It’s been a long year.
Although we’ve repeatedly seen democracy imperiled by an autocratic, mismanaged government and a poorly-handled pandemic, we’ve been fighting back tirelessly for a healthy, functional and inclusive democratic system.
Here are some of the highlights:
– In June 2020, we launched our report Defending Democracy in the Age of Pandemic following a comprehensive consultation in April 2020. The report advocated for intensifying the digitisation of Parliament and the creation of a codified crisis-response protocol that can be rapidly applied. It maintained, however, that solutions related to elections should remain low-tech, as digital election reforms should happen during more stable periods.
– Worked with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Electoral Campaigning Transparency to advance the 20 recommendations in our January 2020 Report, Defending Democracy in the Digital Age. We’ve made strides on recommendations #7, 8, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 20, including Digital Imprints in Scotland, long-term digital education campaigns, and working with Parliamentarians towards a more robust online harms regime. To that end, we’ve replied to Full Fact’s Framework for Information Incidents consultation to advance the critically important aims laid out in our APPG report. Progress is steadily being made on other recommendations as well.
– Fought for an online safety regimen that is fit for purpose. We’ve criticised the government’s draft Online Safety Bill for its contradictory statutes and flimsy regulatory proposals. We’ve also participated in a virtual event in Parliament organised by a number of APPGs, the Football Association, Reset Tech, Compassion in Politics, with guest speakers Thierry Henry and Lucy Bronze to discuss the tremendous impacts of online abuse and the limitations of the draft online safety bill, cementing alliances and relationships to continue the fight for online safety.
– Fought for our electoral integrity across every corner of the UK, strongly opposing proposed Voter ID laws and anti-protest bills that threaten to exclude UK citizens from their right to democratic participation. We’ve worked with not only the Electoral Commission but parties across England, Scotland and Wales to try and crack down on fraudulent campaigning practices and strengthen electoral systems against both digital and pandemic-related challenges.
– Launched the Fair Play Pledge campaign with Jackie Weaver. With thousands of candidates signing the pledge both directly and through their respective political parties, we’ve not only secured commitments to champion democracy from recently elected local officials, but forged lasting relationships which will enable further democracy-strengthening work at the local level in the future.
– Fair Vote UK’s director, Kyle Taylor, published the Little Black of Data & Democracy, a comprehensive overview of social media’s profound impact on democratic health and our own personal lives.
A lot more is in progress – defending democracy is a constant uphill struggle, a victory that is never fully won.
Your support made a real difference for us and this country, and will continue to in the future. We couldn’t have done any of it without you.
We also want to thank the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust for continuously backing our efforts and empowering us to take much needed action against the wide array of challenges encroaching on the health of our democracy.
There is much more to come. Stay tuned.