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Unlock Democracy Council Meeting

6 Cynthia Street, London N1 9JF
11
th
July 29
M!NU"#S
$re%ent& Rosemary Bechler, Finola Kelly, Peter Davidson, Alan Debenham, Stuart Hill (Chair),
Andre Pearmain, !ic" Pitt, !ar" #alladares$
!n attendance& Peter Facey (Director), Ale% Runsic" (De&uty Director)
1' ()ologie%
'ina Fishman, Peter Hirst, (ohn (ac"son, Kelleen !c)ntyre, *erry !yers, #ic"y Seddon, *im
+illiamson$
2' Minute%
,$- *he .olloin/ minutes ere a/reed as a correct record0
Council !eetin/ minutes o. ,- February ,112$
,$, *he .olloin/ minutes ere &rovided .or in.ormation0
!ana/ement Board minutes o. 3 A&ril ,112$
*' Matter% ari%ing
4$- *here ere none$
+' Director,% -e)ort
Political overview:
3$- Peter Facey (PF) re&orted on the !Ps e%&enses scandal, its5 rami.ications and 6nloc"
Democracy5s subse7uent cam&ai/nin/$ Constitutional re.orm is no very much bac" on
the a/enda and everyone is no a re.ormer but there are very di..erent models o.
re.orm, ran/in/ .rom removin/ the S&ea"er and re.ormin/ the e%&enses system to
.undamental re.orm o. the &olitical system$ He also s&o"e about the culture ithin
Parliament that led to the e%&enses scandal8 that !Ps set the alloances and then sta..
hel&ed them to ma"e claims$
3$, PF in.ormed Council that as a result o. the scandal the Constitutional Reneal Bill ill
be brou/ht bac", it is li"ely that more details on House o. 9ords re.orm ill be &ublished
and there may be discussions about electoral re.orm$
3$4 He commented that the ris" ith these scandals is that they become a conversation
beteen :ournalists and &oliticians$ *his is hy 6nloc" Democracy launched the
Citi;ens Convention Bill cam&ai/n$ AP added that the &ublic dis/ust evident durin/ the
e%&enses scandal is actually a sym&tom o. a .ar ider disillusionment ith &olitics and
&oliticians$
3$3 RB commented that it as im&ortant that e remain .ocussed on hat needs to chan/e
and not /et sidelined into returnin/ to business as usual because the media s&otli/ht
has moved on .rom the e%&enses scandal$
3$< FK s&o"e o. the class an/le to the scandal and the ay it is bein/ discussed in &ublic$
She also dre Council5s attention to David Cameron5s comments on 7uan/os and the
.act that he criticised =FC=! :ust as they be/an to challen/e Ru&ert !urdoch5s
dominance in media onershi&$
Campaigns update:
3$> PF re.erred Council to the current .inancial situation and the im&act this has had on
6D5s cam&ai/nin/ ca&acity$ He added that Citi;ens Convention Bill cam&ai/n is /ainin/
momentum but there are very limited resources .or it$
3$? AD raised the issue o. recall$ PF s&o"e about the cam&ai/n that 4@ de/rees had run on
this and reminded Council that this ould be discussed at the ne%t Council meetin/$
3$@ PF in.ormed Council o. the launch o. the #ote .or a Chan/e cam&ai/n .or a re.erendum
on electoral re.orm to be held on the same day as the /eneral election$ #ote .or a
Chan/e is a coalition o. or/anisations includin/ 6D, Pro/ress and Com&ass and is
.unded by the Alectoral Re.orm Society$ *he Political Parties and Alections Act re7uires
a -4 ee" education cam&ai/n in advance o. any re.erendum, hich means that the
cam&ai/n has a very small indo o. o&&ortunity$ *he le/islation ould need to be
included in the Bueen5s S&eech in 'ovember hich is &ossible but it needs &olitical ill$
)t is essential that even i. this deadline is missed that the cam&ai/n doesn5t disa&&ear$
3$2 RB added that there had been discussions on the internet about this :ust bein/ a
cam&ai/n to save the 9abour Party and more /enerally about "ee&in/ the le.t in &oer$
). the cam&ai/n is to succeed it has to be broader than this and to be based on .airness$
PF a/reed sayin/ that the cam&ai/n messa/e needed to be about /ivin/ &eo&le a say
not ma"in/ the case .or electoral re.orm at this sta/e$
New organisations:
3$-1 PF in.ormed Council o. the launch o. the =&en Politics 'etor" C Real Chan/e
cam&ai/n and that he had attended a meetin/ o. their steerin/ /rou& as an observer$
RB then outlined the develo&ment o. this ne initiative and s&o"e o. her desire .or 6D
to be actively involved in it$ *he &lan is to or/anise -111meetin/s by the autumn$ )t5s an
ambitious &lan but &eo&le are callin/ .or it$ Aach Dmeetin/5 hich could be a boo" club,
dinner &arty or chat over co..ee as"s .ive 7uestions about /overnance and &artici&ation$
'e social media ill also &lay a "ey role in the cam&ai/n$
3$-- PF commented that 6D could easily s&end sta.. time and activists resources .ive times
over and so needs to be clear and .ocused about ho the or/anisation is usin/ its
resources$ )t is essential that e create activity on the /round and &articularly outside
+estminster$
)t as a/reed that 6D should retain observer status ithin Real Chan/e but
ould encoura/e local /rou&s to &artici&ate$
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Make Votes Count:
3$-, PF /ave Council a brie. history o. the !a"e #otes Count coalition and ho the
cam&ai/n has develo&ed$ He indicated that since the decision had been ta"en to
create the #ote .or a Chan/e cam&ai/n rather than use the e%istin/ !#C coalition to
run the re.erendum cam&ai/n, there had been moves to close don !a"e #otes Count$
6D sto&&ed .undin/ !#C at the be/innin/ o. this .inancial year, our contribution had
only ever been small (E-,11 &a) but this has meant that the coalition is no solely
.unded by the Alectoral Re.orm Society ho has also indicated their intention to sto&
.undin/ !#C$ *he decision ill ultimately be ta"en by the !#C !ana/ement Board but
the .eelin/ seems to be that !#C has sto&&ed bein/ a coalition o. or/anisations and
has become a rival cam&ai/nin/ or/anisation$
.' /udget U)date
<$-PF re&orted on the chan/es that had been made since the bud/et had been a/reed by
Council in February and the im&act o. recent /rant a&&lication decisions$ )n &articular
Council should be aare that the Purity o. Alections &ro:ect ill not be .unded beyond
December ,112$ (RR* are very ha&&y ith the cam&ai/n that e have run on this but
.eel that it is no movin/ toards voter education and that is not here their interest
lies$ PF added that the im&act o. this and other (RR* decision is that the de.icit may
increase$
*he amended Bud/et as a&&roved$
6' (0M motion%
>$- *he &olicy motions a&&roved at the ,11@ AF! ere discussed and AR s&o"e about
ho 6D had res&onded to the motions and here &ossible incor&orated them into its5
cam&ai/ns and &olicy or"$ S&eci.ically the motion on electoral re.orm had been
addressed throu/h an em&hasis in the S&rin/ ,11@ members ma/a;ine on electoral
re.orm and active &artici&ation ithin the #ote .or a Chan/e cam&ai/n$ *he motion on
social and economic ri/hts had in.luenced 6D5s &olicy or" on a Bill o. Ri/hts and
&articularly in relation to 6D5s interaction ith the (oint Committee on Human Ri/hts
and their or" on a Bill o. Ri/hts .or the 6K$
)t as a/reed that a res&onse .rom Council to the AF! should be dra.ted
re.lectin/ 6D5s involvement in #ote .or a Chan/e and or" on a Bill o. Ri/hts$
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1' Local 0rou)% (greement
?$- AR outlined the issues that been raised durin/ the consultation ith local /rou&s and
ho sta.. and the !ana/ement Board had res&onded to these concerns$ *his dra.t as
no returnin/ to Council .or a&&roval$
?$, She added that Robin Anderson, the Chair o. Bath /rou& had as"ed Council to
reconsider some o. these concerns hich he did not .eel had been ade7uately
addressed in the consultation &rocess$ )n &articular he as"ed Council to a/ree to amend
the a/reement so that local /rou&s can char/e a subscri&tion to local members and to
remove clause ?$- hich states G*hat only members o. 6nloc" Democracy are eli/ible
to be .ull members o. the local /rou&, hold o..ice locally and have .ull votin/ ri/hts at all
/eneral meetin/sH
?$4 AR re&orted to Council on hy sta.. and !ana/ement Board had re:ected these
re7uests hen they ere raised durin/ the consultation$ *he Constitution that had been
&assed at mer/er in ,11? /ave any member o. 6nloc" Democracy the ri/ht to :oin a
local /rou& and made no mention o. havin/ to &ay an additional .ee$ )ndeed the local
/rou& rebate had been set u& s&eci.ically to ensure that local /rou&s did not need to
char/e an additional .ee$ *he o..ice remains ha&&y to or" ith any local /rou& to
.undraise locally and it is o. course still &ossible .or local /rou&s to as" .or donations
.rom local /rou& members and su&&orters but this must not be seen as a re7uirement o.
membershi& o. the local /rou&$ She added that it ould o. course be &ossible to
chan/e the Constitution and allo local /rou&s to char/e .or local membershi& but this
ould have to be done at the AF!$
?$3 AR then outlined the thin"in/ behind clause ?$- and dre Council5s attention to hat
had been intended by re.errin/ to .ull votin/ ri/hts$ S&eci.ically there are some
decisions that local /rou&s ta"e such as &olicy and constitutional motions that /o to the
AF!, and some roles ithin the /rou&, includin/ bein/ the Chair, that im&act on the
national or/anisation$ Sta.. and !ana/ement Board both reco/nise the contribution that
local su&&orters can ma"e to a /rou& and certainly do not ant to turn activists aay
but it is hi/hly unusual .or a membershi& or/anisation to allo nonImembers to
in.luence the &olicy o. the or/anisation or to chan/e the constitution$ *his as hy the
term5 .ull votin/ ri/hts5 as used$ Su&&orters, under this clause, ould still be able to
vote on all local /rou& activities that :ust a..ect their area but ould not be able to vote
on those issues that a..ect the national or/anisation$ A7ually, 9ocal Frou& Chairs
automatically become members o. the Re/ional SubICommittees o. Council and
there.ore have access to data 6nloc" Democracy holds about members and su&&orters
in their area$ *here.ore it as .elt that anyone elected to this o..ice should be a member
o. the national or/anisation$
)t as a/reed that the ordin/ o. clause ?$- o. the 9ocal Frou&s A/reement
should be amended to better re.lect this reasonin/ and that this ould then be
a&&roved by eImail$
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)t as .urther a/reed that 9ocal Frou&s A/reement should re.lect that constitution
as currently dra.ted does not allo local /rou&s to char/e membershi& .ees but
that it should be made clear that local /rou&s are .ree to as" .or donations$
2' #3tremi%t $artie% )olicy
@$- AR in.ormed Council o. the hustin/s meetin/ held in Bath in the run u& to the Auro&ean
elections and o. the !ana/ement Board5s decision that 6D needed a &olicy on
en/a/ement ith e%tremist &arties and that this should be based on the values o. 6D$
She added that the &olicy had been redra.ted since !ana/ement Board had last seen it
to better re.lect the di..erent ty&es or or" that 6D underta"es$
8.2 *here as a ide ran/in/ discussion about hether it is &ossible to create a sa.e s&ace
in hich to debate ith e%tremist &arties$ +hile there as /eneral a/reement that it
ould not be a&&ro&riate, /iven 6D5s commitment to &romotin/ debate and &luralist
democracy, to im&lement a Dno &lat.orm5 &olicy it as acce&ted that unless a sa.e s&ace
could be created, it as ina&&ro&riate to hold &ublic meetin/s ith e%tremist &arties$
*he issue o. hether it as &ossible to hold a hustin/s meetin/ in Bar"in/ and
Da/enham here the B'P are the o..icial o&&osition on the Council as discussed$
)t as a/reed that the cam&ai/ns section o. the &olicy should be amended so
that D&artici&ation5 is chan/ed to Dmembershi&5$ *he e%tremist &arties &olicy as
then a/reed but Council then decided that it ould only remain in .orce until the
AF! a.ter the ne%t /eneral election at hich &oint a &a&er on en/a/ement ith
e%tremist &arties hich e%&lore &ossible ays in hich this could be done sa.ely
should be &resented to the AF!$
9' Co4o)erati5e /ank motion
2$- AR re&orted that 6D as in the &rocess o. chan/in/ the name o. its CoIo&erative Ban"
account .rom Charter @@ to 6nloc" Democracy to re.lect the decision ta"en at the AF!
in ,11?$
*he chan/e o. account name .rom Charter @@ to 6nloc" Democracy as
a&&roved$
1' $ri%oner% 6oting -ight%
-1$- AR and PF both s&o"e to the &a&er that had been circulated and outlined the conte%t .or
the discussion$
-1$, *here as a ide ran/in/ debate about social e%clusion, &olitical &artici&ation and the
criminal :ustice system$ *he issue o. hether removal o. the .ranchise as either
&ro&ortionate or e..ective as a &unishment ere discussed$ Aach o. the o&tions ere
debated be.ore a vote as ta"en on o&tion one, that 6nloc" Democracy should call .or
the com&lete en.ranchisement o. all &risoners$
*here ere < votes in .avour, , votes a/ainst and - abstention$ *he motion as
there.ore carried$
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-1$4 *here as .urther discussion about e%em&tions .or electoral o..ences$ *here as
/eneral su&&ort .or &eo&le convicted o. electoral o..ences bein/ denied the ri/ht to vote
as this as &ro&ortionate to the crime committed$
-1$3 PF also su//ested that as the Fovernment is unli"ely to move to .ull en.ranchisement o.
&risoners at this sta/e it may be advisable to also &ro&ose an interim model o. re.orm$
)t as a/reed that as an interim solution 6nloc" Democracy should &ro&ose that
&risoners servin/ a sentence o. less than .ive years should not lose the ri/ht to
vote and that &risoners servin/ lon/er sentences should re/ain the ri/ht to vote
in the last .ive years o. their minimum tari..$ Hoever it as em&hasised that
6nloc" Democracy believed in .ull en.ranchisement o. all &risoners$
11' Unelected Mini%ter%
--$- AR s&o"e to the &a&er on the Public Administration Select Committee in7uiry on
unelected ministers$ She e%&lained that hile 6D had lon/ standin/ &olicy that
ministers should not be a&&ointed to the House o. 9ords, the or/anisation does not yet
have a vie on the &rinci&le o. hether /overnment should be able to a&&oint unelected
ministers$ )n &articular she as"ed .or vies on ho unelected ministers could be held to
account$
--$, *here as a debate about ho to stren/then Parliament more /enerally and also the
need to clari.y the distinction beteen the e%ecutive (ministers) and la ma"ers (!Ps
and Peers$)
--$4 *here as /eneral su&&ort .or the &rinci&le that it should be &ossible to a&&oint e%&erts
to the /overnment$ Discussion .ocussed on the need .or select committees to hold
&ublic con.irmation hearin/s alon/ similar lines to those that ta"e &lace in the 6SA$
"he date o7 the ne3t meeting i% Saturday 12
th
Se)tem8er 29'
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