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Democracy Matters Action Update March 2014

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Last month the misnamed Lobbying Bill (or “Gagging Bill”) became law, despite opposition from a remarkable coalition of over 150 civil society organisations. The Act increases inequality of influence: while newspapers are free to campaign about whatever they want during elections, and in house corporate lobbyists are almost completely exempt from scrutiny, some civil society campaigns will be tangled in red tape. It only affects campaigns that spend over £20,000 campaigning in England from 19 September to 7 May 2015 (£10,000 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), but this will snare many campaigns which try to get candidates to pledge support for any cause. See this Briefing for details and the Electoral Commission update on the lobbying law. On the positive side, the campaign against the Bill created an impressive coalition, headed by the Bishop Harries (former Bishop of Oxford). See my blog on what to do about the Lobbying Act for what next.

Action points for democracy this month:

Magna Carta 800th anniversary

  • Several Democracy Matters members are working on funding bids to run events: please email me for details:
  • Egham Museum are holding a constitutional convention on 25 April with one hundred participants to draft a new Magna Carta for the UK at Runnymede. The Museum wants schools, clubs and young people to submit their own digital conventions so that the new charter can be created. More from
  • The Magna Carta Trust is planning an impressive range of activities: sign up for their newsletter here.
  • The European Parliament runs free events for teachers about the EU. Remaining dates are 28 February (Glasgow), 7 March (Leeds) and 21 March (Liverpool) to prepare for EU elections on 22 May 2014. The London Evening Standard has some useful and provocative pages for teachers on their website:So what has Europe ever done for you?The European debate: Do you know your EU rights?
  • The Speakers Corner Trust debate on the EU is here, providing concise thoughtful arguments for and against EU membership.
  • See report on Democracy & the Corporation discussion with Peter Tatchell, TUC policy officer Janet Williamson, Dave Dewhurst of Occupy London’s Economics Working Group and Professor Collin Crouch, author of ‘Post-Democracy’ organised by Shout Out UK in the House of Commons here.
  • The Data Journalism Handbook is a useful guiding to finding, understanding and using data, available in a free web edition. The graphic summary of the book is so good I’ve included it in full below. It includes a handy Five Minute Guide to Finding Data, essential for campaigners (then read the whole chapter).

FREE resources for learning citizenship and public speaking

Active Citizens FE has produced case studies and resources called ‘Speak out for change’ funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation to widen access to public speaking, available FREE:

  1. Warwickshire College – Public speaking through a learner-led conference
  2. West Thames College – Skills Centre – lobbying, presentations and campaign events
  3. Fareport Training Organisation – debates and local radio broadcast
  4. Newcastle-under-Lyme College –  learner voice & community events
  5. Croydon College – community campaigning events
  6. West Thames College – ESOL – presentations at a student run conference

Engaging ways to learn about the EU

Active Citizens FE run sessions for 11-18 year olds at Europe House in Westminster. The 90 minute programme is interactive, politically neutral and includes introductory and revision material plus a simulation where participants take on the role of an MEP. Sessions are free of charge – book online here. See also, free citizenship resources about the EU.

Flexible facilitators needed

ACFE want facilitators who can create a buzz and make sessions fun, informative and engaging for young people. If you would like to build up your facilitation experience at a generous hourly rate with resources, support and training provided, please email AVFE with your CV, highlighting experience teaching citizenship and related subjects.

Citizenship in the revised National Curriculum

The Association for Citizenship Teaching has produce guidance for teaching citizenship in the revised National Curriculum for 2014: ‘A Big Picture for Outstanding Citizenship‘ powerpoint deck will help in planning citizenship provision in line with the revised National Curriculum which takes effect from September 2014.

Free non-partisan training on how to use the House of Commons and Lords by the Parliamentary Outreach team. Contact: 020 7219 1650

If your organisation is interested in free Parliamentary training, contact: Parliamentary Outreach, Tel: 020 7219 1650 E-mail:

Please say where you are, name of organisation and what you want.

For NCVCO’s Certificate in Campaigning please email the Training team.

Skills and techniques in advocacy and campaigning from an international perspective:

UK corridors of power 17 – 18 March 2014 · 2 day course

If a course you want is not scheduled, contact Bond  to find out more.

Start planning for Parliament Week 2014 now! 

Next Steps offers useful guides to campaigning and campaigning online.

To get information on what’s happening in parliament, sign up here


Please pass on this information to your networks, acknowledging Democracy Matters, and let me know what you’re doing.

Best wishes,

Titus Alexander

Democracy Matters

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