What Does A General Election Mean for the Charity Sector?
Spoiler alert: it means a lot.
So, there we have it — the election many of us suspected was bubbling up will finally come to pass on December 12th 2019 (baring no surprises from the House of Lords).
This General Election means a lot of things to our country, to our exhaustion and optimism levels, and our potential pathway out of Brexit — but what specifically does it mean for the charity sector?
It means that we must build new influential relationships.
Whatever the political makeup of the December onwards Parliament, we can be certain that we will lose some of the key people and all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) that we’ve worked so hard to levy relationships of influence with — both on local and national levels.
Any new Government creates a departmental reshuffle of Secretaries of State, Ministers, and their personal staff, alongside what feels like droves of long-standing MPs choosing to stand down this election in addition to the natural transfer of party MP and accompanying staff locally. Then on top of all of that, all the APPGs must then be reformed, satisfying the tighter rules brought in in 2015, rather than existing per topic as a given.
However I think that we will likely see high numbers of unexpected people elected as MPs as we did for the European Parliament elections, people without existing ties to lobbying groups, networks and causes, so effectively come December 2019 when the time comes to build fresh relationships we might not be playing on such a field stacked against us as usual.
It means that our people are scared.
The actual machine of politics isn’t a huge interest for most people. For most people news of a fresh election either a) completely passes them by just as England getting into the Rugby World Cup final usually passes me by, b)is met with a urgh as they prepare to have their doors knocked to pieces by canvassers, or c) triggers fear.
Many of the people who perhaps make up our service users, our volunteers, our members and our staff will fall under c. It’s just been 24 hours since the announcement and already we’re hearing people worried what implications this could have for minority rights, for the health and social services, for their benefits and for securing settled status. Our job as their clients and team members is to stand in solidarity and to quash false fears over the next 6 weeks.
It means a whole load of confusion about what we can and can’t say.
Ah, the Lobbying Act. I remain convinced that it itself is relatively permissive but was deliberately created to bring a swirl of confusion to the sector about what we could and couldn’t say, thus withdrawing from public to be on the safe side, far more than we actually needed to.
Details for this 2019 election are still awaiting any technical changes from the electoral commission but for clarity I think that this guidance from Bond, this thread from NCVO’s Policy Manager and this fear alleviator from Directory or Social Change are all really helpful reads.
TL;DL you can show moral leadership so long as you don’t endorse a particular candidate or party.
Did I miss anything? Drop a comment below or hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org