The inside track: May 2018

Here’s our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities. This month we look at the continuing progress of the withdrawal bill, another (limited) reshuffle, and news of a couple of by-elections.

Parliament

The European Union (withdrawal) bill has continued to cause headaches for the government, who have now suffered 14 defeats on the bill in the House of Lords on amendments as diverse as the date of Brexit being removed from the bill, future EEA membership and increased scrutiny of secondary legislation.

These amendments will now go back to the House of Commons once peers have voted on the bill’s third reading. The government may choose to make concessions on some of the more technical aspects of the bill, but in particular anticipated backbench rebellions on issues such as future UK membership of the customs union could produce close votes when the bill returns to the Commons.

Citizenship and civic engagement committee

The Lords citizenship and civic engagement committee, chaired by Lord Hodgson, has published its report. Its recommendations include the designation of one government department for citizenship policy and better integrating NCS with a wider civic engagement policy.

NCVO welcomed the report’s acknowledgement of the role civil society can play, and also recommendations that would make it easier for people to volunteer, particularly ensuring Job Centre staff are able to give accurate advice about volunteering to jobseekers.

People news

Amber Rudd’s resignation as home secretary, after misleading parliament over removal targets (and whether she knew about them) has meant the Prime Minister has carried out a limited reshuffle.

Housing, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid, now being tipped by some as a possible successor to the Prime Minister, has moved to the Home Office. His replacement at MHCLG is James Brokenshire, who returns to government after stepping down for health reasons in January.

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt has taken on the women and equalities brief in addition to her existing role.

By-elections

This month has been one in one out as far as MPs are concerned. Órfhlaith Begley has been elected MP for West Tyrone, which has been vacant since former MP Barry McElduff resigned in January. Like all Sinn Fein MPs, however, she will not take her seat in the House of Commons.

Leaving the Commons is Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander, who has resigned to take up a post with London mayor Sadiq Khan as deputy mayor for transport. Labour are expected to hold what is normally a safe seat, so most attention is likely to be on who is selected as the Labour candidate and which wing of the party they are associated with.

What do the local elections tell us about UK politics?

We’ve had a volatile few years in UK politics, but this set of elections have broadly reflected trends from last year’s general election, with Labour advancing in more urban areas, particularly London, while the Conservatives held on and in some places advanced in towns, particularly in areas that voted Leave in the referendum.

With the next election up to four years away, there’s probably not much that charity campaigners can really take away for their influencing strategies, though Conservative MPs in London may feel more of a need to distance themselves from the government, particularly over Brexit, while Labour’s internal divisions have emerged again.

Above all local elections provide opportunities to engage with new councillors and in some cases new administrations, so if there have been elections in your area, or you work with a number of local authorities, do take time to build those new relationships. And if you’re new to campaigning, we previously put together some tips on local influencing.

Join us at our annual Campaigning Conference

We have opened bookings for our annual Campaigning Conference, which this year takes place on 10 September. Whether you’re in a campaigns, policy, or public affairs role at a charity, we have workshops and debates to support and inspire you. We will highlight the latest developments in campaigning, provide practical examples of what has worked and give advice on how to effect real change through your campaigns.

NCVO can help you to navigate Westminster and Whitehall

Make sure your voice is heard by those making the decisions. We can provide a range of advice, support and training, contact chris.walker@ncvo.org.uk for details.

If you want to learn more about how you can use parliament to secure change, our next Influencing Parliament course is on 28 September.

If you want to take your campaigning to the next level, applications have opened for Series 19 of NCVO’s Certificate in Campaigning, starting in October. We are also running our next Leadership in Campaigns course on 14 and 15 June.

Feedback

Please do get in touch with me at chris.walker@ncvo.org.uk if there’s anything you’d like to see included, or you have any other comments.

 

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Chris Walker Chris is a Senior External Relations Officer at NCVO, focusing on parliamentary work. He started his career working for several MPs in Parliament, and has also worked in public affairs and policy roles for the Federation of Small Businesses.

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