Restrictions on campaigning in the pre-election period
8 November 2019
The Federation has updated its briefing on the restrictions on campaigning and lobbying activity that apply in relation to the 2019 general election. This briefing should not be considered legal advice – it is intended only as guidance.
The briefing provides:
- an outline of what the Lobbying Act regulates
- guidance around what to consider when deciding whether your organisation needs to register with the Electoral Commission
- advice on how to register if necessary.
Below we have also answered some frequently asked questions about pre-election period restrictions.
What is the pre-election period?
The pre-election period (sometimes referred to as purdah) is a period before all elections that take place in the UK. This year, the pre-election period will take place from 6 November, until the general election on 12 December.
What does this mean for what we can say publically?
The aim of the restrictions around the pre-election period are to regulate attempts to influence the voting public.
If you are not registered with the Electoral Commission, any written materials (such as newsletters or website and social media content) published should not be reasonably deemed as intended to influence people to vote a certain way. This includes any calls you make for advancing policies that are very clearly advocated or opposed by a particular political party or candidate.
Residents are likely to count as ‘the public’ under these rules, but this should not prevent you from encouraging your tenants to vote, if you wish to do so.
Can I contact local candidates or organise events during this time?
Yes. The pre-election period should not prevent housing associations from organising events such as hustings, or inviting a candidate to visit a scheme – in fact, we would encourage you to do this.
What you must do is conduct this engagement in a way that avoids any implication of supporting or opposing any particular candidate or party.
A simple way to achieve neutrality is to ensure all candidates who are running for election in a constituency are invited to events.