by Becca McCarthy Sep 9th, 2016
The next time someone asks you what good an online petition can do, show them this post. Almost every 38 Degrees campagin starts with a petitions signed by thousands of people like you across the country. But very few campaigns stop there. This week, together, we won six (yes, you read that right, six!) big victories.
If you’re short on time, here’s the quick version:
- This week, the privatisation of the Land Registry was officially scapped. That was thanks to a big petition, a crowdfunded investigation, and lots of us raising our voices.
- This week, Sports Direct dropped a zero-hour contracts for their staff. We played a big part in this one. It was a while back, but togerther we ran a landmark court case that helped set this in motion.
- This week, a tax dodging loophole costing £700m a year was almost completely closed off. This was one was all of us. We christened it the ‘Mayfair loophole’ and it took 18 months to close – but start to finish, we saved around £700, a year from tax dodging.
- This week, tax laws were changed so companies have to report on money they’ve stashed abroad. We worked with lots of others to push for this. A highlight was headline-grabbing stunt outside the international tax summit. Lots of us chipped in for that one.
- This week, people living in safe houses – often survivors of domestic violence – were allowed to vote anonymously. This involved a lot of us pilling in to get behind Mehala, a 38 Degrees member who wasn’t allowed to vote.
- Oh – and there there’s TTIP. In case you missed it. TTIP, the dodgy trade deal, is almost dead. It’s been a long fight alongside people across the continent, and a hudge, huge win for people power.
38 Degrees members don’t always win six campaigns in one week. But there’s a common factor in each of these victories: people power. It might sound cheesy. But honestly – none of these campaigns were winnable without thousands of us giving our voice, money or time to help change the UK for the better.
You may have met people who are a bit sceptical about online petitions. So here’s some of the different ways 38 Degrees members are winning campaigns. It’s a long read, so grab a cup of tea and take a closer look at a few people-powered campaigns that have changed the UK this week.
38 Degrees Members & Private Investigators
- Private Investigators are normally something you only hear about in films or 80s TV shows. Not any more. When the plans to sell-off the Land Registry were unveilled, 38 Degrees member James started a campaign to stop the sell-off of the public service that records the sale of houses and land. It began with a huge peition – 300,000 of us demanding a stop to the sell-off. The government minister in charge said he’d head the criticisms “loud and clear”.
- Then, 20,000 of us wrote into a government consultation expressing our concern.
- Then came the phone call to the private investigator. The idea was to probe the companies who wanted to buy the Land Registry. 38 Degrees members chipped in to pay for the investigation, and what we uncovered together was astounding. All four companies bidding for the Land Registry had links to offshore tax havens. Our explosive findings were splashed all over The Times – and MPs used them to criticise the goverment’s plans.
- The government pressed pause on the plans to privatise the Land Registry in July. And this week, it’s official. Thanks to 38 Degrees member, we’re keeping this important publich service in public hands.
The people vs. Sports Direct: how the case was won
- You might not have been a member of 38 Degrees back in 2013. But threes years ago, 100,000 of us joined our voices to ask the government to investigate the fact that 90% Sports Direct employees were on zero hours contracts.
- We didn’t stop there. 38 Degrees member Zahera, a former Sports Direct “zero hours” employee, launched a people-powered legal action against the brand over their employment practices. Over 13,000 of us chipped in for legal fees; Zahera had an army of us standing with her.
- And that’s not the end. 38 Degrees members visited the Department for Businees Innovation and Skills to hand in our petition. 38 Degrees members Susie, Christine and Andrew were brilliant. They told the head of the government review that ‘flexibility’ actually mean job insecurity and stress to many people. We demanded that the government launched a proper consulation. Two months later, they did.
- 36,000 of us wrote in to the consulation, 20,000 of us wrote to HMRC to demand they investivate. Sports Direct and another 35,000 of us demanded that Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley went to Parliament to answer questoins. You get the picture – there was a lot of letter writing. Alongside all of this, other groups like Citizens UK and Unite were organsing Sports Direct workers to take action – winning £1m in back-pay to Sports Direct workers.
- Finally, after three years of hard work, Sports Direct have said they’re dropping zero-hour contracts. Phew. A huge win for perseverance and persistent people power.
The tax-dodging swindle nobody knew about
- Frustrated by the lack of government action on tax dodging, we decided to show politicians how to close a tax loophole. Thousands of us chipped in to fund an explosive report that lifted the lid on the ‘Mayfair Loophole’ that allowed millionaire City bosses to dodge tax on their earnings. We pushed it into the media, wrote to local papers and chipped in for adverts in big national newspapers. We help publich meetings across the country with politicians and we build a huge petition to spread the word.
- Over several months, we sent hundreds of thousands of emails, calls and tweets to MPs demanding they shut this loophole. We even chipped in for an expert to write the legal clauses needed to actually shurt the loophole – and 18 months later, it’s officially part of the UK law.
- MPs voted to close the Mayfair tax loophole this Monday. The tax dodge that let rich finance bosses avoid up to £700m of a tax a year is almost entirely closed. That’s a lot more money for our schools and hospitals. And a step towards a fairer Britain.
Chances are, you helped make one of these six big victories happen, if not more! 38 Degrees only exists because of people like you. That’s the beauty of 38 Degrees. It’s easy to feel powerless on our own, but winning campaigns like this can remind us that when we take on a challenge, we can win.
Reading the papers or watching the news can sometimes make you worry about what lies ahead for Britain. But victories like these give hope for the future. There are big battles ahead: like the plans to force local NHS leaders to make impossible cuts to save money, or the campaign to make sure that Brexit negotiations work for all of us. But I think we’re ready.
38 Degrees will never take money from the government or big corporate donors. That means we rely on small donations from people like you to run and win campaigns like these. Regular donations mean 38 Degress can stay independent. They pay for the computers, investigations, phone bills, train tickets and websites that allow hundreds of thousands of to us spring in to action in just a few hours.
Thank you so much for being part of 38 Degrees.