Democracy Challenge

Parties struggling to pay off debt while stepping up campaigning.
Commenting on the publication of the Electoral Commission's register of donations to political parties for the second quarter of 2007, Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey said:

"It is clear that the major parties are struggling to pay of their debts. In 2004, roughly 75% of major donations went to central Labour and Conservative coffers. Over the past 12 months, this proportion has increased to 90%. This centralisation of party politics can only lead to even less activity at a grassroots level".

Citizen Extra (Citizens Convention Bill, July 2007)
Friday, July 20th, 2007

Gordon Brown's review of Britain's constitution could pave the way for meaningful democratic renewal in the UK. We need to make sure it doesn't end up as just another consultation exercise. It's time for a Citizens' Convention to make democracy work for all of us!

A Guide to Involving Citizens in Constitutional Reform
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

This paper examines the ways in which citizens can be involved in constitutional reform and focuses on the use of citizens' assemblies. Rather than explore the issues that a citizens' assembly might consider, the briefing focuses on why citizens should be involved in deliberating constitutional reform and exactly how the citizens' assembly process works.

Here are the keys, Gordon!
Sunday, June 24th, 2007

A new leader presents the Labour Party with an opportunity to revive its radical project of democratic and constitutional reform. Here are a few things Gordon Brown might want to consider.

A Woman's Right to Stand
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Should equal representation be guaranteed?
Kitty Ussher MP and Jo Swinson MP
Edited by Emily Robinson

All three main parties now seem to be agreed that there is an urgent need to increase the representation of women in Parliament. How they set about achieving this depends on the individual ideology and political culture of each party.

Most controversially, Labour has tried to guarantee equality through its use of all-women shortlists. Is this a step too far, or the only way to achieve a gender balanced Parliament? In this pamphlet, two female MPS, Labour's Kitty Ussher and Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson, debate the use of equality guarantees and discuss the merits of their parties' very different approaches to increasing women's representation in Parliament.

Yes, Minister
Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

June 2007 Update on the progress of the Sustainable Communities Bill

A Human Rights Approach to Social Justice
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

This pamphlet asks whether incorporating civil and political rights is enough or whether we should also be looking at social and economic rights. For instance, should we be legally entitled to access healthcare and education, food and clean water, housing and social security?

Party Funding - Supporting the Grassroots
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

The loans for peerages scandal has once again brought the debate about the funding of political parties to the fore. Part of the problem is that parties are caught in a vicious circle: faced with declining numbers of members and particularly activists, they depend upon large donations to fund professionally run election campaigns. This fuels perceptions of sleaze and reduces citizens' commitment to parties still further.

The answer has to be the revival of parties as effective, locally-funded campaigning entities, able to truly represent the communities they come from. This pamphlet brings together our most recent research on the case for state funding to support local political activity, and explores how it might be implemented.

The Church of England and the State - Reforming Establishment for a multi-faith Britain
Monday, February 12th, 2007

Originally published in June 2004. For some, the issue of the relationship between the Church of England and the State is a peripheral one, with little or no connection to the wider political reform agenda. But the search for a new politics - the desire to make political life more relevant to the lives and aspirations of Britain's citizens - cannot afford to ignore the formal institutions of the State: and the Church of England is just such an institution.

Preserving the Link, Promoting Transparency
Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Reforming the way trade unions affiliate to political parties

The cash for peerages scandal has once again brought the funding of political parties to the fore.
While there is a broad consensus that individuals should not be able to make very large donations, should a donation from a membership organisation on behalf of its members be treated in the same way?

Senior politicians debate the survival of parties in unique new pamphlet
Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

As Sir Hayden Phillips prepares to publish his proposals for party funding reform, Unlock Democracy is launching a new pamphlet in which senior political figures from the three main parties debate the future prospects of party politics.