Unlock Democracy is a grassroots campaign for democratic reform and participation. We campaign for voting reform, transparent and accountable government, and including women and young people in our political system.
In the spending review yesterday George Osborne announced he was cutting the money given to opposition parties in the House of Commons by 19%. This is another way of undermining our democracy at a time when millions of people are about to be removed from the electoral register, freedom of information, our right to know, is being restricted and our constitution is being rewritten behind closed doors with the devolution deals.
This weekend we welcomed Unlock Democracy members to our Annual General Meeting, where we debate the big issues that you want to see us campaign on. We had more of you taking part than ever before, with forty members attending and many more contributing to the discussions online. For those of you who couldn’t attend, here’s what you missed:
On Friday, the Scottish Government published their long-awaited Lobbying Bill outlining plans for a lobbying register. We’ve been campaigning for a lobbying register in Scotland for more than two years, so we hoped that this bill would genuinely bring lobbying out into the open. The public should have the right to know who is lobbying our politicians, about what, and how.
Unfortunately, the proposed register falls far short of the goal of real transparency. Scotland’s lobbyists will be breathing a sigh of relief reading this bill. The register is full of handy loopholes for lobbyists.
Last night, the Lords voted to delay the government’s cuts to tax credits. Conservative ministers have spent the morning touring the news studios to proclaim a constitutional crisis. Lords experts agree that it is nothing of the sort.
On Monday morning, 26th Oct, Parliament's Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee’s 'devolution inquiry’ will be in Manchester. Part of their visit will be dedicated to hearing reports about public reaction to the much vaunted "Devo Manc" deal for Greater Manchester, which obliges the citizens of Greater Manchester to accept an Elected Executive Mayor as leader of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in return for the transfer of some powers away from central Westminster control.
Back in August, thousands of you wrote to David Cameron to tell him to stop sending more unelected politicians to the House of Lords. The PM’s nominations to the Lords were repeatedly delayed after criticism of the names of party donors and cronies on the list. Finally Cameron announced 45 new peerages, swelling the ranks of the Lords to an unprecedented 826 peers. Last month we got a response from the Cabinet Office, which said that although there is a strong case for electing the House of Lords, “this is not a priority in this Parliament”.
Despite the AV referendum result, the clamour for electoral reform didn’t die- it merely suffered a flesh wound. This was clear from the numbers of people that signed the Change.org petition created before the general election by 16 year old Owen Winter, a Cornish MYP. Then, the general election occurred- we all now know that the 2015 general election was the most disproportionate ever.
In December, up to 1.9m people will be deleted from the voting register.
The way we register to vote is changing. Councils have been transferring everyone from the old voting register to the new one, but they haven’t finished the job. The government originally planned to give councils until December 2016 to re-register the missing voters
The Sex and Power 2015 report published yesterday by a coalition of feminist and democracy organisations, including Unlock Democracy shows how urgently we need to address the lack of diversity in our politics.