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The Convention: Never Again

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Emmanuel Centre

9-23 Marsham Street

London

SW1P 3DW

United Kingdom

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NEVER AGAIN

How we protect British democracy from social media and dark money.

The danger is present and becomes ever more clear. Dark Money, foreign influence and corrosive social media have combined to destabilise the UK’s political system and rock the world’s oldest democracy.

The Convention meets in London on June 4th to review the numerous unpunished scandals and ask what it takes for Britain to comply with the Rule of Law and defend its democracy for future generations.

How do we update our laws to guard against the abuse witnessed in the 2016 Referendum and European Elections? What measures are needed to control the worst aspects of social media?

With over forty speakers, ranging from the former President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, to Carole Cadwalladr, the Observer journalist who uncovered the Facebook scandal, this six-hour event is a vitally important intervention.

Leading investigators, thinkers and politicians will call time on the sharp decrease of public trust in the electoral system and politics. And they will question the role of the mainstream media, which has such a vital part to play in holding authorities to account and the maintenance of the Rule of Law.

Held at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster, on the day the Withdrawal Agreement Bill returns to parliament and halfway through President Trump’s state visit, there could not be a better moment to focus on the future of our democratic system.

As one candidate for the Democrat nomination in the US said recently, “We are living through one of those blank pages in between chapters of history. What comes next could be ugly – or it could be amazing.”

That’s true of Britain: it’s our job, in this time of confusion and upheaval, to make sure we don’t preside over the irreversible decline of our democracy and the Rule of Law.

Join us on June 4th (2–8.30pm) at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster, London SW1P 3DW.


The event is divided into three equal sections:


Part I


We review the numerous scandals that emerged from the 2016 EU referendum. There are eleven separate investigations and multiple allegations of wrongdoing, but no criminal charges so far. It is said that the Police are reluctant to pursue their inquiries because of political sensitivities, but if electoral laws can be broken with impunity, where does that leave democracy and Britain’s reputation for the Rule of Law? How can the public trust future elections, if alleged abuses on spending and personal data go unchecked?


With key investigators like Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer and the OpenDemocracy reporting team, we will examine the money spent in the 2016 campaign and, more recently, the secretly financed social media strategy promoting a No Deal Brexit. Did funds come from the US, or can they be sourced to Russia? One thing is certain: under Britain’s current electoral laws, there’s nothing to stop Vladimir Putin or far right American billionaire Robert Mercer donating millions to any British campaign – as long as they do so outside the Electoral Commission’s period of controlled spending.

Part II


Social media has had a devastating impact on the tone and quality of the political debate in the UK. The rise of fake news, bullying and intolerance are directly linked to the use of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But there’s arguably a more sinister aspect to social media use. As revealed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the investigations of Parliament’s DCMS committee, social media is being used to manipulate the electorate and swing the result of votes that are vital to Britain’s future.


The performance of the Mainstream Media. In the three years since the EU referendum, there’s been a striking reluctance in the mainstream media to cover the many scandals concerning the abuse of social media and illegal spending. This is in contrast to UK media’s American counterparts, which have unwaveringly held the Trump administration to account. In the UK, there are notable exceptions, but the trend is to overlook stories that are deemed politically radioactive. We ask why the media has been so slow to hold politicians and authorities to account and whether this reluctance is directly related to the failure of the Rule of Law.


Part III

The last section deals with the wide-ranging reforms needed to ensure that Britain’s politics will never again become prey to outside forces that wish to harm our society and democracy. It will be opened by a major intervention by the former President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, and sessions will include contributions from leading politicians about the future of democracy.


We ask whether we need a full-scale inquiry into the events of 2016, and what steps need to be taken to control social media in the run-up to elections. Should social media ads be banned? Is a register of all spending on social media – via credit card details – now required? How can big tech companies support liberal democracy, or are they indifferent to the attacks carried out on their platforms? And is Britain’s Electoral Commission fit for purpose? What powers and resources are needed to protect our democracy as the threats become more and more sophisticated?




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Date and Time

Location

Emmanuel Centre

9-23 Marsham Street

London

SW1P 3DW

United Kingdom

View Map

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Refunds up to 7 days before event

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