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Democracy Matters Update Nov 2014 – Vol. 5.8

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This updates includes several opportunities for political education, including Parliament Week, proposals for voter engagement, our Declaration for Democracy, Magna Carta workshops, NHS Citizen, SMK campaign training workshops and more: do pass these on to anyone who can make use of them – and try some of the actions yourself.

This is Parliament Week (14-20 Nov), which aims to connect people with Parliament and show how to use it: join the #DoDemocracy! Thunderclap and find events near you.

Do you think our democracy system works?

If not, what should be done about it? The Constitutional Reform Committee is a good place to test the system and do something about it. The Committee wants to strengthen our democracy and you can help by taking part in its work. The more people who respond, the stronger it will speak out.

You can take part through three initiatives:

1.  Read its proposals on voter engagement to:

  • Extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds
  • Enable voting online
  • Make voting legally compulsory
  • Include a “None of the Above” option on the ballot paper
  • Make registering to vote a legal duty
  • Be able to register to vote up to and including election day
  • Allow areas to become fully postal voting areas

Over 7.5m people are not even registered to vote and almost 16 million did not vote in the last general election.

It notes that the BBC and Electoral Commission have duties relating to education about elections and the democratic system which they are not fulfilling.

Do you agree with any of these points? Democracy Matters is doing short survey for the Committee: six question take less than five minutes – please do it here, then encourage your contacts to take part.

To make a more detailed response, please send a written submission to the Committee by 9th January 2015 at the latest here.

Tweet about the inquiry: #voterengagement

2.  Do we need a new Magna Carta? Read the case for and against, plus three options for the UK’s constitution here. The full report and research are at: www.parliament.uk/pcrc-constitution. The consultation closes on 1 January 2015, so please encourage people to discuss and respond.

3.  The Committee also has a competition for a 350 word preamble for a written constitution with three categories: for the general public, under 18s  and journalists.

The Committee chair is Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North, and you can find other members here: the more we can support them, the more they can do to create a stronger democracy.

Declaration for democracy
There has been no further response from the parties to our “Declaration for Democracy” as they are focused on the election in May.
How can we make democracy itself an issue at the election?

Like, Share, Vote
Demos and Bite the Ballot have launched a crowd-funding campaign to build a Voter Advice Application for young people to drive up the youth vote, based on successful projects across Europe: read more here.

Unlock the Magna Carta
Unlock Magna Carta will be launched with the Constitutional Reform Committee in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons at 6.30pm on Tuesday 21 November: for details and to book go here.

Frances Foley is organising local events about the Magna Carta and what we need to protect our rights and freedoms in future, with Unlock Democracyand other members of Democracy Matters: email her if you’d like to host or help with local events – exhibitions, lectures, study circles and theatre performances – about Magna Carta, its history and its political relevance today. This will lead up to a national event in June next year.
See the Magna Carta Trust for other activities: sign up for their newsletter here.

Campaigning workshops
The SMK Campaigners’ residential is an intensive weekend from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 November for campaigners looking to expand their campaigning skills, receive individual advice on their strategy, and test their ideas with other campaigners working on thematic areas. The training weekend will help you build a realistic campaign strategy and plan for action. To apply, please download an Application Form and return it to miriam.nicholson@smk.org.uk.

The next ‘Introduction to Campaigning’ workshop run by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation are:

·        in London on Wednesday 10th December, facilitated by Harmit Kambo.

·        In Leeds on Thursday 29th January 2015, Time: 10.45am – 6.00pm at Age UK Leeds, Bradbury Building, Mark Lane Leeds LS2

Participants will be involved at a basic level or just about to get started. To find out more visit www.smk.org.uk/campaign-workshops.To book your place please fill in a registration form and send it to christina.arokium@smk.org.uk

Citizen participation in the NHS
NHS England has a new Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, effectively Prime Minister and Managing Director for health: see details about him and the NHS Board. Their Five Year Vision sets out the choices facing the country, and the action needed on demand, efficiency and funding to close the £30bn funding gap by 2020.

This is a vital topic for political education which affects everyone.

The next NHS England “Design Days” on participation and accountability are on 29 and 30 January 2015 in London. For more information see NHS Citizen System. You can watch past events here or join the conversation on Twitter at @NHSCitizen.  If you have any questions please email NHS Citizen

Spread the word

Democracy Matters is a voluntary initiative to promote learning for democracy.
Do pass this information to your networks through your website and social media.

Best wishes,

Titus Alexander
Convener,
Democracy Matters
Mobile: 07720394740
titus@democracymatters.info
www.democracymatters.org.uk

Democracy Matters is an informal alliance for learning practical politics
Download Campaigning is OK! free report.

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