Monthly news, jobs, grants and gossip from across the democracy sector, brought to you by James Moulding and Max Roche of the UK Democracy Network. Read by 400+ democracy organisations. We read everyone’s newsletters & research so you don’t have to.
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Thanks to everyone who joined us last week for our Democracy Check-In. We were joined by Yvonne Murphy — Omidaze Productions (Democracy Box), Ruth Hannan — People’s Powerhouse, Mohammed Afridi — Civic Power Fund, Rebekah McCabe — Involve, Adam Mendum — Involve, Patti Garcia — Demos, Rosie Trevill — Elect Her, Lyanne Nicholl — 50:50 Parliament, Alastair Binnie-Lubbock — Sortition Foundation, Josiah Mortimer — Byline Times, Lord Chris Rennard, Myf Nixon — mySociety, Pip Eldridge — Voice of the Listener & Viewer, Madison Hammonds — CitizenCard, Laurie Moulton-Ulrich, Martyn Harris — North Warks Borough Council, Perry Walker — TalkShop, Lewis Westbury — Nesta, Joe Mitchell — Public Interest News Foundation, Hattie Andrews — The Politics Project, Matt Chocqueel-Mangan– Vote for Policies and Frances Crook — Commission on Political Power.
See the full Democracy Offers & Needs community sheet here, add yours in too! Below are a selection of highlights:
Migrant Democracy Project require policy change costing assistance
Migrant Democracy Project (MDP) work to ensure every resident of the UK has equal access to democratic participation in the UK. The MDP team need semi-urgent specialist assistance with how to cost the implementation of a policy change, in this case, Residence-Based Voting Rights (RBVR). Contact Lara Parizotto if you can assist.
Are you thinking about deliberation and participation through a design lens? Brian Morgan wants to know
Brian Morgan is currently undertaking a PhD at Ulster University. They’re particularly interested in exploring who, if anyone, is working on citizens’ assemblies and deliberative practices through a design lens. If you know anyone, or would like to discuss, contact Brian.
Martyn Harris offers subject matter expertise around electoral law & practice
Your friendly neighbourhood elections administrator, Martyn Harris, Head of Elections at North Warks & Nuneaton and Bedworth Councils, is kindly offering their advice and guidance on electoral law and practice, and their experience of working in a polling station or observing an election count. If either of these are helpful, please contact Martyn.
Ruth Hannan of People’s Powerhouse offers the chance to join their community map of the North
Are you an organisation working to make change happen in the North of England? Peoples’ Powerhouse invites you to join their community map and growing network. Last week People’s Powerhouse brought together the network at their amazing #ThisIsTheNorth Conference — the largest pan-Northern conference of the year.
Together We Can, Democracy Network Conference tickets now on sale
Last year at our inaugural conference more than 100 organisations, elected representatives, civil society leaders, campaigners and journalists came together for two days of stimulating discussion, collaboration and connection. Join us next month at our annual democracy gathering as all eyes turn to the prospect of a general election, featuring panel discussions, workshops, networking lunches and even a ‘Democracy’s Got Talent’ evening dinner. Register now on Eventbrite, bursaries are available for travel and ticketing costs.
Networking for People of Colour in the democracy sector
Operation Black Vote, The Black Equity Organisation, The Politics Project and the Civic Power Fund are working on an event specifically for people of colour with decision-making power in their organisation who are working on or organising around the 2024 election. If this is for you or you want to nominate someone to attend please contact [email protected]
All Island Network for Better Democracy launching soon
Rebekah McCabe, Head of Northern Ireland at Involve, has recently been awarded funding by the St Stephens Green Trust to develop a new network for democracy covering the island of Ireland. The Network for Better Democracy is a new initiative to bring together people interested in ways to enable high quality, impactful participation and deliberative democracy on the island of Ireland. Find out more, contact Rebekah.
Demos and Engage Britain undertake merger
Last month, Engage Britain merged with Demos, pooling resources and expertise to help make the case for participatory policy making. Their new chapter will start with a people-powered policy making programme which they will run ahead of the general election. In a statement, Demos highlighted their shared mission to put people at the heart of policy-making, championing participatory policy-making as a solution to our democratic challenges, saying that ‘by coming together, we hope to turbo-charge our impact, making the case for involving people in the decisions that affect their lives and ensuring that their ideas and insights are listened to.’
Back the call to reinstate the Access to Elected Office Fund for Disabled candidates
Elect Her, Disability Rights UK, Disability Policy Centre and Centenary Action Group published their joint statement, backed by over 30 democracy sector organisations. The statement calls on the UK Government to urgently reinstate an Access to Elected Office Fund to support Disabled candidates to contest elections. Supportive organisations can share this Write to MP tool here, and raise awareness on social media.
The Democracy Box publish their report and proof of concept
After four years of research and two years of writing the report, the Democracy Box report is now live! Democracy Box trained recruited and trained 61 young people as co-creators of the project, with more than 600 young people participating in events & focus groups as part of the project — totalling 9,000 visits to The Talking Shop trials. Yvonne Murphy and the team have published two versions of the report, an abridged version and an extensive version — don’t miss it.
Rise in hate crime against LGBTQ+ people continues, Stonewall slams UK Government inaction
New hate crime statistics released by the Office for National Statistics last month show that England and Wales continue to become an increasingly less safe place for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. Increase in hate crimes against trans people increased 11% last year and by 186% in the past five years, the report states. Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ charity, argue this comes against a backdrop of central government withdrawing support for trans people and the growth of divisive and demonising rhetoric about trans people in society. Read the report.
50:50 Parliament hire their first CEO, host #AskHerToStand Day in Parliament
Lyanne Nicholl, the newly hired CEO of 50:50 Parliament, celebrates their recent #AskHerToStand Day in the House of Commons, where hundreds of women joined up to stand for office in the upcoming elections. ‘I couldn’t have asked for a warmer, or more inspiring, welcome to 50:50’ Lyanne said. If this piques your interest, don’t miss their monthly bitesize events, or their upcoming ‘Be A Councillor’ event with the LGA on the 7th December, as well as their programme of support for women standing for office across the UK — sign up to find out more now.
Sortition Foundation launch new Europe operation, hiring new Head of Press & Comms
Based out of Budapest, Sortition Europe aims to run democratic lotteries for European Citizens’ Panels and other transnational European citizens’ assemblies — see more about this on their blog. They’re also hiring a new Head of Press & Comms, find out more here — deadline 20th December.
Patchwork Foundation host MP of the Year Awards
Last week Patchwork Foundation held their annual MP of the Year Awards, celebrating MPs for their work on a range of areas from MPs championing young people, to cross-party collaboration, advocating for rural communities and supporting vulnerable communities.
Twitter posing challenges for comms leads
Democracy Network’s Comms Lead Adam is scratching his head at the increasingly restrictive algorithm on the platform formerly known as Twitter and wondering what other channels people might be using or considering as an alternative. Contact Adam to discuss.
Relatedly, if you’re a comms or digital lead, we highly recommend you join Duane Raymond’s Electronic Campaigning Forum (ECF) community for all the latest chatter and gossip on matters such as this!
Elect Her offering new Digital Self-Defence and Self Care training
mySociety looking for new board members, celebrates 20 years with awards ceremony
Last month mySociety celebrated their 20th anniversary with an awards ceremony in central London. Myf Nixon, Marketing & Communications Manager at mySociety, reveals all, including the award winners on their blog. But that’s not all, they’re now looking for a new Trustee and Non-Executive Director for SocietyWorks — find out more here, deadline for applications is 15th January.
Innovation in Politics Awards busy judging for latest awards submissions
Now on their 7th annual edition of the Awards, the Innovation in Politics Institute Awards work to celebrate and highlight courageous political work across Europe, including the UK. Take a look at their awards in recent years for a flavour of the type of projects they have selected as best practice examples. Whilst submissions for the latest round closed on the 8th Dec, IiPA have indicated they are open to late submissions past the deadline, for the keen beans — you can do so here.
UK GovCamp 2024 is coming
Every year the team at GovCamp run a free unconference for people who want to improve government. Next year’s conference is going to be a 500 attendee in-person event in central London. If this is the first time you’ve come across GovCamp, check out their video explainer.
New Systemic Justice toolkit empowers communities to take the law into their own hands
The new toolkit for movements and communities outlines an approach for strategic litigation, using legal action as a tool to better fight racial, social and economic injustice. Check out the new resources and guide by System Justice and apply it in your work .
Medact looking for new Executive Director
Medact works to bring together health workers to fight for health justice. They’re now hiring a new Executive Director to develop their next five-year strategy and build on their previous five years of success and growth, bringing lasting victories in their campaigns for health justice. Apply now, deadline 2nd January.
Stronger Things 2024 returns
Stronger Things returns next summer bringing together 1,600 changemakers from the local government, healthcare, voluntary and community sectors. Run by New Local, the annual festival offers the opportunity to be part of an expansive network setting the community power agenda.
UK Government increases election spending limits by 80%, attracts ire of Electoral Commission
Earlier this year Secretary of State Michael Gove announced that campaign spending limits for Westminster elections were to be increased. As Justin Fisher explains for the Constitution Unit Blog, since the last time spending limits were set through PPERA, these numbers have never been adjusted for inflation and as a result is approx 50% lower in real terms than when it was introduced. The latest change increasing limits by 80% mean that the Conservative Party General Election spend could top £36 million, £17 million more than their 2019 total. The Electoral Commission reported they had not seen evidence to support the changes and are ‘concerned that the proposals risk damaging the transparency of political donations’.
Byline Times highlight ‘massive hike to election spending limits’
Writing for the Byline Times Josiah Mortimer provides some context to the spending limit changes outlined above, that in the last year alone the three largest donations to political parties were given to the Conservative Party, including two individual donations of more than £5m. Labour left-winger Lord Prem Sikka called for the Govt to consider introducing a law which would require political parties to state what they’ve promised in return for donations. Rejecting the suggestion, Conservative frontbencher Baroness Penn said the Government had ‘no plans to limit the size of donations that are made’, claiming that there are ‘procedures in place to ensure there’s transparency’, Josiah writes. Dig deeper on this story at the Byline Times. Lord Rennard, who posed an oral question in the House of Lords on this several weeks ago also writes in Bylines here.
Get set for The Politics Project General Election Strategy Day, 2nd Feb 2024
Building on their strategy day earlier this year bringing together more than 80 civic education organisations from across the Democracy Classroom Network, The Politics Project team are planning a new event on 2nd Feb 2024 to collectively plan and coordinate activities in the run up to the various, local, regional and national elections taking place in 2024. The event will include workshops with subject matter experts on key issues orgs are likely to face next year, as well as key networking opportunities, joint planning and collaboration. If you are interested in coming along, please contact [email protected]
That’s not all from Democracy Classroom, they’re also organising those interested in working around hustings. Join them on the 15th January 1–2pm, contact [email protected] for more details.
National Voter Registration Week — 4th March 2024
Democracy Classroom and their partner organisations have agreed a date for their collaborative National Voter Registration Week (NVRW), commencing on the 4th March 2024 — this is an opportunity for those running voter registration campaigns to focus efforts, work together, and amplify the reach of the various campaigns. NVRW will run in collaboration with National Voter Registration Day that is planned for April and is being led by My Life My Say.
CitizenCard gear up for their No ID No Vote campaign launch
CitizenCard is a non-profit organisation focused on administering PASS cards, which is a voter ID option. Stevie Wren & Madison Hammonds share that they are now gearing up for a January launch of their No ID No Vote voter information campaign — they’re keen for others to reach out and team up, find out more here.
Polimapper publishes new report on the next generation of MPs
The report by Polimapper, All Change at Westminster! Meet the Class of 24, looks at the current crop of candidates standing for election in 2024. Though the data presents a dire picture, only 39% of prime candidates (those in target seats or successor candidates) are women and just 10% are from an ethnic minority background. Polimapper’s report marks the first detailed aggregate analysis of those set to make up the next House of Commons.
Democracy Club launch their prospective parliamentary candidate tracker
In preparation for next year’s General Election, Democracy Club has launched a prospective parliamentary candidate tracker here. They have also created a widget that generates a timetable for any given election date allowing you to prepare better your election activities.
Campaign Lab develops new electoral law chatbot prototype for charities and campaigners
Campaign Lab’s Lefke Kerr and Jethro Reeve are developing an AI powered document search chatbot to assist campaigners, activists and charities make sense of electoral law documentation from the Electoral Commission, and so far so good. Last month they held a successful testing session, now they’re looking for funding to take the work further, can you help?
Vote for Policies is supporting campaign organisations who want to help their members vote on the issues that matter to them
For the last four general elections, Vote for Policies has run a manifesto-comparison survey to help people make an informed choice when they vote. For the next election they are also creating custom versions for campaign organisations. You can host it yourself and promote it independently. Here’s an example they did for private renters. Ahead of the election VfP hopes this can also provide a useful tool to gather data on policy popularity, enabling organisations to develop dialogue with political parties accordingly. For any questions or info please email [email protected]
UK exposes attempted Russian interference in political and democratic processes, say UK Government
The UK Government and her international allies have called out sustained and unsuccessful attempts to interfere in UK politics and democratic processes since at least 2015, GCHQ reports. The threats originate from Centre 18 of Russia’s Federal Security Service, they say. Malicious activity by Russia has included the hacking and leaking of UK-US trade documents ahead of the 2019 General Election, the hacking of the Institute for Statecraft and a range of other targets, including university, journalists, NGOs, CSOs and public sector organisations. High risk individuals, including politicians and journalists, have been requested to follow new guidance, published last week, to help defend against these resurgent online threats.
Sadiq Khan criticises voter ID laws which they claim could disenfranchise 900,000 Londoners next year
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has struck out against the Voter ID legislation that will be in place for the first time in London at next year’s Mayoral Election. Khan called it a ‘cynical attempt to make it harder for people to vote’ as 900,000 Londoners could be silenced. Their figures come from Labour-commissioned Opinium polling which found that 15 percent of Londoners do not have voter ID.
Meta discuss their approach to elections in 2024
Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Meta and former UK Deputy Prime Minister, sets our Meta’s vision and role in the various upcoming elections across the globe in the next 12 months.
Help us populate our sector funding list
The Democracy Network is part-way through refurbishing our resources and directories, including the UK Democracy Map and funding list. This is the current list of active democracy grant funds in the UK, please review and tell us if anything is missing, or if we’ve made an error — alternatively, add any grant funds we’ve missed via this form.
Civic Power Fund hiring, publish new research on funding justice, launching new youth organising alliance
Mohammed Afridi, Civic Power Fund’s Director of Organising, reports that they’re launching a new Alliance for Youth Organising — a new intergenerational collective that’ll work together to invest in spaces, networks and organisations to support youth organising in the UK, funded by Civic Power Fund (CPF), Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and the Blagrave Trust. To this end they’re hiring a new Youth Organising Lead and up to nine new Members of the new alliance. 5th January deadline for both of these, apply now and share the word about these excellent opportunities. In addition to this, the CPF published a new analysis on social justice grantmaking in the UK in recent years, worth a read.
Polish Migrants Organise for Change & Civic Power Fund report back on their New York learning exchange
With funding from Unbound Philanthropy, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and This Day Foundation, POMOC and Civic Power Fund brought together 14 community organisers and 5 funders to head over to the US for a knowledge exchange with their American counterparts. In their blog, Martha Mackenzie, Executive Director of the Civic Power Fund, unpacks eight key takeaways from their recent trip.
Civic Innovation Fund now open for applications
The CIVICS Innovation Hub, an NGO supporting civic education in Europe, have opened calls for their Civic Innovation Fund, a new pooled fund aimed at pioneering new ideas in civil society. Apply here and find out more, CIF are offering €10,000 for piloting, incubation and scaling, for a period of 12 months — deadline 25 Jan 2024.
Changemakers for Democracy selecting Fellowships
Supported by the Open Society Foundation, the Changemakers for Democracy Fellowship is a 12 month programme supporting up to 15 Europe-based practitioners and representatives of innovations, movements and collectives working on democratic renewal and new economic paradigms. The Fellowship is specifically aimed at supporting activities to radically improve democratic renewal. Whilst the deadline closed last week, you can find out more here.
The New Institute is looking for Future of Democracy Fellows
The Hamburg based fellowship is fully funded. See here for more information.
Catalyst publish list of third sector digital funding opportunities
Catalyst has published a full list of third sector funding organisations — check it out now.
Churchill Fellowship open to applications
The paid Churchill Fellowship enables successful applicants to spend 4–8 weeks meeting and working with innovators in your field, anywhere in the world, in person or online, helping you develop your learnings into practical outputs for your community or sector. Find out more.
New Economy Organisers Network apply for further funding to extend their electoral law programme
In recent months, the New Economy Organisers Network (NEON) have been running a programme of high quality briefings on electoral law for campaigners and charities ahead of the 2024 General Election, together with Bates Wells and Stone King. Now they’re looking to extend their electoral law briefings and workshops as the election nears — do you know any relevant funds, can you help fund these important activities?
Major political reform could secure key Labour target voters, Compass and Unlock Democracy study suggests
A YouGov survey conducted for Unlock Democracy and Compass has revealed a strong appetite amongst Labour’s two key target groups ‘Workington Man’ and ‘Stevenage Woman’ for major political reform. The focus groups emphasised the lack of trust in politicians to deliver on reform, but the findings signal a vote-winning opportunity for political parties, especially Labour, if they indicate they are serious about political reform.
Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design launches new report on democratic innovations
Lewis Westbury, Senior Developer at Nesta, reports that they have just published their latest Collective Intelligence through Digital Tools for Democratic Innovation (COLDIGIT) report, Making Democratic Innovations Stick. The report explores the barriers to innovations, the prevailing reasons to use innovations and perceptions on involving the public in decision making — read the report here.
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee urge the UK Government to establish an NI Citizens’ Assembly
Last week the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) published their report into the effectiveness of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. In the report, the NIAC ‘urge the Government to begin preparations for establishing a Northern Ireland Citizens’ Assembly’. In this short blog Involve unpacks the recommendations they made to the NIAC back in 2020.
Involve asks, could involving citizens help unlock true English devolution?
Calum Green and Maddie Gough at Involve are developing a new set of proposals around how deliberative and participatory processes could help to better deliver English devolution and tackle the democratic deficit through greater involvement of citizens. Read the blog announcing this new tranche of work by Involve and reach out to Maddie to find out more or contribute to the project.
Cameron’s reappointment prompts fresh calls for House of Lords reform
A plethora of MPs and campaigners have criticised David Cameron’s appointment to the House of Lords claiming it makes a mockery of the honours system. CEO of campaign group Republic, Graham Smith, said the move is a reminder of ‘the urgent need to ditch the Lords in favour of an elected upper house’ whilst Naomi Smith, CEO of Best for Britain, said Cameron’s appointment is ‘another Tory VIP lane, only this time for unelected has-beens.’
Constitution Unit publishes latest round up of constitutional developments
The Constitution Unit has published their latest issue of the Monitor. Their thrice-yearly bulletin provides a round-up and analysis of constitutional developments over the preceding four months. In this latest edition, they cover the controversies over the government’s attitude to parliamentary scrutiny, recent decisions over the alleged misconduct of parliamentarians, demands for reform of House of Lords appointments, the Electoral Commission’s report on the impact of voter ID legislation, and much more.
Where next for English devolution? Institute for Government investigate
In a special episode of the Inside Briefing podcast, Akash Paun from the Institute for Government travels across England to find out whether a ‘devolution revolution’ is really taking place. The podcast explores how power is being devolved to the East Midlands, and brings together an expert panel to make sense of England’s evolving devolution settlement.
ANTIPARTY planning their first campaign advocating for direct and deliberative democracy
Isabella Roberts, Founder of ANTIPARTY, is looking to set up and facilitate citizens’ assemblies and citizens’ panels in collaboration with other organisations and projects working on direct and deliberative democracy — get in touch with Bella to find out more.
Commission on Political Power exploring responses to corruption
Frances Crook and the team at the Commission on Political Power are soliciting ideas about improving the UK legislation, transparency, behaviour and accountability in relation to corruption. Submissions to the Commission should be directed to [email protected]. A briefing on corruption and political funding will be published in the New Year.
Senior politicians are attempting to wholly bypass constitutional norms, report Constitutional Monitoring Group
The latest report from the Constitution Monitoring Group covering the six month period from Jan — June 2023, found that senior politicians, including a former Prime Minister, have violated basic constitutional and ethical principles. The report states ‘there is evidence of a desire on the part of some to wholly bypass or even remove barriers to the violation of constitutional norms.’
New report from Carnegie UK highlights ‘perilous state of democracy’
New research from Carnegie UK has found a widespread lack of trust across all age groups in the UK’s political systems and institutions. The survey found that almost three quarters (73%) of people in the UK feel that they cannot influence decisions that affect the UK as a whole, whilst 52% said they have a low level of trust in the Government.
Liberty condemn 630 climate activist arrests in one month alone
In November alone UK police arrested more than 630 peaceful climate protesters campaigning against new oil and gas production in the UK. Liberty condemns the statistics as ‘staggering and shocking’. Some accounts of what activists have faced in recent weeks:
Police have been making these arrests under Section 7 of the new Public Order Action 2023. A spokesperson for Climate Action Support Pathway said ‘this was the first real test for these new Section 7 powers…and it became quickly clear the police would use them readily’.
Riot police raid London Kurdish community cultural event
Dozens of Metropolitan Police Territorial Support Group officers attempted to raid the Kurdish People’s Democratic Assembly event at the Kurdish Community Centre in Haringey, London, last month. Members of the community later reported that officers failed to produce a warrant and indicated ‘no legitimate reason’ for the aggression and violence that they conducted themselves with against a community of civilians celebrating a cultural event. The Kurdish Community Centre is now pursuing legal action against the Metropolitan Police.
Children at risk of being deported by Home Office, say Human Rights groups
Human rights groups have warned that unaccompanied minors could be deported under the Rwanda scheme as more than 1,000 minors have been mistakenly identified as adults by the Home Office. According to a Refugee Council study of initial age-disputed decisions in 2021, 94% of Home Office assessments were incorrect.
Majority of voters say think tank funding should be more transparent
A majority (59%) of the British public believe think tanks are not transparent, Deltapoll polling for the Centre Think Tank and Millbank Think Tank has found. The polling forms part of a new report by the think tanks into the state of think tank transparency in which they analysed over 100 think tanks and found that 22% of think tanks did not display a total income and only 32% of think tanks revealed all funders over £7,500.
Voice of the Listener & Viewer developing new coalition, hold their 40th Annual Autumn Conference
Pip Eldridge of Voice of the Listener & Viewer, says they are currently building a new coalition to campaign for the government to make changes to the draft Media Bill to ensure more effective regulation to safeguard against disinformation and ensure access to media regardless of bandwidth constraints. Last week they held their 40th Annual Conference celebrating Public Service Broadcasting and honing in on what is being done to preserve it — see more over on VLV’s socials.
Public Interest News Foundation developing new NewsMatch style matchfunding programme
Public Interest News Foundation are currently across many pies at the moment, from LTN disinformation research, surveying UK newsrooms, improving their local news mapping, working on the digital media advocacy bill, hatching a plan for an Indie News Day and developing a new NewsMatch matchfunding programme for non profit news in the UK — if any of this sounds relevant to you, chat to Joe for more information — oh, and they quit Twitter too.
Society of Editors welcomes new plans to protect media freedom and journalists
New plans unveiled by the government to promote media freedom and protect journalists have been welcomed by the Society of Editors. The new protections will see enhanced training for police officers on the rights of journalists to report from protests, a new online portal for journalists to report abuse, as well as a new industry taskforce on keeping staff safe.
Networks 4 Democracy launches
A new Horizon Europe-funded initiative to establish a new European network of practitioners and researchers in the fields of democracy, civic deliberation, participation and citizenship education has kicked off in Brussels. Networks for Democracy (Nets4Dem) aims to spread knowledge and best practice about democratic innovation and civic participation throughout Europe and globally.
Jobs with upcoming deadlines
See you next time, add to your calendar
James, Max and the UK Democracy Network team