Mar 21st, 2014
By 38 Degrees team
“Do you recognise how much influence you as an organisation have on the way people think about politics and politicians?”
That’s what a Conservative MP said to me yesterday about 38 Degrees members. I was speaking in front of a committee of MPs looking into why people choose not to vote or get involved with the political process. I wanted to speak for as many of us as possible – so thank you to all 110,000 members who filled in the survey this week.
It really felt like some of the MPs were listening. Some of them were clearly rattled after hearing our home truths. But they all recognised that we’re a hugely influential movement – and that’s because our strength comes from the way we work together.
In his closing remarks, the committee chair, Graham Allen MP even said:
“You are not just you, sitting at the table as an ordinary person. You come as an enormous 800 pound gorilla with 2 million members at your back. You’re a very powerful and influential person, I would like to use that influence to get from you and your members a serious, positive package of things… We all know where we are and it’s not a good place. How do we get to that place and improve voter engagement?”
I’ve never been called a gorilla before. But putting that aside, if I’d had the opportunity to respond, I would have said that our power comes from all 2.5 million of us standing together. To watch the evidence session click here.
Reading through your responses to the survey, what stood out above all else was a very real crisis of confidence, in politicians and the political system over all. I did my best to represent your views and hopefully I did a good job.  But it was hard not to get angry on behalf of us all.
One of the Conservative MPs in the committee, Christopher Chope, chipped in at the beginning to say that this survey wasn’t representative of the public at large. And then left 10 minutes into the session. Another MP wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways, it seemed he just wanted to shout at me, not listen.
I know lots of us are sceptical about what happens next. But, together, we need to push for our democracy to work better for all of us. It’s too important to leave to politicians alone. What’s clear is that our movement proves that we deserve better – and together we’ll continue to work to achieve this.