LCHR’s volunteers

The Labour Campaign for Human Rights is a small, not-for-profit organisation. In the past, we have been fortunate to benefit from some funding that allowed us to take on paid campaigners, including a paid intern. However, we are presently a voluntary group only, meaning we’re run entirely by volunteers. Our organisation also began this way.
 
We offer opportunities for people who want to get involved in political campaigning to contribute to our activities on a voluntary basis. Such opportunities are designed to be carried out in their spare time, and most of our volunteers work jobs, internships, or study while contributing to our campaigns as and when they can. All volunteers are free to come and go as they please, contributing as much or as little as they wish for whatever period of time they want. Though our adverts often note that 2-3 hours per week is a typical contribution, this isn’t binding and many contribute less or more depending on their own time and preferences. All volunteers contribute remotely, except for any meetings or events they wish to attend. Sometimes, we look for volunteers who are interested in particular kinds of activities, such as digital campaigning or grassroots activism, and we advertise for specific voluntary roles on this basis. However, these roles are governed by the same flexible approach as above. None of our voluntary roles carry the promise of future employment. We do not offer any form of unpaid employment.
 
The political blog, Guido Fawkes, published an article on 4 June that claimed the Labour Campaign for Human Rights is using unpaid interns to aid our campaigning activities. This article conflates the issue of unpaid internships – unpaid, structured work akin to employment – with genuine political engagement carried out as a spare-time activity. There are thousands of clubs, societies, charities, blogs, and small campaigning groups like ours that are run mostly or entirely by volunteers. Political parties also benefit from thousands of volunteers who want to make a contribution in the world of politics. These voluntary activities are vital to our civic and political life and we defend them robustly as an essential feature of our participatory democracy, just as we robustly oppose unpaid employment.

Are you interested in leading LCHR?

LCHR’s longstanding Chair and Executive Director, Andrew Noakes, is standing down from the day-to-day running of LCHR in June. We are now searching for someone to replace him as head of our organisation, occupying the position of Chair. This is a voluntary role to be carried out in the successful candidate’s spare time.

The Chair will lead on all aspects of LCHR’s work, including strategy, campaigning, policy, organisational tasks, and fundraising. They will be free to appoint their own committee of volunteer officers to assist them in these areas.

This is a rare opportunity to take the helm of a well-known and effective human rights organisation that campaigns for change within and beyond the Labour Party.

Please note, the successful candidate will receive mentoring from LCHR’s board of directors to help them understand their role and responsibilities.

To apply, please send your CV and cover letter to Andrew Noakes at andrew.noakes@lchr.org.uk. If you have any questions about the role prior to applying, you’re also welcome to email these over.

The deadline for applications is 7 June.

Please note: as a voluntary role, the hours for this position are flexible and the successful candidate will be free to fit the role around their other responsibilities.

Standing down from LCHR

A message from our founder and Executive Director, Andrew Noakes:

Dear friends,

I’m writing to let you know that I’ll be standing down as Executive Director of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights at the end of this month.

It’s been my honour to lead this organisation since its inception five years ago. Back then, we were just a handful of volunteers looking to get involved in the Labour Party and make a difference for human rights. I never imagined that, five years later, LCHR could be what it is now. I’m proud of everything we’ve achieved.

It’s time for someone new to take LCHR forward, reinvigorating our organisation with new leadership and new ideas. My successor will be appointed by the board of directors after an open recruitment and selection process. Look out for the advert in the next few days. I will continue to serve on the board of directors for an interim period to ensure a smooth transition.

Thanks for all your support over the last five years, and here’s to many more years of LCHR flourishing and being a force for good.

Best,

Andrew Noakes

Alternatives to free movement

LCHR’s preference is for a post-Brexit immigration system based on free movement or a variation of free movement. However, if this proves impossible to attain, it will be vital for Labour to ensure the most damaging aspects of the current non-EU system are not foisted on EU nationals.

In our latest briefing, we explore the pitfalls of the current system and argue that any new system implemented for EU nationals arriving in the UK from January 2021 should not mirror it.

Would you like to join LCHR’s board of directors?

LCHR is now advertising for a new non-executive director to sit on our board. If you’re an LCHR member, or if you join before the deadline, you are eligible and welcome to apply.

Please view a description of the role here. Please note, this is an incredible opportunity to get involved in the running of LCHR, but it’s also a serious responsibility. Being a non-executive director carries legal responsibilities, which you can read more about here.

If you would like to apply, please send your CV and a cover letter to andrew.noakes@lchr.org.uk by the deadline (22 April). Candidates will be shortlisted, interviewed, and then appointed by the current board. We look forward to your application!

Concerns about Voter ID pilot

A guest blog by LCHR member, Dermot Mckibbin

The Government has announced that a pilot scheme will be set up to require voters to produce identification in the polling booth prior to voting. Local councils will decide on what is suitable identification, and if voters do not have the required identification they will not be able to vote. Postal votes will be unaffected.

Four pilot exercises will be conducted in Bromley (Conservative) Watford (Lib Dem), Woking, and Gosport (both Conservative).  After the pilots have been evaluated, a decision by the Government’s Cabinet Office will be taken whether to roll out the practice nationally or not.

It is not clear whether voters have to produce both photographic and non-photographic identification at the same time. No decision has been made about what type of identification is acceptable. The details have still to be worked out. It appears that the Cabinet Office will be involved in the decision-making process as a statutory instrument will be required.

The voter ID requirement was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2003. Turnout for the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections was 68.8% in 1998, 63.1% in 2003, 62.3% in 2007, 55.7% in 2011, 54.9% in 2016 and 64.8% in 2017. An Electoral Commission report on the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections fails to even consider whether the fall in voter turnout was due to the ID requirement issue.

The Electoral Reform Society is opposed to voter ID. 51.4 million votes were cast in 2015. There were 130 allegations of voting fraud and only 26 were for voter impersonation. This represents 0.00005% of the votes cast. The Government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

In the 2011 census, 9.5 million people stated that they had no passport, 9 million did not have a driving licence, and – in 2013/4 – 1.7 million did not have a bank account. Many of these people are likely to have low incomes.

There are some legal problems with the Government’s approach. The courts can scrutinise decisions made by Government via the process of judicial review. It may be that the courts would strike down this scheme as the decision is disproportionate to the problem it seeks to remedy. Challenges to government decisions in the courts via judicial review are an expensive business, though group funding can be successful.

By virtue of Article 3 of the First protocol in the European Convention of Human Rights, The United Kingdom undertakes to hold free elections. Strasbourg case-law has established that any interference with the implied right to vote must be proportionate. The European Council on Human Rights has a code of practice on electoral matters. Any deprivation of the right to vote must be subject to the principle of proportionality.

If Labour cannot change this policy in Parliament, progressive citizens should band together to fund raise to challenge this restriction on the right to vote in the courts.

Dermot Mckibbin
Beckenham CLP

Launching Fair & Free – LCHR & Fabian Society pamphlet

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new pamphlet on Labour, liberty and human rights published by the Fabian Society and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. Fair and Free includes essays by MPs, academics and human rights experts setting out a fresh vision of human rights and liberty.

With an introduction by shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti, the collection initiates a new debate on how to safeguard our freedoms in this era of uncertainty and polarisation.

In her contribution, Lisa Nandy MP argues that in future the role of governments must be to facilitate shared decision-making, not simply make those decisions themselves. “Without this, more complete democracy, the concept of democracy will continue to be contested and freedom will remain, as Janis Joplin once said, another word for nothing left to lose,” she writes. “Now that we have seen the disastrous political consequences that despair breeds, it would be criminal not to take heed.”

Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh MP argues against ‘mission creep’ on internet liberties, encryption and moves around facial recognition software. “Just as we hold the police accountable in their use of force, so must we do so in their use of data and any violation of our privacy,” she writes. “To do otherwise questions their legitimacy, which must absolutely be sustained as without it, we fail the fundamental test of the British model of policing – the ability to police by consent.”

The chapters are:

  • Dr Jason Brock, teaching fellow in intellectual history and history of political thought at Royal Holloway, University of London, writes on how Labour talks about liberty
  • Dr Andrew Fagan director of academic studies at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre writes on economic and social rights as human rights;
  • Frank Field Labour MP for Birkenhead and Andrew Forsey head of Frank Field’s parliamentary office revisit the ‘rights and responsibilities’ debate;
  • Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley and shadow policing minister writes on Labour and law and order;
  • Dr Laura Janes, legal director at the Howard League for Penal Reform, a charity that has no political affiliations writes on rights for all;
  • Virginia Mantouvalou, professor of human rights and labour law at University College London writes on human rights, work and exploitation;
  • Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan outlines a new vision of liberty
  • Andrew Noakes, director of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, asks what a post-Brexit immigration should look like;
  • Robert Sharp, head of campaigns at English Pen, an organisation which works to defend and promote freedom of expression writes on privacy, freedom of expression and human rights.

Robert Sharp, head of campaigns at English Pen, argues for stronger support for free speech and human rights at home and abroad. “Post-Brexit, the UK will be making dozens of new trade deals and will take on full responsibility for declaring what can be exported where,” he writes. “A Labour government can ensure that those trade deals are tied to support for free speech and human rights. Such a foreign policy will benefit everyone. But to make it work we need to get our own house in order first.”

Andrew Fagan, director of academic studies at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre, calls for economic and social rights to be put at the centre of the human rights debate. “Economic and social entitlements are not discretionary human rights. Thinking of oneself as a bearer of fundamental human rights is inherently empowering and fundamentally alters the terms of the social contract between the powerful and the powerless. From the perspective of human rights, the poor and the marginalised are not the ‘losers’ they are sometimes portrayed as, but human beings whose fundamental rights are being violated.”

We hope you enjoy the pamphlet!