New guidance for non-party campaigners has been published by the Electoral Commission, to promote their understanding of the rules and support them to campaign with confidence all year-round.
Electoral law acts to control the amount of money spent on political campaigning in the lead up to elections and referendums; this is an important part of ensuring fairness, and of enabling transparency for voters, but the rules can be difficult to navigate for organisations which are not used to political campaigning.
Following the last general election – which, as an unscheduled poll, caused additional complexity – non-party campaigners called for greater clarity on how the regulated period and other rules worked, so that they could campaign with confidence throughout the year.
In particular, Campaign Collective created a Freedom To Campaign Guide which, in the face of confusing regulations gave campaigners confidence to know what they could and could not do.
The Campaign Collective Guide has been downloaded and viewed online more than 3,000 times in the 18 months since it was launched.
The Commission has worked closely with charities to produce a new guidance resource, using real-life case studies to provide clear, authoritative advice to campaigners.
Simon Francis, Founder Member of Campaign Collective, commented:
We welcome the Electoral Commission’s recognition that guidance to campaigners needed to be reformed and the new guidance is a major step forward.
Charities still face additional complexities because of the regulations specific to them when it comes to political communications.
Louise Edwards, the Commission’s Director of Regulation, said:
We understand the challenges faced by organisations which don’t regularly engage in political campaigning, and it’s an important part of our role to support them in understanding how they can comply with the law. Campaigning is a vital part of the democratic process and we hope this guidance will enable groups to campaign with confidence all year-round.
The feedback from campaigners has been invaluable in making it as clear and helpful as possible. We thank the third sector organisations and UK charity regulators who worked with us on producing this new resource.
Karl Wilding, Chief Executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), added:
This new guidance provides much greater clarity for charities and should make it clearer that charities can campaign with confidence. Although there are still issues which we believe need changes to the legislation itself, we’re very pleased that the Electoral Commission has taken our feedback on board and done what it can within current electoral law to address many of the concerns charities have expressed about their ability to campaign.
To access the new guidance, visit: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/non-party-campaigners-where-start