Voter registration and voting campaign

Thu, 15/03/2012 - 17:39 -- nick

The Challenge

We are lucky to live in a democracy. Democracies provide mechanisms to change the world around us when they aren’t working for us. They provide opportunities to engage with the political process if you want to get more involved, like campaigning for a candidate, and allow you to hold politicians to account if you believe they aren’t representing you or your interests.

But individuals can’t always get their voices heard. An MP needs tens of thousands of votes to get elected, and there are 650 MPs in the UK. In order to make our case and get real change we need to act together, and to influence our representatives, the government and political parties we need to vote together.

The Campaign

The campaign will support the achievement of the sixth objective in the Unemployed Net Charter:

‘In order to help achieve all of our aims we will support an ongoing voter registration and voting campaign. All site users will be encouraged to register to vote, and Unemployed Net will ask politicians of all main parties to outline their offers to unemployed and economically inactive people on our site. We will then make a recommendation to users on which offer provides the best value to us. In this way we hope to get a better deal for all unemployed and economically inactive people, including financial, social and representative’

Unemployed Net is apolitical and does not support a specific political party. However, in order to improve the conditions for our users we will seek to talk to all main parties to get information on their offer to users, particularly on the key points of benefits (amounts, planned changes, eligibility, uprating), attitude (the language they use when talking about us and beliefs about unemployment and benefit receipt), and representation (how accessible they are to unemployed and economically inactive constituents and how they will fight to represent us).

We will make a recommendation before each general, European, Mayoral and wide-scale local election on the party that has committed to providing the best deal to unemployed and economically inactive people, setting out the evidence as provided by each main party through the site and their manifestos. Site users are free to disregard the recommendation should they wish.

We also encourage unemployed and economically inactive people to engage with the political process more directly, through campaigning for preferred candidates or standing for office. This helps to change policies, makes parties more representative and can improve confidence, as well as providing something to help develop a CV.

The Evidence

By voting together we can have a much greater say in setting the conditions that we live under. Unemployed and economically inactive people use public services more than others, with certain public services (Jobcentre Plus, Job Clubs, the Work Programme and its infrastructure) only open to unemployed and economically inactive people.

We want to take a bigger role in developing these services and setting fairer conditions for unemployed and economically inactive people, and believe that, by voting together, we can ensure our voices are heard.

Currently the level of voting by unemployed people makes us easy to ignore as a group. The 2005 report ‘Social exclusion and political engagement’ (The Electoral Commission) states that the unemployed were the least likely group to vote at the 2001 general election, with only 48% of all unemployed people voting.

It also found that political activism was higher among ABC1s than C2DEs (the group that the unemployed belong to), with 23% compared to 7%:

We believe that joining together and increasing the proportion of unemployed and economically inactive people voting will push our concerns higher up the political agenda, and believe that this is vital to improving our circumstances.

There are more than 9 million unemployed and economically inactive adults of working age in Britain, including those receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or disability benefits, those looking for work but not receiving benefits, and those caring for others. If we act together, and sign up to the Unemployed Net campaign to show politicians we are united, we can make a real difference to the way we are seen and improve our conditions and life chances.

We want to hold politicians accountable for their policies and decisions relating to unemployed people, with some having previously disregarded our interests. This has been easy for them to do because of our low voting rates, but joining together will require politicians to see us as a special interest group whose needs they must meet if they want to get elected.

Join Us

The most important part of this campaign is for Unemployed Net’s users to register to vote (if you haven’t already). It’s easy, and you can register online at

Once you have registered please let us know you have done so by leaving a comment below and telling us.

The more of us that sign up, the more power we can bring to discussions with politicians. If you are already registered to vote and intend to vote with our recommendation please email us at the campaign address.

The second part is also important. We want you to work for the politicians that best represent unemployed and economically inactive people and meet our needs or to stand for election yourselves, and want you to tell us if you do. By working for them you can help us get our issues higher up the agenda, talk to politicians and make sure they understand what being unemployed or economically inactive really means.

Please let us know what you have done by emailing the site at: