Happy new year!
With a re-intensification of the pandemic in the UK and anti-democratic violence in the US it has not been the start we were all hoping for!
Regardless, 2021 is set to provide much for democracy reformers and campaigners to focus on and, yes, be hopeful for.
On the 20th of January we will have Joe Biden’s inauguration to celebrate. With Democrats having flipped the Senate in Georgia’s key runoff elections, Biden will have the numbers in Congress to enact positive change. Even before last week’s violence it looked likely that democratic reform and tech regulation will be on the agenda.
Now it is of the utmost urgency.
If America leads the chances are better that others will follow. UK elections (devolved, mayoral and local) in May will be an opportunity for digital-era reforms to get the public attention they need. Fair Vote UK will be leading a coalition of like-mindedly concerned civil society organisations in promoting a “Fair Play Pledge” for candidates to sign.
Recent suggestions that the elections may be delayed (in the case of England’s local and mayoral elections for a second time!) are shocking considering we’ve had a year to prepare for this. Fair Vote UK published a report in June 2020 that outlined a safe strategy for a COVID-19 era election. From staggered voting days to “pop up” polling booths, other countries have shown that it is possible to hold a safe election in these times.
Regardless of the circumstances, you cannot go on and on suspending democracy.
In 2021 Fair Vote UK will also be leading a coalition of civil society organisations to inspect and scrutinise the development of the Government’s Online Harms Bill. This legislation will be a major attempt to introduce some rules into the dangerously unregulated digital world. It is extremely important that the rules hit the right targets and are genuinely enforceable.
Fair Vote UK will continue to build on the achievements of 2020, holding the powerful accountable and promoting sensible democratic reform in every corner of the UK and beyond.
2021 could be the beginning of the end of the dark days of rampant and dangerous big tech.
Let’s make it happen.