This parliament will bring new challenges for democratic reform campaigners. Between now and 2020, our strategy will be much less determined by big opportunities for reform like the AV referendum and the 2012 Lords Reform Bill. The Conservative government is hostile to many of our aims, but we know that the public at large is not.
We are committed to working with parties across the political spectrum to campaign for reform. We will not simply wait and hope for a more favourable government in 2020. Here we look at how we can move forward and make the case for democratic reform in this political environment. This strategy is the result of teamwork between Unlock Democracy’s Council, staff and members.
Unlock Democracy’s strategy for the next five years is to build the political will to change our democracy and to strengthen our organisation so we can campaign more effectively today and in the future.
With your help we will be running two campaigns. Follow the Money will tackle the corrosive effect of big money in politics. We the People will link everyday problems to our tattered, tired constitution and involve ordinary people, civic society and allied politicians in creating our 2020 manifesto and getting parties to adopt it.
Unlock Democracy will grow stronger by building an active membership, developing digital tools, increasing our campaign resources and tackling democratic reform issues head on in the media.
Over the next five years members should expect more opportunities to campaign with us on national or local issues, using digital a range of methods and more ways to support and engage with our work.
We need to make the case for whole scale political reform. We will run campaigns that are distinctive, involve our members and engage with a broad coalition across Parliament and civil society. They should be evidence based, radical in vision and integrate our campaigning. We want to empower individuals in the decisions that affect them, so how we campaign for change is as important to us as what we campaign for.
Our key campaigns will be Follow the Money, focusing on money in politics, and We the People, focusing on making links between different issues and how they relate to our political system.
Follow the Money
Big money distorts our politics by allowing companies and individuals with the most resources to buy access and influence. We need to demonstrate the impact money has on our politics and offer solutions through lobbying transparency and party funding reform.
The time is right for us to work on money in politics. We were instrumental in the introduction of the Scottish Lobbying Bill and dirty money scandals keep affecting our politics at all levels.
We will start our work with lobbying transparency, including the Scottish Lobbying Bill. We will also run a campaign exploiting our expertise on party funding reform by campaigning for a cap on donations. We will draw on our own policy resources and public support to build our evidence base to change opinion within Parliament.
Our work on money in politics will incorporate a campaign on the revolving door between government, business and lobbying firms. We can demonstrate that our politics is broken beyond repair and offer a radical solution that solves this problem and links to the bigger picture.
We the People
We the People is our campaign to make the case for citizen led, wholesale reform of our political system. It will build on the People’s Charter 2015 that was written with over 900 people as a part of the Unlock Magna Carta project.
Our campaign will focus on government not being accountable to ‘We the People’, whether this is an electoral system that doesn’t reflect the way people actually voted, the unelected House of Lords, or the imposition of new funding arrangements or forms of governance on localities from above without meaningful public engagement.
We the People will be a series of linked digital campaigns and a public debate that will highlight specific weaknesses in our political system, build solutions to those problems and create the political will for change.
We will make the link between day to day problems and the undemocratic nature of our political system. We want people campaigning on the NHS, or fracking, or housing to see how our system denies ordinary people a real say on the issues that matter to them.
Delivering our campaign strategy
We need to strengthen our organisation and grow into a wider movement for reform. We will recruit new members while giving more back to those we already have - engaging them in more campaigns and using digital tools to support their campaigns on local, regional and national issues.
We will put people led campaigning at the heart of our strategy and run engaging campaigns that will mobilise people and reach a wide audience using digital campaigning.
We will also increase our media presence by running distinctive campaigns that attract coverage and by preparing for the inevitable political scandals.
Over the coming years we look forward to delivering this plan. With your support, we will reduce the corrosive effect of big money in politics with Follow the Money and We the People will build the political will to bring meaningful, positive constitutional change in the 2020's.
Our plan will mean a bigger, more vibrant, more capable Unlock Democracy that will campaign with growing strength every year.
But it will only work with your support and your activism. We need you to back our campaigns. We need you to take action with us. We need you to tell us how a lack of democracy stops you having a voice on the issues you care about.
Our politics is broken and people suffer because of it. We can prove the link between day to day problems that people have in their lives and our rotten political system. We can go further. We can show people how we can make our democracy better so that citizens are the masters, not the servants of our political system.