns 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, heeding the voices of disabled people (#CripTheVoteUK) and others marginalised by the way society is run, global action for sustainable development -- and through all this, working with churches and others of good will (both religious and non-religious) to recover what is a core emphasis of the Christian message: judging action and behaviour according to how it impacts the least and the last in the domains of politics and belief. 

Over the past twelve years, running right back to the 2005 election, where we produced 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 8th June 2017. Our affiliations to shared advocacy networks are long-standing and listed under the ‘About’ section of our website.

Neverthless, we cannot and will not disguise our major differences with the ideology of austerity and the policies persued in its name by all UK governments since the financial crash in 2007/8. These have caused immense and demonstrable harm to health and well being, local democracy, women, disabled and sick people, the increasing number in low paid and/or insecure jobs, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and the environment. We also wholeheartedly oppose the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system and the possession, use and threatened use of all WMDs. 

Ekklesia's freelance staff, associates, volunteers, consultants and supporters come from a range of backgrounds. They are in a number of political parties and none. We want to go on respecting that in all that we do. Nonetheless, we continue to stand by the practical principles, policies and values we have develped and advocated since our founding in 2002, and we will go on advocating those during the General Election period. We believe in bringing together all who want to work for a just, peaceful, equal and sustainable society, both within and beyond the arena of representative democracy. More recently, some have spoken of this in terms of a 'progressive alliance' for change. The challenge of making that work for a genuine common good (rather than a vacuous rhetoric around being "all in this together" when that is manifestly not the case) remains.

Simon Barrow, Director, Ekklesia (www.ekklesia.co.uk)

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.