- The non-party campaigning section of this bill must be withdrawn
- The bill is an attack on democracy which could restrict legitimate participation in the political process
Implications of the changes in Scotland
- The reductions in spending and registration thresholds applicable in Scotland are disproportionate, unnecessary and entirely without foundation
- Introducing these thresholds, widened scope of regulated spending activities and new rules for coalition working will cause organisations to curtail their campaigning activities in the run up to elections or face criminal prosecution
- The £2,000 threshold for registration with the Electoral Commission in the lead up to Scottish elections will have a profoundly negative effect on the positive interaction which takes place between the third sector and the Scottish Parliament.
- The numerous elections taking place in Scotland over the next five years will mean that the restrictions brought about by the bill are in place for the majority of the time
- We note that only UK bills have the power to legislate for spending limits for devolved elections, a provision which is wholly absent from this bill, creating an anomaly and disparity between devolved and UK elections
- This bill will create a culture where participation in democracy is discouraged and restricted and third sector and civil society voices are suppressed
If enacted this bill would threaten third sector campaigning in Scotland on public policy issues. Our view is that part 2 of the Bill should be completely withdrawn and become part of a separate process which involves much more detailed consultation, impact assessment and scrutiny than has been currently afforded to date. Anything short of this would constitute an attack on the ability of the third sector to participate with the democratic processes.