After a 13 month long investigation into election campaign expenses the Electoral Commission today handed down the highest fine in its history of £70,000 to the Conservative Party, for violation of electoral law. Unlock Democracy has called for the Electoral Commission to be empowered so it can stop parties from buying elections.Read More
Unlock Democracy reacts to the news that the registrar of consultant lobbyists, Alison White, has launched an investigation into the use of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) to bypass lobbying rules.Read More
Today, the Lobbying (Transparency) Bill had its Committee Stage hearing in the House of Lords. The UK is now one step closer to having a robust lobbying register introduced, after the bill was moved to Report stage.Read More
Welcoming the divisional court’s judgement, Director of Unlock Democracy Alexandra Runswick said:
“The government’s position that it could run roughshod over parliamentary sovereignty by invoking the dictatorial powers of Henry VIII always was untenable in the 21st century. The correct course of action now would be for Theresa May to accept this judgement and move on to holding a full and open debate in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity.
“We acknowledge that there is a disparity between the views of MPs and the public, but without a proportional voting system, the only course of action is to trust MPs to take the views of their constituents into consideration when deciding how to vote. No doubt MPs are acutely aware that they are ultimately accountable to their constituents, who will be given the final say.
“What is clearly unacceptable is for the Brexit process to continue as it has been over the past few months with virtually no parliamentary or public scrutiny. The government needs to open up, both in terms of their own preparations and which special interests have been lobbying them on this issue behind closed doors.”
Unlock Democracy has been organising a petition demanding that government gives parliament a say in the Brexit negotiations. So far, over 9,000 people have signed it.
A new law which would replace the lobbying register introduced in 2014 will be debated in the House of Lords this Friday (9 September 2016). The Private Members Bill, to be introduced by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, would provide greater transparency over professional organisations seeking to influence UK politicians.Read More
Commenting on the EU referendum result, Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said:
“The referendum campaign showed British politics at its worst. Both campaigns have relied on misinformation to paint increasingly apocalyptic images of a post-referendum Britain. Politicians on both sides must now work together to rebuild public trust in our political system.Read More
Unlock Democracy are campaigning to ensure that the police investigations address the scenario of whether there have been systematic efforts to breach election spending limits. Here is our statement following the hand in of petitionRead More
This morning, the government have introduced amendments to the Trade Union Bill which would delay changes to trade union political funds. These changes would give party leaders the opportunity to renew cross-party talks to clean up political party funding.Read More
Unlock Democracy welcomes the report published today by a cross-party committee of Lords recommending that changes which will affect trade union donations to Labour should be delayed pending cross-party talks on party funding.Read More
The Trade Union Bill’s one-sided changes to party funding are finally getting some of the scrutiny they need. On Wednesday, the House of Lords struck a small blow by voting to set up a cross-party Select Committee to consider the Bill’s impact and what other reforms are needed to clean up party funding in the UK.Read More
The changes made to party funding in the Trade Union Bill will make elections less competitive. This Bill will slash union donations to Labour while wealthy donors are free to plough cash into Conservative party coffers.Read More
While cautiously welcoming the Liverpool City Region Devolution Agreement, Unlock Democracy Merseyside & West Cheshire agreed that the current arrangement should only be a precursor to a stronger devolution package provided that it moves towards more open and accountable strategic political leadership. It was a promising start but with regard to scrutiny there was still a long way to go. We strongly regret that there has been no public consultation nor consideration of alternative governance arrangements.Read More
Today the government published Lord Strathclyde’s review of the powers of the House of Lords, which recommends that the Lords’ power to reject secondary legislation be replaced with the power to send back secondary legislation once to the Commons for a vote, after which it would be passed automatically. This would significantly weaken the powers of the House of Lords in relation to secondary legislation, which typically receives little or no scrutiny in the House of Commons.Read More
Spinwatch, Unlock Democracy and Electoral Reform Society Scotland will launch Holyrood Exposed, a new guide to lobbying in Scotland, at the SNP conference in Aberdeen this Thursday. Holyrood Exposed profiles the top lobbyists influencing the Scottish government and shines the spotlight on the tactics they use to get their way.Read More
Using calculations based on research by economists at Oxford University, Unlock Democracy have estimated that big party donors are more than 200 times more likely to get a peerage than ordinary party members - and over 20,000 times more likely than your average voter.Read More
Analysis of the new register of MPs’ financial interests by Unlock Democracy reveals that 1 in 5 new MPs already has a second job: 34 out of the 182 new MPs reported second jobs, while 80 of the 468 returning MPs reported second jobs. The total number of MPs with second jobs has increased slightly since the election, with 114 MPs reporting second jobs, up from 108 according to a BBC analysis conducted in February 2015. Of the 114 MPs who have second jobs, 84 are Conservative, 18 Labour, 11 SNP and one DUP.Read More