Early general election and the Lobbying Act

18 April 2017

The Prime Minister has called an early general election to take place on 8 June 2017. Under the Fixed-terms Parliament Act, an early election requires the support of two-thirds of MPs. The PM will lay down a motion in the House of Commons in the coming days. Parliament will be dissolved if a sufficient number of MPs support the motion, possibly in early May. 

The announcement has many implications for the international development sector and any activities planned prior to the election. The most immediate consequence is that regulations governing non-party campaigning come into force. A non-party campaigner may be a campaigning organisation, a charity, a faith group, a union, a company or an individual. The 2014 Lobbying Act, which amended the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000), is the primary law governing non-party campaigning in the run up to elections.  There are also policy implications for tackling global poverty, as all political parties may look to refresh their policy positions in light of new manifestos. 

Manifestos and key dates

All political parties will be publishing their new manifestos in the next couple of weeks. We expect them to come out roughly four to five weeks before the election, which would be early May. Bond will update members on how we intend to work with major stakeholders on the manifesto process. Organisations will need to move very quickly if they hope to work with the parties on manifesto commitments. We will also do full analysis of the manifestos when they are published.

The Queen’s speech will no longer take place in May, instead we expect it to happen in late June. 

Following the dissolution of Parliament, we expect Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to be announced in mid-May. 

The Lobbying Act

The Lobbying Act provides a set of rules to govern people and organisations that publicly campaign on issues in the run up to elections but are not standing as a political party or candidate. The rules seek to ensure that no one individual or organisation can have an undue influence over an election.

If your organisation is planning to conduct public campaigning activities between now and the 8 June, Bond encourages you to familiarise yourself with the Electoral Commission’s guidance documents, which can be found here: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/party-or-campaigner/non-party-campaigners.  

In many cases, the rules will not apply to member activities and you should carry on campaigning as normal. However, it is important that you take time to understand the rules and think about what it means for your organisation. For some members, your trustees will need to take a decision about whether your organisation should register as a non-party campaigner with the Electoral Commission. 

For more information

Click here to view a briefing (PDF) on the Lobbying Act for Bond members.

For more information please contact Rowan Popplewell on rpopplewell@bond.org.uk