We regularly produce reports, briefings and guides in support of our campaigning work. Browse the latest publications below.
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Wealthy people dominating politics makes us all angry - but if you have cash to splash, there’s plenty of ways people can hide their identity altogether, or get around the need to actually live here before filling the pockets of their favoured party.
In the lead up to the Referendum Unlock Democracy ran a series of deliberative events in association with Talkshop to help people make their mind up about how to vote. In this report we talk about our experience of running the workshops and present our findings. We also consider what we can learn from the recent referendum and how we can hold better referendums.
WE have been brought up in Britain to believe that we are free: that our Parliament is the mother of democracy; that our liberty is the envy of the world; that our system of justice is always fair; that the guardians of our safety, the police and security services, are subject to democratic, legal control; that our civil service is impartial; that our cities and communities maintain a proud identity; that our press is brave and honest.
A briefing for charities and NGOs on Lord Brooke's Lobbying Transparency Private Members Bill in the House of Lords jointly produced by Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch.
We have produced a Guide to Lobbying in Scotland. It takes you on a walking tour of some of Edinburgh's commercial lobbying agencies; corporate in-house lobbying teams; industry bodies, think tanks; law firms; management consultants and charities, all of whom are trying to influence government decisions.
It asks that the Scottish government introduce a decent register of lobbyists.
What does a general election look like from the point of view of the voters? Media attention tends to focus on the content of political parties’ messaging, and research tends to focus on its impact on turnout and voter behaviour. Unlock Democracy set out to examine something altogether different: we wanted to examine the levels of engagement, and how and where voters gained their information, as well as comparing local and national campaigning methods as perceived by voters.
Want to know what is the current situation in the Lords, or why an unelected second chamber is a problem? Our Lords Reform FAQ has all the answers
Parliament first endorsed the principle of an elected second chamber over 100 years ago in the preamble to the 1911 Parliament Act.
Although often well intentioned, turnout thresholds are ill-advised and undemocratic. This briefing examines the issues which arise from using minimum voter turnout requirements with reference to case studies from the UK and Italy.
This statement is a draft document which is designed to inspire debate and inform the organisation’s future priorities and policies.
Unlock Democracy wants to see substantial change to the culture of party funding. Parties should be recognised as providing a beneficial, democratic service to to civil society along with greater focus on local campaigning and decentralisation.
With the current state of party funding, we face a situation where the public are suspicious of politicians and they perceive politics to be full of sleaze and corruption.
This paper makes the case for an English Devolution Enabling Act. The purpose is to make a contribution to the existing debate about how to introduce greater self-governance to England, alongside other valuable interventions already made in this area, including the ‘Illustrative draft Code for central and local government’, issued by the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.
As Parliament prepares to debate the Recall of MPs Bill, Unlock Democracy has published a report recommending that voters be given the power to recall MPs for any reason.
This paper examines how a process of constitution-making should take place in the light of the Scottish Independence Referendum. It sets out the options, gathers evidence from around the world on how those options might work, and weighs the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.
We've looked at the joining forms of Labour-affiliated trade unions, to see how explicitly their affiliation fees and their relationship with Labour is described.
This pamphlet is based on a speech given by the Rt. Hon. Oliver Letwin, at an Unlock Democracy lecture in the Houses of Parliament on 24 November 2009.
Unlock Democracy has published a new pamphlet by Liberal Democrat Party President Ros Scott, charting the decline of local government. In How Healthy is our Local Democracy?, Baroness Scott cites four main areas where local politics has declined in recent years: finance, bureaucracy, media and competitive elections.
This pamphlet is based on a speech given by Francesca Klug at the Convention on Modern Liberty in 2009, in a workshop of this title. Our lecture and pamphlet series are intended to provoke debate on and interest in issues relating to democracy and human rights. As an organisation promoting democratic reform and human rights, we may disagree with what our contributors say - but we are always stimulated by and grateful to them.
This pamphlet is based on a speech given by Charles Clarke at Labour Party Conference in 2008, at an Unlock Democracy lecture. In this pamphlet, Charles Clarke provides an analysis on what democratic reform is needed now. While Unlock Democracy support many of the reforms he suggests, we do not necessarily agree with his stance on the Alternative Vote or the Secondary Mandate.
British citizens' knowledge of the policies and institutions of the European Union is notoriously shaky. Not only does this prevent us from having a meaningful national debate on Europe, it also restricts politicians' ability to make policy based on a genuine engagement with public opinion. This report is intended to begin a serious debate about Britain’s future relationship with Europe
This project was designed to measure the level of contact voters had with political parties and with the state in the run up to the 2007 Scottish elections. From 2 April until 3 May, 251 volunteers in seventy one Scottish constituencies recorded each time they were contacted about the election. This included both direct contact, such as letters, leaflets, canvassing and facetoface campaigning activity; and indirect contact, by which we mean more impersonal forms of advertising, such as Party Political Broadcasts (PPBs), posters and newspaper adverts.
The three main political parties now seem to be agreed upon the urgent need to increase female representation in parliamentary politics. But is local government being overlooked? As well as being an important tier of governance in its own right, local government is also a key training ground for national-level politicians. If the under-representation of women is not tackled here, it seems unlikely that it will be tackled at all.
Despite the intense media scrutiny of national campaigns, very little attention is generally paid to the campaigning material delivered through potential voters’ letterboxes or to the contact they have with parties on the telephone or the doorstep.This project set out to analyse both the quality and quantity of literature delivered by the parties in Great Britain during the General Election campaign.
This pamphlet brings together a collection of work conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd over the summer of 2003 focusing on the health of political parties at a local or constituency level. The work was carried out to make-up part of the JRRT’s contribution to the Electoral Commission’s review of the funding of political parties.
The paper argues that with parties haemorrhaging members and finding themselves forced to campaign with an ever decreasing number of active members, the time has come for parties to reconsider their definition of membership. Parties should consider introducing different, less involved and cheaper, forms of membership. In particular the paper argues that parties should introduce registered supporter schemes to operate alongside membership schemes.