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Democracy Matters Action Update March-April 2015

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On 7th May the country votes. I have written to seven party leaders asking what they will do to promote political understanding and revitalise democracy in the next Parliament (here).

If we have a hung Parliament and a majority of Scottish MPs in favour of independence I think we need a constitutional convention, as discussed in my previous blog. Constitution UK is crowdsourcing a written constitution at which runs until 4th April so check it out now.

A constitutional convention could create the kind of political engagement we saw in Scotland during the election, in which civil society and education played an important role. See item 3 below for more info.

Unlock Democracy launched Vote Match to help people find out which party represents them best: email to get Vote Match for your website.

In more detail:

1. Election activities by Democracy Matters’ members
The WEA is running a ‘Why Vote?’ campaign: find materials here.

The Speakers’ Corner Trust has produced People’s Hustings Briefing Note 2015 on how to plan a debate between candidates.

The Association for Citizenship Teachers is running a collaborative day on 24 April from 10.00-16.30 in London on teaching controversial issues, for History, Citizenship and RE teachers at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4… click here for more information. Download the flyer .

Teaching Citizenship Issue 41 is full of ideas, resources, lesson plans, useful articles and briefings to help you. Click here to download a special extract  For more teaching ideas, become a member of ACT and get your copy.

2.    Resources for democratic engagement & voter registration
Democratic Dashboard has everything you need to know about your local area for the General Election – stats, maps, graphs and info like: Who is your MP? What is their record in Parliament? Who’s running in 2015? How influential your vote could be? What your local area looks like compared to the rest of Britain in terms of deprivation? What happened in the local and EU elections? – very useful tool for education and practical politics.

To find out who is standing you can also go to or read their (and upload leaflets from your area).

The Cabinet Office have FREE resources for democratic engagement activities developed by UK Youth, Scottish Youth Parliament, Gingerbread, Mencap and Hansard with the Homeless Link  suitable for schools, youth councils and voluntary groups. Download from:

Tell them about your engagement activities and they can support it through social media:

#RegisterToVote #RockEnrol @signup2vote.

3. Options for a new UK Constitution published by Parliament
The House of Lords Library produced a useful briefing on a constitutional conventions, more detailed than the shorter note for the House of Commons.

On Thursday the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of the House of Commons launched a valuable little document on the UK Constitution  for debate. You can help people to take part by

4. Unlock the Magna Carta
Democracy Matters members are working on 12 events about the legacy of the Magna Carta and what we need to protect rights and freedoms in future:

  • Manchester Assembly for Democracy even – 18th April
  • Liverpool – 23rd May
  • Lichfield – 28th May
  • Cambridge – 6th June
  • Sheffield – 11th June
  • Bristol – 13/14th June
  • Edinburgh – probably sometime in May
  • London final event – 15th June

The final event in the House of Commons will pull proposals together which could become a ‘people’s magna Carta’.

For more details or to get involved please go here or contact Francis Foley by email or by phone: 020 7278 4443.

Have you done the Unlock Magna Carta quiz yet? 

5. Making sense of Magna Carta for Citizenship Education 5 June
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, will speak at ACT’s event for Citizenship teachers and subject leaders on how to make use of Magna Carta in Citizenship, History and Politics/Social Studies. The day includes workshops on teaching big questions in law, politics, democracy and rights through Magna Carta and FREE entry to British Library’s exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy .

5 June 2015, 9.30-4pm British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London For more details and to book go to ACT events

6. Help Save A-Level Citizenship Studies

ACT and Democratic Life are campaign for continuing A Level Citizenship.

You can help us by signing the petition, encouraging others to do the same and leaving a comment on why you think the A Level needs to continue

7. E-Campaigning Forum Apr 9-10 in Oxford
Join 150 campaigning, fundraising, volunteering and digital innovators for a two-day event to get inspired, learn and network more effectively than any other sector event. The big issues this year are likely to be preparing for after the UK election, integrating fundraising with campaigning and getting online supporters volunteering.  To find out more please click here

8. WEA Day Schools on ‘Politics: what is it good for?’
This day school is a fresh look at political ideas and practices, on what makes politics both fascinating and indispensable, and share ideas on how to engage others in making more of their democratic power in achieving vital social goals. This is a joint initiative between the WEA and the Question the Powerful project, tutored by Dr. Henry Tam, Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, & Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London:

11th April                 Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, CM1 1SQ

25th April                 The Willow Centre, Norwich, NR4 7JJ

For information or to reserve a place, please contact / 01223 417335

9. Introduction to campaigning workshops
The next Sheila McKechnie Foundation ‘Introduction to Campaigning’ workshop is on Tuesday 28th April in Scotland Street, Birmingham, B1.

To find out more visit

10. Lobbying Act update
The Cabinet Office have appointed Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, the Conservative Peer who reviewed the Charities Act in 2011, to find out how well the Lobbying Act has been understood and complied with. It won’t gather evidence to address some of the fundamental unanswered questions such as: ​Is there any evidence of campaign groups having or seeking to have a disproportionate impact on election outcomes?

To provide evidence go to It is also to be found on Twitter at @Review3rdParty. To join a round table discussion and people who want to give feedback or contact the review team email here.

The Labour Party is committed to repealing the Lobbying Act and conducted its own inquiry: responses and questions can be made to

NGOs are supporting an inquiry by the Harries Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement that is looking at these wider questions.

Spread the word 

Do pass this information to your networks, and send me news for next month.

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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