Renew’s non-party project. Encouraging civic participation, voter registration, encouraging youth, marginal and underrepresented groups to engage with their local politicians, campaigns, lobbying, writing to MPs, starting campaigns, petitions etc. Supporting and educating those who intend to stand as independents.
Encouraging people from outside politics to participate.
Engaging actively and openly with the tech community, especially civic tech and election/campaign tech groups.
We are already working closely with the Something New party and sharing technology including our Digital Democracy platform and the open-source OpenPolitics manifesto. We have presented to the Citizen Beta group at Newspeak House and will continue to seek to work together on mutually beneficial projects.
The aim is to do politics differently. To harness tech as a way of giving a smaller party a bigger voice. To demonstrate our commitment to openness, collaboration, transparency and attracting people from outside politics.
We are now reaching out to various campaign groups offering to be the vessel/vehicle/party wing of a movement to build a new opposition.
We aim to offer a slate of broad policies and goals that all groups might support and find consensus on broadly accepted policies.
We are organising an ongoing series of meetings to drive this forward.
Potential areas of discussion
Creating a project that encourages civic participation (from registering to vote, activism, all the way to standing as a candidate) amongst youth, diverse and disenfranchised groups (ethnic, underprivileged, left-behind, EU citizens in UK, Brits abroad etc).
Demonstrating our value as 'more than a party' amongst the stakeholder groups that puts flesh on the bone of our broader proposal.
In 2020 Renew needs to define itself in the context of a post-Brexit United Kingdom. Until now the party has championed pro-Europeanism, centrism and political reform.
Renew does not need to radically alter its identity or abandon the values that it has championed thus far. This identity has attracted a national membership, fantastic parliamentary candidates and an established political figure as party leader. Renew needs to reinvent itself without disposing of its past and its progress; it needs to evolve whilst maintaining continuity.
The 2019 election sas the culmination of 3 years of acrimony over Brexit, which became personalised around the characters of May, Farage, Johson and Corbyn. In this atmosphere it was almost impossible to break through with the message of an alternative. Even groups with massive advantages over us, such as Change UK, could not sustain their appeal and hold their party together.
In a post-Brexit context the party can remain pro-European, advocating for a relationship with the European Union that protects trade, jobs and youth opportunity. Scrutinising and campaigning against government proposals we disagree with in any policy area - including the future relationship - is an important function of being a party, but we need a strong post-Brexit message.
The space that is vacant in the UK political arena is for an open party. The way that the UK has defined its political landscape in the post-war era is left vs right, but that is changing. The traditional right are promising bigger states with: Johnson’s spending pledges on police officers, hospitals and Northern infrastructure; Farage’s pledges to spend £200bn on projects around the UK (outside of London) by scrapping HS2, not paying the EU divorce bill and reducing foreign aid. The right are not advocating fiscally conservative governments but they prescribing increasingly socially conservative policies, such as reducing immigration, erosion of workers rights, centralising power and rolling back judicial checks on the executive power. The Conservatives under Johnson seemed to be able to own this space in the election, with the help of the Brexit Party. However, the Labour Party wasn’t able to get away from 20th Century politics focusing on the old politics of socialism vs capitalism.
Openness has been a tenet of Renew since its inception, bringing new people into politics and changing the shape of the political class fits a message of “Open Politics”. Opening up politics, is about Renew being the party that brings people from outside politics in. We are not tribal, we have demonstrated a willingness to work with other parties (e.g. Change UK), cooperate in pacts (e.g. GE 2019 Unite to Remain) and support umbrella campaign organisations (e.g. People’s Vote).
How do we do this?
Opening up politics means making it more accessible to groups that are currently facing barriers - women, working classes, LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, minority groups, young people, foreign nationals. Some of these groups (foreign nationals, children) face legal barriers, whereas for others the barriers are less tangible. Abolishing legal barriers is quick work in theory, but creating a more open landscape in which the less tangible barriers disappear is a larger and more disparate project.
We can use three tools to generate an open, inclusive, and truly participatory politics: