Constitutional Motion: Joint membership

Proposer: James Grindrod

Seconder: Stuart Weir

This meeting notes:

1.    That section 3.1.2 of the Unlock Democracy constitution states:

The membership subscription shall be set by the Annual General Meeting which shall last until the following Annual General Meeting. The Annual General Meeting may set a specific membership subscription for benefit claimants, unwaged individuals and individuals on a fixed income.

2.    That several hundred of Unlock Democracy’s members currently have more than one name associated with their membership; that they contribute at the standard subscription rate; and that their status as voting members is currently unclear.

This meeting believes:

1.    That a category of joint membership should be established, allowing two people at the same address to pay a single membership subscription at a rate to be set by the Annual General Meeting, with both being considered members of Unlock Democracy.

This meeting resolves:

1.    To amend the second sentence of section 3.1.2 of the Unlock Democracy constitution to read:

The Annual General Meeting may set a specific membership subscription for benefit claimants, unwaged individuals and individuals on a fixed income, and may also set a joint membership subscription for two people at the same address.

2.    To set the joint membership subscription rate at £30. The associated rebate to local groups shall be £9 and the rebate to Devolved Organisations shall be £3.

Constitutional Motion: Setting membership rates

Proposer: James Grindrod

Seconder: Stuart Weir

 

This meeting notes:

1.    That section 3.1.2 of the Unlock Democracy constitution states:

The membership subscription shall be set by the Annual General Meeting which shall last until the following Annual General Meeting. The Annual General Meeting may set a specific membership subscription for benefit claimants, unwaged individuals and individuals on a fixed income.

This meeting believes:

1.    That the Annual General Meeting should continue to have the power to set the rate of membership subscriptions, but that the AGM only needs to consider the rate if there is a proposal to change it.

This meeting resolves:

1.    To amend the first sentence of section 3.1.2 of the Unlock Democracy constitution to read:

The membership subscription shall be set by the Annual General Meeting, which shall last until changed by a subsequent Annual General Meeting.

The Brexit Process

Proposer: Stephen Carter

Seconder: Sepi Golzari-Munro

Unlock Democracy notes:

1.    That Unlock Democracy does not take and has never taken a position on the UK’s membership of the European Union;

2.    That the UK’s decision to leave the EU nonetheless raises profound and complex questions of constitutional change, which could be resolved in many different ways;

Unlock Democracy believes:

1.    That in these circumstances democratic consultation is essential to the legitimacy of the path which is eventually chosen;

2.    That the prominence of calls to ‘take back control’ during the Brexit campaign adds additional weight to arguments for strengthening British democracy;

3.    That there is genuine cause for concern over the influence of private lobbyists on the Brexit process

Unlock Democracy resolves:

1.    To campaign for the fullest possible democratic engagement and control around the Brexit process and associated constitutional changes, including full parliamentary debate and other checks and balances against unilateral executive action or undue influence from private lobbyists.

Review of Parliamentary Boundaries

Proposer: Vicky Seddon

Seconder: Jenny Cronin

The current proposals from the Boundary Commission, to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, and which are now out for consultation, are flawed. The Commission has had to work to the Government approach to the process, despite advising against some of it elements. Problems arise because: 

  • the move to individual voter registration has not been introduced in a manner that ensures full registration
  • the proposals are based on number of registered voters, rather than on the size of the population that is eligible to vote. Communities of high mobility (e.g. areas with lots of rental properties, often city centres, or student areas) show the lowest registration rates,and hence under these proposals will be under-represented
  • the figures used in these proposals are those voters registered by December 2015, but, largely due to the EU referendum, there have been many more registrations since then. Why not use the most up to date figures?
  • community boundaries (whether natural communities, ward boundaries, local authority boundaries) should be honoured, but in seeking to equalise the size of constituencies, the + or – 5% that has been used is too tight to enable those natural community boundaries to be respected; other suggestions are for 7.5% or 10%

No doubt many of these points will be made in the consultation process that ends on 5th  December, but to prevent such a flawed set of proposals becoming the basis for the general election expected in 2020, there is a need for a significant campaign to expose the unfortunate biases which will occur if they are agreed. To prevent our democracy being further undermined, Unlock Democracy will support that campaign.

Referendums in UK

Proposer: Vicky Seddon

Seconder: Debbie Chay

Our experience this year demonstrates the unsatisfactory nature of our current way of doing things, with lack of clarity about the implications of the vote, poor information and much misinformation, and no requirement of a substantial majority before a hugely significant decision is taken.

Referendums need to be used rarely, cautiously and where there is good preparation, and clarity about consequent outcomes.

For a referendum to genuinely reflect the settled will of the people, there needs to be:

  • a political consensus that the issue should be put to the electorate, rather than decided through our representative democracy structures
  • sufficient safeguards in any proposed referendum against making major changes to the constitution without overwhelming support. Both turnouts and majority thresholds should be included
  • clarity about just what the next steps will be in terms of putting the outcome (if successful) into practice
  • a well-informed and balanced debate with misinformation and prejudices properly challenged

Such requirements should be incorporated into a written constitution.

Truth in referendums

Proposer: Judith King

Seconder: TBC

Unlock Democracy notes:

1.    That there was widespread concern about the misrepresentations of the truth and misinformation published by both sides during the EU referendum campaign.

2.    Moreover, according to the Electoral Reform Society, only 33% of the population felt informed or very well informed a week before the referendum. 

3.    That the Electoral Reform Society’s report on the EU Referendum recommends that ‘an official body – either the Electoral Commission or an appropriate alternative – should be empowered to intervene when overtly misleading information is disseminated by the official campaigns’ [1]

Unlock Democracy believes:

1.    We cannot have an effective, worthwhile democracy without a well informed public. This is of critical importance in underpinning all the other work of Unlock Democracy.  

2.    It is crucial to improve the accuracy of information in future elections, referenda, and other forms of public debate. 

Unlock Democracy resolves:

1.    To campaign for a supervisory body (such as the Electoral Commission) to be granted powers to intervene when misleading information is presented by campaigners and stop further dissemination

2.    To campaign for an increase in the powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to enable them to investigate and sanction MPs involved in significant misrepresentation of facts in a public context. 

[1] Electoral Reform Society, It’s Good to Talk, p10 (http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/publication/Its-good-to-talk-2016-EU-Referendum-Report.pdf)

Andrew Manning - 2016 Rodell Manifesto

Andrew Manning - 2016 Rodell Manifesto

WHO I AM:
Andrew Manning.
51 years young.
employed royal mail and former cwu union rep.Also part time tefl tutor
Formerly member Labour campaign electoral reform(lcer)national executive.

Formerly,COOP group-Essex&Herts area management committee.
Stood for marginal ward(Basildon council)three times and for Essex county council,once.

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Barry Stokes - 2016 Rodell Manifesto

Barry Stokes - 2016 Rodell Manifesto

I am a retired deputy headteacher of a large comprehensive school in Essex, where I was responsible  for the curriculum and the financial structure to enable the delivery of this. Throughout my nearly 40 years teaching in high schools I taught maths and physics, but in my later years I also taught P.S.E. issues, including financial awareness and social responsibility and the role of politics in society. From this work I became aware of the need to transform the way that modern society is governed to truly reflect the aspirations of the vast majority of its members. 

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James Grindrod - 2016 Council Candidate Manifestos

James Grindrod - 2016 Council Candidate Manifestos

Who is James Grindrod and why should you vote for him?

I am standing for a second term, as your voice on Unlock Democracy's Council. As a Council member, and Member of Management Board, I've worked hard over the last 2 years to improve the organisation, so we  can campaign harder for democratic reform.

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Andrew Blick - 2016 Council Manifesto

Andrew Blick - 2016 Council Manifesto

I am running for a fourth consecutive term on the Council.

I am Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History at King’s College London. I have written extensively on constitutional history and democratic reform in the UK, and make frequent media appearances on these subjects. I have advised numerous democratic reform groups internationally.

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Stephen Carter - 2016 Council Manifesto

Stephen Carter - 2016 Council Manifesto

I have served two terms on both the Unlock Democracy and Rodell boards, and have taken an active part in the helping both organisations get through some challenging and exciting times. 

In the past two years my major contribution has been as a member of the small group of council members who led initial work on the strategy review, and as an active player in the broader strategy discussions in council. My main concern, and the key priority if I am re-elected, was to ensure that we balance worrying about the immediate campaigns with the need to think big.

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Debbie Chay - 2016 Council Manifesto

Debbie Chay - 2016 Council Manifesto

Why I got involved in democratic reform
The establishment of Charter 88 coincided with my first full-time position as a lecturer-in-law specialising in Constitutional Law, European Law and Human Rights. Although I loved teaching, (and still do), I wanted to be more directly involved in my own subject matter – actively helping to promote legislation designed to bring about meaningful constitutional reform in the United Kingdom instead of simply writing articles about it.

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Rachel Collinson - 2016 Council Manifesto

Rachel Collinson - 2016 Council Manifesto

Hello. Nice to meet you. (Well, sort of.)

I am a newcomer to Unlock Democracy, but wait… bear with me a second. I am certainly not
a newcomer to creating political change. 

I work as a fundraising and campaigning consultant, helping charities (from tiny organisations like Arts Emergency to massive operations like Oxfam) get the global changes they want to see.

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