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Member poll

April 14th, 2014 by

Every week a group of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for last week.

Protecting the NHS by stopping the government’s dangerous plans like privatisation and closing A&E departments has come top this week.

The next biggest issues were: campaigning for more transparency in dealings between government and private companies, and cracking down on tax dodging by big companies.

You can see how 38 Degrees members voted on other issues on the graph below. The blue on the graph shows how many people answered ‘a lot’ in support of the campaigns listed, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.

poll results from April 11th 2014

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Frome plane tree saved!

April 11th, 2014 by

38 Degrees Member Julian from Frome heard that a landmark local tree was at risk of being chopped down by developers, so he started a petition on Campaigns by You to stop them. Last week they had some great news, the tree was saved!

Here’s Julian’s story of his campaign:

Photo courtesy Frome Times

“In February this year, a property developer applied for a planning application to fell a mature London Plane Tree in my town – Frome in Somerset. Just 6 months ago, the tree had been granted a Tree Preservation Order, but unfortunately the TPO would not save the tree from Pangmore Development’s application if approved by Mendip District Council.
One of the last trees in the town centre and certainly the last tree of note in the Kingsway precinct, the Plane is a specimen town centre tree and plays a major contribution in the character of the Conservation Area. Its felling would be a major loss to the aesthetic quality of the town.

I was concerned that the tree would be lost, so I set up a petition on the 38 degrees website ‘Save the Frome Plane Tree‘, and publicised it using social media. At first I recognised names on the petition – friends and people I knew around the town – but fairly soon it went ‘mini-viral’ at a rate of knots, and seemed to take on a life of its own. I was hoping for a few hundred signatures of support, but within a week the petition had gained 2,745 signatures – almost exclusively with Frome postcodes – and I realised the strength of feeling for Frome’s green monument.

Around 10% of the town’s population had signed up.

While the petition counted as only one objection to the planning application in the eyes of the council, it raised awareness of the trees plight and prompted 80 people to write letters of objection. I delivered the petition personally to the Council who were visible surprised at the level of support, and I knew then that it had made an impact.

On 3 April, the Council rejected the application to fell, applying a permanent Tree Preservation Order, so the Frome Plane Tree lives to fight another day.

The 38 degrees petition undoubtably went a long way to securing this outcome, it was easy to set up and manage,and I cannot recommend it highly enough as a tool for galvanising local support for campaigns that matter to local people. It works.”

If there’s an issue close to your heart you can start your own campaign here: http://you.38degrees.org.uk it takes just a couple of minutes to get started.

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Poll Results: Hospital Closure Clause

April 10th, 2014 by

It’s been a few weeks since MPs debated the hospital closure clause. Here’s a quick recap of what happened: Lib Dem MP and former health minister Paul Burstow tabled an amendment which aimed to remove the worst parts of the clause. The amendment was drafted by lawyers funded by 38 Degrees members. But Burstow decided to withdraw his support for the amendment at the last minute after the government offered some concessions.

Since then, the 38 Degrees office team have been speaking to experts to decide how meaningful the government concessions were, and whether Paul Burstow was right not to push for a vote. And it’s worrying news. The government’s concessions did not go far enough.

They committed to consult local people about any proposed hospital closures. They also said that local doctors should be consulted. But lawyers have said that while some of the concessions are a step forward, our hospitals still aren’t safe.

It’s disappointing that we didn’t make as much progress as we hoped. But the hospital closure clause is not law yet. It returns to the House of Lords on the 7th May. So, last week, 38 Degrees members voted to decide our next move.

The results are in! 38 Degrees members have decided that we want to keep campaigning on this issue, and to shout about the fact that no hospital will be safe under the current proposed bill. (The red shows 38 Degrees members who ranked it as their top priority, and green and dark blue show members who support it as an option, and light blue are those who want to stop campaigning on this issue).

So, it looks like we’ll be keeping on campaigning. Watch this space for our next move… more information in the next couple of days.

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Can you volunteer a couple of hours a week?

April 4th, 2014 by

Could you volunteer a couple of hours a week, either from the office in London or from home? The office team is really small, but there are lots of 38 Degrees members across the country and we have big ambitions!  Alongside the office team and a team of volunteers you’ll help respond to emails from 38 Degrees members and chat to other members on the phone.

38 Degrees is a people-powered, member-led organisation that’s growing by the day. 38 Degrees campaigns are chosen (and won!) by members coming together from all over the UK.

And as more and more people get involved with 38 Degrees, more and more members are getting in touch with the office either by email or by calling in – providing vital information that helps decide which issues 38 Degrees campaigns on.

But collecting ideas and feedback from such a diverse group of people is a big task. The 38 Degrees office receives hundreds (and sometimes thousands!) of great emails every week from 38 Degrees members. So who better to help us answer these emails than 38 Degrees members themselves?

There are two roles available. Please ensure you state clearly which role you are interested in if you’re able to apply.

Here’s a some more details:

1. Volunteer admin assistant

Overview: As an admin assistant you will contribute to a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, dealing with phone inquiries and providing information to general queries in the 38 Degrees office.  You will work closely with the Office Manager and colleagues to carry out reception duties and support all aspects of the organisation’s administration. You have excellent communication skills both written and verbal, including strong customer service skills, be flexible and a team player.

Ideally we would like you to commit to a minimum of one-two working days during the week within regular office hours at 38 Degrees.  Please ensure you state clearly your available days and times.  Expenses are paid for return travel to the office as well as your lunch.

Key Attributes and Responsibilities:

• To manage a very busy phone line and liaise with others to ensure that all calls are directed to the correct person.

• To communicate effectively and professionally at all times

• To provide support as and when needed, must have a “can do attitude”.

• To take responsibility for organising and prioritising own workload.

• Help support the 38 Degrees team.

You are:

• outgoing, friendly, enjoys talking to people.

• a person who has a can-do, positive attitude.

• hardworking and committed.

2. Contact box remote volunteers job description:

Overview: As a Contact box remote volunteer, you will be able to work anywhere you have internet access.  You will work closely with the Members Champion to respond to queries via email.

Ideally we would like you to commit to a minimum of a few hours a day during the week within regular office hours.  Please ensure you state clearly your available days and times.

Key Attributes and Responsibilities:

• To check, manage and answer a range of emails from our members, including but not limited to queries on:

  - Current campaigns

  - Campaign suggestions

  - Technical problems

  - Donations

You will need:

• a high standard of written English

• polite and friendly attitude

• good judgement and analytical skills

• ability to prioritise workload

• computer literacy, particularly with email

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Great news: Labour commits to repeal Gagging Law!

April 3rd, 2014 by

Great news! Following 60,000 members of 38 Degrees writing to him, Ed Miliband has just committed to a Labour government repealing the gagging law, if they win power at next year’s General Election. And the first people to find out were 38 Degrees members!

Here’s what Ed Miliband wrote in his reply to 38 Degrees members who had asked him to scrap this awful law, breaking the news:

“Thank you for getting in touch with me about the gagging law. I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you.

To hear from thousands of you was inspiring. It galvanised my belief that when people can stand up like you did and hold politicians to account our democracy is alive and well. And I have no intention of allowing the Tories and Lib Dems to silence you.

So I want you to be the first to know: a Labour government will repeal David Cameron’s gagging law.

I have been clear from the start that I oppose this gag on charities and campaigners, which was introduced with little consultation. If Labour wins the next election, we will remove it from the statute book.

In its place we will legislate for real reform of lobbying, and we will consult with charities and campaigners on the reforms we need to both ensure transparency and protect freedom of speech.

There is much wrong with this law — and that’s why we’re taking a stand against it. You had some specific questions for me in your original email. Here are specific answers.

If we win the election next year, the Labour government I lead will:

  • Repeal the changes to non-party campaigning rules, which create such an illiberal gag on charities and campaigners (i.e. the Section 2 you mentioned in your email to me)
  • We will hold a full consultation with charities and campaigners to determine what reform we need in its place
  • We will ensure that any reform we bring in will both ensure transparency in elections and protect freedom of speech
  • Thank you again for raising this issue with me. The health of our democracy depends on people’s right to campaign on the issues they care about. It must be protected.

I look forward to working with you to make sure the gagging law is repealed.

Best wishes,


The gagging law will still be coming into force in September, and we still need to decide together what our next steps are, but this is a great commitment to get from a major political party.

What do you think of Ed’s email? Join the conversation by commenting below.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Air pollution

April 3rd, 2014 by

The air we breathe has a direct impact on our health. But across huge swathes of the UK, the air is so dirty that the government’s been taken to court. We’ve failed to meet even minimum EU standards for clean air. In the past week alone, we’ve seen record levels of pollution.

Environment minister, Owen Paterson, is failing to face facts about pollution. Now he has two weeks to lay out an ambitious plan of action. Or else the EU will start legal action that could lead to massive fines for the UK – and thousands of people living next to busy roads will keep on breathing dangerously dirty air.

He could try to get away with doing as little as possible. But together 38 Degrees members are piling pressure on Owen Paterson to take real action. We’re helping make this an issue too toxic to ignore. Over the next week 38 Degrees members will be writing to Owen Paterson, urging him to present an ambitious plan of action to the EU – on how he’s going to crack down on air pollution.

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK. That’s more than twice as many per year as were caused by passive smoking before the ban. Children living near busy roads in the UK have been shown to grow up with underdeveloped lungs.

Top environmental lawyers ClientEarth say: “We have the right to breathe clean air and the government has a legal duty to protect us from air pollution.” But the UK still has some of the highest levels of harmful gasses in the air we breathe.

Together, 38 Degrees members are helping to turn this legal challenge into an opportunity – to make bold steps towards cutting pollution in the UK. Together, we’re kicking up a stink and showing Owen Paterson that levels of pollution are a marker that he’ll be judged by.

To get started please click here. There are hints on what to say on the page, and please do tell your own story of why cutting air pollution is important to you,

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Climate Change, Environment

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Fox Hunting: An update

April 2nd, 2014 by

Last week, 50,000 38 Degrees members received a poll about whether 38 Degrees should campaign against fox hunting. Following on from rumours that David Cameron was attempting to bring back aspects of fox hunting in the UK.

Over 80% of people said they would like to launch a campaign. But with 20% of people having reservations, it wasn’t a clear green light.

So fox hunting was then included in last week’s member poll, to see what a larger group of 38 Degrees members felt.

Every week a random group of 38 Degrees members receive a poll laying out potential 38 Degrees campaigns. They then vote on what the priorities for 38 Degrees should be, and this helps decide what 38 Degrees members campaign on in the following weeks.

Fox hunting came last in this week’s member poll. Less than 30% of people said they’d like to campaign on fox hunting a lot. With a large number saying they were outright against to the idea.

38 Degrees is a member-led organisation. Together we campaign on issues that 38 Degrees members decide on.

Therefore, the lack of a clear member mandate on fox hunting meant that, this time, the campaign won’t be going ahead. There weren’t enough 38 Degrees members, who were passionate about campaigning on the risk of bringing back fox hunting, to launch a campaign.

That doesn’t mean that 38 Degrees will never campaign on fox hunting. The political landscape could change, and protecting our foxes could jump back up the polls. But right now, 38 Degrees members want to focus on stopping the privatisation of our NHS, slowing climate change, and cracking down on tax dodging.

If you’re disappointed about this, and would like to keep campaigning against the threat of changes to the law that bans fox hunting, you could start your own campaign on Campaigns by You.

Campaigns by You is the part of the 38 Degrees website where anyone can start a campaign on issues that matter to them. If you start a campaign, you can receive staff support to help build a petition, and share your campaign with people you know. And if your campaign proves popular, it could be taken on as a 38 Degrees campaign in the future.

The League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA are continuing to campaign against fox hunting. Or if you’re in favour of fox hunting, the Countryside Alliance are helping fight that corner.

38 Degrees works best when lots of us are united behind a common cause. Together, we can use people-power, from the strength of over 2.5 million members, to put pressure on our MPs and decision makers to bring about real change.

Sometimes campaigns aren’t taken forward, because they don’t have the people-powered backing needed to be a successful 38 Degrees campaign. But another important aspect of 38 Degrees is that we’re nimble, and we can change course as soon as 38 Degrees members unite behind a cause.

If you’ve got an idea for a campaign that you’d like to see 38 Degrees members take forward, you can suggest it as a 38 Degrees campaign by emailing in to emailtheteam@38degrees.org.uk. You can also share your comments below.

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Bees 1 – 0 eBay

April 1st, 2014 by

Fantastic news. The bee-killer pesticides are off eBay – AGAIN!

62,827 emails (!) from 38 Degrees members pushed eBay into taking action. They even told the 38 Degrees office that they had people in “making manual checks over the weekend” – which for a huge corporation based on fancy technology is extraordinary.

Here’s a statement from eBay:

“An open letter to 38 Degrees supporters: 

eBay is a marketplace, not a retailer.  We rely on our sellers and our community to help us, as well as our own monitoring system.  We are still improving our system to catch listings for this issue, and it will get better, but no system is perfect.  We will immediately take action against items reported to us. 

It is our experience that sellers want to comply with the regulations, but often don’t know them so we will educate sellers about the rules too.

Thank you for your passion in helping to keep eBay free of items of concern.

Last week it looked as though eBay had acted. 48 hours later the pesticides were back up on their site. But this time, it looks like eBay have actually done the work and fixed the problem. The staff team can’t find either of the banned bee-killers, imidacloprid or thiamothoxam, in pesticides for sale on eBay.co.uk right now – can you?

The charity Buglife, who first found the illegal pesticides on eBay, are now talking to eBay about their pesticide policies. Vanessa Amaral Rogers from Buglife started the original petition to eBay on Campaigns by You, a platform which lets anyone start their own campaign. [3] That’s how 38 Degrees members first got involved. Here’s what Vanessa has to say:

“After fantastic work from over 60,000 38 Degrees members, Buglife are extremely happy to report that neonicotinoid pesticides are no longer up for sale on eBay. We will be keeping a close eye on eBay to see whether they keep their promise and don’t allow the sale of these illegal bee-killing pesticides in the future – bees can breathe a sigh of relief for now.

Do you know of another corporate giant behaving badly? Is there something else you’d like to change? Click here to start your own campaign on Campaigns by You in minutes.

All this is not to say the banned pesticides will never go up for sale again. But eBay sound serious about fixing their systems – and now, eBay know that 38 Degrees members are watching.

So, some good news. But everyone keeping a watch out will help catch the illegal listings the next time they go up. Report anything you find – eBay want to hear it.

Until then, eBay!

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Poll Results: March 29th 2014

March 31st, 2014 by

Every week a random (but representative!) sample of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for March 29th 2014.

The blue represents people answering ‘a lot’ to the question of whether 38 Degrees members should spend time on each issue, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.

Protecting the NHS by stopping the government’s dangerous plans like privatisation and closing A&E departments has come top this week! See here for a campaign to uncover links between NHS England – the body in charge of privatisation contracts in the NHS in England – and big business.

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Gagging Law: Meeting with Angela Eagle MP

March 28th, 2014 by

Yesterday, 50 members of 38 Degrees from all over the UK came together in Portcullis House in Westminster to meet with Angela Eagle, shadow leader of the Commons and the person who was leading on this for the Labour party. Thanks to everyone who came!

Together, we wanted to push Angela Eagle on what Labour are doing about the gagging law. Because although Labour strongly opposed it at every stage in Parliament, there’s been an eery silence since it was passed.

It was a useful meeting – Angela Eagle does really seem on our side on this issue. She opened the meeting by confirming to us that the gagging law is a ‘terrible piece of legislation’ which is ‘a totally unwarranted attack on new forms of democracy’.

38 Degrees members then posed challenging questions to Angela Eagle about what steps Labour are actually going to take to overturn the law. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t being fobbed off with all talk, no action.

Angela Eagle also made it clear that although Labour oppose the gagging law, in order for them to make this a priority in their manifesto we have to keep shouting about how the law is going to crush our campaigning efforts over the next year.

She listened carefully to (and noted down) our views and concerns, to pass them onto Ed Miliband. It’s true that we need to continue to prove to Labour that the gagging law will have a chilling effect in order to get it overturned.

So overall, quite good news. We can be confident that Labour are still against the gagging law. But it’s still not entirely clear if they’re taking serious action behind the scenes. We can’t put our feet up yet. Together, 38 Degrees members need to make sure that the commitments are followed through in Labour’s manifesto promises. Watch this space for the next steps!

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