Five minutes in parliament – April 2014


Parliament returns from Easter recess today. If you add up the total number of days parliament is in session, it sits for less than half the year.

While there are no debates, MPs are quick to point out that it is not a holiday, but time to connect with their constituencies. As such, it can be a good time to meet your local MP or to arrange a visit. Recess dates are listed on parliament’s website and tend to mirror school holidays.

Welfare cap

Before parliament rose, MPs debated the government’s proposed cap on welfare expenditure. 520 MPs backed the cap of £119.5bn annually managed welfare expenditure; just 22 MPs did not. You can read more about the welfare cap on NCVO’s website.

UK Civil Society Almanac

NCVO’s UK Civil Society Almanac is the definitive source of data on the sector. As well as giving a national picture, we’re able to break down the data by constituency. We use this data to equip MPs with information on the size of the voluntary sector and how many people are employed in their local area. When they are speaking in debates on issues impacting on the voluntary sector, this means they can draw upon the evidence of what is happening both nationally and locally.

Civil Society APPG

The most recent session of the Civil Society APPG looked at the challenges and changes facing the sector. Attendees heard from Shadow Civil Society Minister Lisa Nandy, the British Heart Foundation’s Simon Gillespie, Judy Robinson from Involve Yorkshire and Humberside, and the Fabian Society’s Andrew Harrop. A summary of discussions can be found on our website.

European elections

With the European elections on 22 May, the parties are in full campaigning mode. Polling shows Labour and UKIP vying for first position, trailed by the Conservatives third, and Liberal Democrats fourth.

The impact the European elections will have on the UK election campaign is interesting. The Conservative Party seem to have managed backbench expectations, but a strong showing by UKIP is still likely to rock the boat. A ministerial reshuffle is still expected to follow.

The televised debates between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg have also raised questions about the use of TV debates in the General Election next year. That a party with 60 MPs and another with none at all should be given a prime TV slot would have been unthinkable not so long ago. The Conservatives and Labour have the most to lose from election debates and will already have been reluctant after the prominence the 2010 debates gave Clegg.

Recommended reading

  • The 2014 UK Civil Society Almanac. We might have mentioned this once or twice in the last few weeks, but it really is rather good.
  • Less than three months after leaving, Iain Dale has returned to his weekly ConservativeHome column. A good source of political news generally, his piece on the forthcoming government reshuffle comes highly recommended.
  • The Electoral Calculus Polling Chart of Everything for the Independent, based on voting intention polling from ComRes. It plots the election results since 1983 and demonstrates how the percentage support translates into majorities or hung parliaments. It then overlays the voting intention poll results since 2010. In 2012, polling results were close to Blair’s win in 2001, polling has shifted much closer to the tighter 2005 victory, which is the source of Miliband’s much talked about ‘35% strategy’.

And finally…

It just remains to wish you all a very happy Ed Balls Day. For those of you not familiar with this national holiday and internet phenomenon, three years ago today the Shadow Chancellor tweeted his own name by accident. The original tweet has now been retweeted over 26,000 times. National newspapers, serious political commentators, MPs and even the deputy prime minister have all joined in the fun.

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Charlotte was our senior external relations officer and public affairs consultant. She has left NCVO

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