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May 12th, 2010

A very busy election – Thank You

By JohnnyChatterton

Yesterday’s deal between the Lib Dems and Conservatives means we have a new government, a new Prime Minister and a new political landscape. But what should we do next? How do you feel now? Let us know here.

Hundreds of 38 Degrees members have already been in touch sharing feelings about the election outcome. Most of us seem to feel pretty mixed. It’s an outcome which few of us cast our votes expecting or hoping for. Many have bad memories of last time we had a Conservative Prime Minister. But there are also reasons to hope. It’s a coalition government, not a Conservative majority. There’s the prospect of a referendum on some changes to our voting system. There’s a chance that forcing two parties with different perspectives to work together could mean a different kind of politics. With two parties in government, and the arithmetic on key votes in parliament likely to be tight. There will be many opportunities to make our voices heard.

Martin (Sheffield): Keep the pressure on. Monitor & hold em to account for their promises & actions. And lets all build stuff to let people do this.

Nina (Edinburgh): I feel even more inclined to support 38 degrees, as a Scot, I feel completely gutted at a ConDem government. The whole of Scotland voted in just 1(!!) MP, so this result really sticks in the throat! Got a wee funny feeling my marching boots will be used quite a lot this year…All the best with the campaigning, and count me in!

This is serious campaigning and I applaud your efforts from the bottom of my heart. It’s about time people woke up to the fact that politics should not be about men in suits doing deals behind closed doors, while we sit outside being told half-truths. Politics should be about people, not parties.

Geoff (Shropshire): Hopeful that more reasoned politics will emerge rather than the bullpit of the past

Jenna: Parliament doesn’t represent us. The only way we can change this is the same way that we got the vote in the first place – by coming together and fighting for change.

Lisa: Disbelief. But tomorrow the fight begins.

Jay:*sigh* let’s start with sad, slightly betrayed and a touch worried, and end with hopeful, comitted and motivated.

Sharon (Bournemouth): Optimistic! Due to the world financial crisis, life could get tough (or tougher) for us all. We must work together to get through this difficult time and I hope the sentiments of this coalition will inspire us to do just that.

Dave (London): Feel: scared. Hope for: Lib Dem MPs to have the balls to vote with their consciences, for their constituents and against the Tory whip.

How are you feeling today? What are your hopes and fears for? What do you think we should do together now? Let us know here

One thing we can all agree on is that in times of big political change, 38 Degrees has proved that by coming together in our thousands we can play an important role. – Over 3000 of us helped write 38 Degrees’ election plan, agreeing a focus on challenging candidates to tell the truth, cutting through the spin, and encouraging people to vote.  Here are just some of the things we’ve done together:

We partnered with The Guardian newspaper for a people-powered alternative to the TV election debates.  Over 13,000 of us helped choose the questions, and the debate streamed live from the Guardian web site. We generated some controversy over Tory policy on lobbying when Jeremy Hunt “mis-spoke” to announce the Conservatives support a compulsory register of lobbyists.

We sent messages to tens of thousands of voters in marginal constituencies to register to vote and with information about hung parliaments and where the different parties stands.

We challenged local candidates with links to the lobbying industry to come clean and back lobbying transparency.   We had a particular battle with ex-Cameron spin doctor George Eustice down in Cornwall .  Cornwall 38 Degrees members donated to run ads highlighting his pro-lobbying industry position in the local paper though sadly in the end the newspapers all refused to carry the ad after coming under pressure. We’ve also successfully targeted ex-lobbyist Priti Patel, the A-list tory candidate in Witham – earlier this week she caved in to local pressure and will back a ban on secret lobbying.

We challenged candidates on their commitments to public service broadcasting as part of our campaign to stand up for the BBC and stop the cuts proposals.  We revealed in the Observer last Sunday that only one Conservative had signed up.

90% of 38 Degrees members voted in favour of us standing up for a hung parliament against tabloid scaremongering.  We wrote hundreds of letters to newspaper editors, produced a myth busting fact sheet about what a hung parliament will really mean, built a tabloid media scare story generator, teamed up with Avaaz for a petition against Murdoch deciding the election and co-ordinated a “Hung Parliament party” flash mob in parliament square which made the ITN evening news.

As the results came in, 20,000 of us took part in deciding what 38 Degrees should do to respond to a hung parliament. 80% voted for us to demand changing the voting system was part of any coalition deal. Thousands of us signed a petition demanding “Fair Votes Now!” We sent over 150,000 emails to the Lib Dem MPs as they started weighing up their next move, and joined the Take Back Parliament campaign to take to the streets as they met on Saturday afternoon. We raised nearly £20,000 to pay for ads in The Times and The Guardian telling Nick Clegg, “Don’t sell out on PR”. And as the negotiations entered their final stages, we pushed hard on Labour MPs not to let the possibility of deeper reforms of the voting system through lib-lab co-operation to slip away, sending half a million emails to Labour MPs on Tuesday afternoon (before our web site crashed under the pressure!) and joining the rest of Take Back Parliament for a last minute demo in Westminster.

Now we’ve got a new government, we’ll need to think together about the best ways to influence them, and the best ways to make sure they take positive action on the issues that matter to us. They’ll be some things to get behind, and things to fight tooth and nail. We’ll also need to get back to other campaigns we’ve had on the back burner whilst the election was under way – like stopping the BBC’s plans to cut services like 6 Music and Asian Network and challenging companies which behave irresponsibly.  But one thing is clear – when we work together, we can make change happen. Thanks for being involved.

What next for 38 Degrees? Let us know what you think here

P.S. Help keep up the pressure for Fair Votes – join the rest of the Take Back Parliament movement for demonstrations across the UK on Saturday 15th May. http://www.takebackparliament.com/

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