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Riverford Hunting Campaign

October 8th, 2014 by


For 48 hours, 38 Degrees member Ama ran a campaign on Campaigns by You calling on Riverford Organics and the Watson Family to stop all hunting on Riverford land.  After an amazing number of people signed her petition the campaign reached local and national news.

She has now decided to end it, here’s a message from Ama:

“In 48 hours 4,500 people, many of them Riverford customers, or potential Riverford customers, have made their point that Riverford need to STOP HUNTING NOW, on ALL their farms. The voice of Riverfords’ customers have been heard, let us see if the Watson family rise to the challenge, adopt more customer focused polices, respond to their public, become far more ethical, and refuse to take produce from any farm, including their own, where blood sports are practiced.

After all, if their competitors can do this, why can’t they? The British public are against blood sports, and those who buy organic even more so, we won’t except anything less than cruelty free organic produce.”

Here is the text of the petition:

To: Guy Watson of Riverford Organics & The Watson Family

Immediately stop any form of hunting on Riverford owned land and stop sponsoring the South Devon Hunt.

Why is this important?

Riverford Organic Farms Ltd prides itself publicly on its ethics and its high animal welfare standards – a major reason why consumers, across the UK, support it. But away from the public’s eyes, Riverford Farm has, in fact, been actively allowing fox hunting on its lands, and worse still, potentially the cruel atrocity that is cub-hunting.

In the early hours of Wednesday the 1st October a fox hunt was spotted on Riverford Farm land, consisting of a large number of hounds of differing colours, which stayed on Riverford land for many hours, and are likely to be the South Devon Hunt. The fact they were hunting a full month before the official start of the fox hunting season suggests they were out ‘cubbing.’

This particularly cruel and sadistic practice involves hunters going after newborn fox cubs, literally digging them out of their holes with spades, with the desperate vixen completely unable to protect her young. The cubs are then ripped apart and mutilated by a pack of hounds; the hunters using this horrible ‘opportunity’ with vulnerable animals to teach their younger hounds how to kill. Those dogs who don’t immediately show enthusiasm for mutilating their fellow beings are shot as “useless” to the hunt.

Riverford Farm has, additionally, been actively sponsoring the cruel South Devon Hunt.

Riverford Organics customers pay a premium for their vegetables and consumables because they are humane, conscious people who are trying in their own, personal way to live more ethically and sustainably. This betrayal by Riverford Farm abuses both animal and customer.

In a democratic society the very notion of selectively policing the laws of the land is dangerous and unacceptable. Riverford is fully aware that it is engaging with an unethical and potentially illegal activity, (and that it has been doing so for many years, in secret.)

This petition asks that customers demand answers, transparency – and change – from Riverford Farm, and refrain from supporting Riverford Organics further, while it remains connected to cruel and potentially illegal blood ‘sports.’ We do not wish to be complicit. And it is high time the whole of the Watson family lived up to its own ethical spin.

For more information on the terrible realities of cub hunting, see: What is Cub Hunting? – League Against Cruel Sports see:

Riverford Organics responded to the campaign in this facebook post.

Is there an issue close to your heart? What would you like to see change in the UK? You can start your campaign here.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Campaigns by You

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Tips on how to convince your MP to back Real Recall

October 8th, 2014 by

As an MP himself Zac Goldsmith knows exactly the kind of things that your MP will need to hear to convince them to support the amendments to the Government’s recall bill

Here is a video of  his top tips to convince your MP to support real recall:

If you have any more questions on talking to your MP please get in touch at recall@38degrees.org.uk.



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Getting ready to visit your MP about the real recall bill

October 8th, 2014 by

Going to see your MP to persuade them to back real recall makes the difference in at least three different ways:

  1. Just by turning up, you’re sending a powerful signal that you care. MPs generally assume that if some people are coming to see them about an issue, that means an awful lot more of their voters are concerned.

  1. It’s a chance to ask your MP some questions and put your points to them. It forces them to engage properly with the issue rather than just following the party line.

  1. It’s a chance to ask your MP specifically to commit to do some things to help win the campaign.

This briefing gives you the essentials for what you need to know to visit your MP. There’s also some suggestions for “sticky questions” which suggests things you can ask your MP.

If you prefer to watch videos, there’s a five minute film explaining how to convince your MP from Zac Goldsmith MP here.

With all of this, please remember – you don’t need to be an expert, it’s about you and your opinions.

After your meeting, please do send a photo and a quick summary into the staff team so we can let other 38 Degrees members know how it went! You can email this into

What is the real recall bill?

The real recall bill gives voters the power sack their MPs in between elections. Voters would have to state their reasons if they attempted to do this. 38 Degrees members helped pay for and write the real recall bill. We want MPs to vote for it, in the form of amendments to the government’s bill, later this month.

The real recall bill sets out three steps for recalling an MP:

Step 1 – Notice of intent

If a ‘notice of intent’ to recall an MP is signed by 5% of voters in a constituency within 28 days then a recall petition is made available. Signatures can be gathered electronically or in person.

Step 2 – Recall petition

If a recall petition is signed by 20% of voters in a constituency within 8 weeks then a recall referendum will be held. There will be four places in the constituency where voters can sign the petition.

Step 3 – Recall referendum

If the majority of constituents vote for their MP to be recalled at the referendum, a by-election will be held where a new MP will be chosen. The referendum has to happen no less than 21 days, and no more than 27 days, after the issue of notice has been given. A referendum cannot happen within 6 months of a general election.

What we want MPs to do

There are two things we need MPs to do:

  1. Sign the amendments which will be tabled after the Second Reading of the Bill (that’s the next stage of the Bill in Parliament)

  2. We need MPs to vote for the amendments to the government’s ‘Recall of MPs Bill’ that is progressing through the House of Commons now.

You can read the amendments here: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2014/10/07/recall-amendments-to-the-governments-plans/

It might be a good idea to print them off and take them with you to the meeting.

The key difference between the real recall bill, and the government’s cop-out version, is that real recall gives voters the power to call a recall referendum. The government’s bill wants to keep the power to call a referendum amongst a group of other MPs.

So the key question to put to your MP is:

“Will you please vote for real recall that puts voters in charge of whether and why to call a recall referendum in between elections, and not a committee of other MPs?”

How to deal with the common arguments

Here are the most common arguments made against the real recall bill and points that you can make to counter them. Your MP could say these things, so you can use these responses if they do.

It’s too complex to come up with a good voter driven recall bill, how can you relate a percentage required to sign the petition to the percentage which someone is elected by, for example?

  • The percentage (or margin) an MP has been elected by is not relevant. What is important is that, ultimately, an MP would only be recalled if a majority of constituents voted to kick them out.

  • At 20% the petition percentage is high – that is what’s important in order to prevent abuse of the power by a smaller group of individuals.

  • It’s not complicated in the USA and European countries that use recall effectively and 20% is the most common petition requirement.

Powerful interests and ‘big money’ like Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, will use recall against MPs they don’t like

  • Someone like Rupert Murdoch would have nothing to gain by spending their resources – in Murdoch’s case column space in his national newspapers – over many weeks in order to attempt to influence a local constituency recall attempt. The attempt may be unsuccessful, with the public, customers, financial backers or advertisers of Mr Murdoch’s publications objecting or being angered.

  • Despite over 100 years of recall being used across the USA, ‘big money’ does not influence or misuse the process. In fact recall was introduced in the USA as a remedy to stop the bad influence that big business and corrupt finance had over their democracy in the late 19th century.

We need a definition of wrongdoing/a trigger mechanism so that MPs can’t be recalled just because their constituents disagree with them (the Equal Marriage Bill is most frequently cited as an example of when this could have been ‘dangerous’)

  • Democracy is about trusting people to hold their MPs to account. We are happy for them to do this at election time so there is no logical reason why we can’t trust them to do it in between elections too.

  • It would take several months for an MP to be recalled, during which time there would be extensive dialogue and debate. The proposer/s of the recall would have to include a statement giving their reasons. Constituents would have ample opportunity to consider these reasons and decide whether to support the recall or not.

  • Recall is a valued and strong part of the democracies of the USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many other democracies around the world.

I hate 38 Degrees – therefore I hate this bill

  • Consider the bill on its merits – it proposes a desperately needed improvement to our democracy that would re-engage people and lead to far better dialogue and interaction between people and politicians.

  • The bill has wide support, for example from citizens organisations such as Unlock Democracy and the Taxpayers Alliance.

The recall proposed by 38 Degrees would cost £100 million pounds a time

  • This is an unexplained figure put forward by the Lib Dems and makes the outlandish assumption that every single one of the 650 constituencies in the UK would seek to recall their MP. This would mean over 10 million people signing respective recall petitions across the UK – bear in mind that the biggest UK petition ever raised was on Post Office closures in 2006 which collected 4 million signatures.

A recall bill like the one proposed by 38 Degrees would destabilise democracy

  • the point of representative democracy is that we trust our MPs judgement, even if sometimes we disagree

  • Absolutely, but there are also some rare moments when we and a majority of our fellow constituents may be utterly incensed by something our MP has done – e.g. misclaiming tens of thousands of pounds of public money in expenses to pay for a second (or third!) house. In such situations the right for us to attempt to recall our MP would strengthen our democracy.

  • Recall would not stop our democracy being representative. Recall does not turn representatives into delegates (only a comprehensive system of citizens initiated referenda could do that). MPs would be free to act as they saw best and the extensive checks and balances of our recall bill ensure that it could not be abused.

  • This kind of bill would lead to MPs being populist and short term in their thinking – instead of doing what’s right for the country.

  • This assumes what constituents want is not right for the country. But democracy allows us to vote for our MPs which assumes we do know what is right for the country.

  • In democracies around the world that have recall (USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many others) it does not cause short term thinking but rather strengthens the dialogue and communication between representatives and voters.

  • Governments with a small minority could be brought down by the use of a recall bill – no stability which is necessary for good governance

  • In over one hundred years of recall existing in the USA this has never happened and our recall bill has more checks and balances against abuse than the recall used there.

  • In democracies around the world that have recall (USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many others) recall is used because of misconduct of individual representatives or specific policy issues that affect local areas and local people.

Needing 5%/20% of the electorate to sign a petition to trigger recall is too low – 20% would vote to recall an MP based only on party loyalties and no MP has the support of 80% of their constituents.

  • This misunderstands the process in our bill. 20% of constituents are required on the recall petition that would trigger the recall referendum. At the referendum a majority of constituents would need to vote to actually recall the MP. Note: most MPs do not have the support of a majority of their constituents at general elections.

Needing 20% of the electorate to sign a petition to trigger recall is too high – the Governments 10% threshold is better

  • There is a risk that the 10% threshold could be abused. Extensive analysis of use of recall in the democracies that have it around the world (USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many others) shows this.

Real recall doesn’t close the loophole on imprisoned MPs

  • Indeed, and this is intentional. MPs may have been imprisoned for reasons that constituents do not support. For example for protesting against a new local road or power station.

The returning officer has too much power

  • The returning officer’s power is nothing more than administrative and functional. It is necessary to have an unbiased official empowered to conduct the recall process if constituents wish to use it.

Here’s a few ideas for some sticky questions that might put your MP on the spot

If we trust people to reason when voting for you at election time why would you not trust them to reason between elections?

Why would you not be wildly supportive of this? If you think you’re a good MP you’ve got nothing to be afraid of. Real recall would even strengthen your mandate – so on that basis why would you not want to support it?

Dozens of other democracies around the world have voter-driven recall – the USA, Canada, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc etc. Don’t you think it’s time we moved forward and caught up with these countries?

Recall has proved that it engages people in politics and democracy in the dozens of countries that have it, like the USA, Germany and Canada. Why would you not support something that re-engaged people at a time when it is so desperately needed in our country?

Some MPs might already be on-side 

For those MPs, it’s important to make sure that they have signed the amendments. But you can also discuss with them other ways that they can get involved. For example, they could speak to their colleagues and ask them to back the amendments too.  Or they could encourage their party leaders to back the changes. They could also write to the local paper.

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TTIP day of action: Local press resources

October 7th, 2014 by

Can you help spread the word about the TTIP day of action to your local press? It’s easy and quick to do, and it’ll make sure even more people near you find out about this dangerous trade deal.

You can either send a press release, with the details of what’s going on near you, or a letter to the editor, to express your concerns about TTIP.

There’s a template press release and a letter to the editor below. Just copy them and fill in the parts in brackets to make them relevant to your area. Then you can send either one to your local paper by clicking this link:

You could also find the details of your local radio station online and send them a copy of the press release too.

Template press release

Embargo: for immediate release

[YOUR AREA] people set to take to the streets against ‘dangerous pact’ with US
Locals ask MEPs to protect the NHS from secretive trade pact

Local people will gather this Saturday at [YOUR AREA] to take part in a day of action against an international trade deal which they say could put the NHS at risk.

The campaigners, members of campaign group 38 Degrees, will be asking local MEPs where they stand on the controversial trade deal between the EU and US.

The agreement – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – would force the NHS open to competition from American private healthcare providers. The deal is also set to allow multinational businesses to sue the government if British laws dent their profits.

Critics say this would expose the government to lawsuits if it tried to take privatised health services back into public ownership.

More than 180,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees petition against the deal.

The event in [YOUR AREA] coincides with a Europe-wide day of action to increase pressure on the EU to fix or scrap the pact.

It follows a local protest in [LOCATION OF THE LAST DAY OF ACTION] this August, when campaigners from [YOUR AREA] joined 10,000 people nationwide to collect signatures for the 38 Degrees petition against the deal.



David Babbs, executive director at 38 Degrees, says: “It’s no surprise that thousands of people are taking to the streets again against this terrible deal. 38 Degrees members are spreading the word to force TTIP out of backroom negotiations and into the spotlight.

“The NHS is being used as a bargaining chip in a decision made behind closed doors. It’s time for MEPs to answer our concerns and explain exactly what they’re going to do to stop this.”


Notes to editors

1. With 3 million members, 38 Degrees is one of the UK’s biggest campaigning organisations. 38 Degrees brings you together with other people to take action on the issues that matter to you and bring about real change in the UK.

2 . Members of the public can sign up to take part in the day of action on the 38 Degrees website: http://ttipaction.38degrees.org.uk/

Template letter to editor

Dear Sir/ Madam,

This Saturday I’ll be out in [YOUR AREA] taking part in the Europe-wide day of action against TTIP – a dangerous international trade deal that’s a threat to our NHS. I’ll be standing with 10,000 members of campaigning group 38 Degrees also taking action across the UK.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, could force the NHS open to competition from American private health care providers. The pact would also let American businesses sue the government if British laws dent their profits – for example, if it tried to bring privatised health services back into public ownership.

I’m against any pact that could damage our NHS so deeply.


Other concerned residents of [YOUR AREA] can join me at [INCLUDE HERE THE TIME AND PLACE THAT YOU ARE MEETING]. Together we will gather signatures for the national petition against the deal and help to spread the word about how we can work together to stop it.

Yours sincerely,


Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Saving Hertfordshire’s buses

October 7th, 2014 by

Terry, a 38 Degrees member from Hertfordshire, is campaigning to stop cuts to bus services in the area. The council is threatening to cut many services on weekday evenings, and to slash some services completely on Sundays.

38 Degrees members in Hertfordshire chipped in together to fund a ‘protest’ van that has taken to the streets over the last few days to spread the word about the threat to local bus services.

Terry will be handing his petition directly to Hertfordshire County Council tomorrow (Wednesday October 8th). If you live in the area, why not join him for the hand-in?

Here’s what Terry said:
“I set up this petition to empower bus passengers and make their voices heard, and to show Hertfordshire County Council the damaging effects that the proposed cuts will have on people’s lives.

“Many people like me rely on buses as part of their daily life. Cutting this bus route will severely restrict my ability to travel and will affect my quality of life.”

Check out the pictures of the ‘protest’ van below:

Photo credit: James Chisolm

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Recall: amendments to the Government’s plans

October 7th, 2014 by

The expenses scandal, big money lobbying, cash for questions. MPs should work for voters, but it’s clear that some don’t.  It’s time that voters got the power to sack bad MPs in-between elections.

Our people-powered ‘recall’ law will do just that. So over the last few weeks our lawyer, funded by small donations from thousands of 38 Degrees members, and alongside some MPs, has written some amendments based on our people-powered law.

These amendments aim to fix the government’s cop-out plans for recall. In the coming weeks we’ll need to get as many MPs as possible to vote and sign up to support them.

Click here to read the amendments in full.

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Update: Westminster – Keep your promises to Scotland

October 3rd, 2014 by

Together a whopping 105,000 members of 38 Degrees have signed the petition calling on Westminster to honour its promise of giving more powers to Scotland.

It’s been an exciting week for the campaign, the Daily Record splashed the petition across its front page. Nicola Sturgeon from the Scottish National Party, Johann Lamont from the Scottish Labour Party and even Gordon Brown have backed the petition.

In less than 2 weeks time, Westminster MPs will start to debate the next steps for Scotland. 38 Degrees members will be taking the petition down and delivering it to each of the Westminster leaders just before the debate. The more signatures we collect, the more powerful our united voice sounds to those debating Scotland’s future.

Lots of 38 Degrees members are hitting the streets in the next week or so to collect more signatures for the petition. If you want to do the same, a petition form to print and collect signatures for the campaign can be downloaded here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/promises-petition-sheet


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TTIP: European Day of Action

October 3rd, 2014 by

Right now, big businesses are quietly persuading the government to sign one of the most dangerous trade deals you may never have heard of - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP for short.

It’s a deal between the US and the EU that would make privatisation of our services like the NHS and National Rail irreversible. It’ll also allow big corporations to sue our government if it makes changes to the law which affect businesses’ profits – like raising the minimum wage.

TTIP is being negotiated behind closed doors. But thanks to 38 Degrees members the secrecy around it has finally been lifted. We took to the streets in our thousands a few weeks ago. And now, finally, the media and politicians have started to talk about it – openly.

But now we need to take the fight against TTIP straight to the people who have the power to scupper it. On Saturday 11th October, people all across Europe will be standing together to send a strong message to the people who represent us in Europe – our MEPs. From Germany to France, Italy to Spain – will you stand with them?

The plan in the UK is simple. Thousands of 38 Degrees members will take to the streets. We’ll meet up and hand out leaflets together explaining MEPs’ stances on TTIP; and tell people to get in touch with them and put them under pressure.

Are you free on Saturday 11th October?

Things are finally happening. But together we need to keep up the pressure. MEPs, our representatives in Europe, have heard almost nothing about it from the people they represent. If they start feeling the heat, we could up the pressure in Brussels even more.

When you sign up, you’ll be able to see who else in your area is taking part. There’ll be information about where and when to meet, and you’ll even get to chat online to other members to iron out any problems. You’ll get leaflets to hand out and further information through in the post.

Together, we can warn even more people about the dangers of TTIP. We can show MEPs that we won’t stand for this dangerous trade deal. Can you join us on the streets on Saturday 11th October?

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Victory in Portsmouth

October 3rd, 2014 by

Campaigns by You is a part of the 38 Degrees website where anyone can start a campaign on the issue close to their heart.  Across the country thousands of members are battling to make the UK a fairer, more democratic and more sustainable place.

Simon a 38 Degrees member from Portsmouth started a campaign to make his daughters’ walk to school safer.  He wanted Portsmouth council to install a pedestrian crossing at a dangerous junction which school children had to cross each day.

After starting his petition, he spread the word with friends and family and gradually build up a groundswell of local support.

Eventually he got enough signatories to trigger a debate at his local council once he handed in the petition.

Last week the council meeting took place, and Simon got to present his case.  Watch this short video to see what happened next:

Simon said “We’ve done it! I attended the council meeting yesterday, and they’ve finally agreed to install this much needed, and long overdue pedestrian crossing after 5 years! It couldn’t have been done without you, thank you to all of you!”

What would you like to change? Is your local library under threat? Would you like to see more recycling where you live? Perhaps there’s a national issue that you think needs addressing?

Click here to get your campaign off the ground in a matter of minutes, then with a little work, just like Simon you could win your campaign too!


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A real recall law: Event at Liberal Democrat conference

October 2nd, 2014 by

Here are the details of the 38 Degrees event on a Real Recall law at Liberal Democrat Party Conference:

Real Recall: a better democracy
Tuesday 7th October
20:00 – 21:00
Alsh 2, The SECC, Glasgow

The panel includes Mark Pack, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire, Andy Silvester of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, and Dr Evan Harris, former MP for Oxford West. Laura Townshend from the 38 Degrees office team will also be speaking.


The expenses scandal, big money lobbying, cash for questions. MPs should work for voters, but it’s clear that many don’t. It’s time that voters got the power to sack bad MPs in between elections.

The 38 Degrees people-powered recall law will do just that – and MPs will soon be voting on it. But first, we need to get them onside. On Tuesday at the Liberal Democrat party conference the office team are hosting an event to get MPs – and the people who want to be our MPs – on board.

Liberal Democrats are hesitant about giving voters these powers. But to get elected, MPs need to show they’re listening to their voters – not the ‘party machine’. So let’s use people-power to fill the room. Can you send your MP an emailing asking them along now – and to see where they stand?

We’ve only got a couple of days until the event, please click here to ask your MP or candidate to go along now – and to see where they stand.

MPs and candidates say they want to build trust in politicians. If that’s true, they need to give us the power to hold any bad-apple MP to account. A ‘recall’ law is within our grasp. But getting as much support as possible from within Lib Dem ranks is vital. Their votes and the pressure they can bring could be what wins this.

The line-up of speakers at the event is full of people that Liberal Democrats will listen to. Mark Pack, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire, is on the panel, so’s Dr Evan Harris, a former Lib Dem MP for and Andy Silvester from the TaxPayer’s Alliance.

38 Degrees members have persuaded Liberal Democrats to act against the government before. Thousands of us asked our MPs to scrap the Hospital Closure Clause. A crucial handful of Lib Dem MPs stuck their necks out – and tipped the balance! Together, let’s do the same again.

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