Vote-OK are a group of
political activists which were active in the United Kingdomgeneral election of 2005and have grown into a strong lobby group since then.
The group stands as a single issue lobby group and is a Registered Recognised Third Party, one of only 11 in the country, but this does not make it a Political Party. Its main aim is to galvanise and organise more people to get involved in political campaigning in order to defeat any
Members of Parliamentwhich voted in favour of the Hunting Act 2004. Their tactic was to aid other candidates in any constituency where the sitting MP supported a ban in order to bring about a government that will repeal the current ban on hunting in favour of workable animal welfare legislation. This usually meant supporting the Conservative Party candidate. They did not focus efforts in campaigning against the fox hunting ban itself but provided extra volunteers during the campaigning stage of the election. They became involved in telephone canvassing, leafleting and other activities as required.
Vote-OK is a group of active campaigners co-ordinating support in marginal constituencies. Vote-OK head office consists of half a dozen people supporting Vote-OK Directors allocated to target constituencies. Liaising closely with the local candidate, the Directors role is to organise volunteers in the most effective way.Vote-OK is independent and are working with Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru Candidates.
The catalyst for the formation of Vote-OK was the ban on hunting and especially Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael's remark: "...if people wish to continue their opposition to legislation, they have the option of the ballot box through which to express their views."Thousands of people were directly and indirectly affected by this legislation. Organised and deployed across the 139 marginal seats where the sitting MP supported the ban, Vote-OK will enable those people to campaign to the greatest effect.Many people, who have no interest or connection with hunting, have seen the potential of the help that Vote-OK volunteers can offer. Vote-OK is tapping into a strong feeling across the country that a failure in the democratic process has allowed the Government to use its power to pass legislation - not just on hunting - that flies in the face of evidence, integrity and tolerance.The ban on hunting was the catalyst but it is not the cause. Campaigning in the constituencies will be led by the candidate and will be based on the national and local issues that matter to the people in those constituencies.
They targeted 139 seats (out of a total of 646 contested in the election).After the election the group claimed to have helped defeat 29 MPs as well as reducing the majorities of 21 anti-hunting MPs to under 3%, although anti-hunt groups such as
Save Our Wild Animalsdismissed this claim as "ludicrous". Members of Parliamentwho they have claimed to have helped defeat include David Rendel(Liberal Democrat) of Newbury, Peter Bradley(Labour) of The Wrekin who was the Parliamentary Private Secretaryof Alun Michael, the minister in charge of handling the ban, and Helen Clark (Labour) of Peterborough. It is difficult, however, to separate out such local swings from the national swing in the election.
Significant local campaigning by hunt supporters contributed to the defeat of 29 anti-hunting former MPs. 3.4 million leaflets were delivered, 2.1 million envelopes hand-addressed 55,000 posters erected and 170,000 campaigning man hours provided in a nationally co-ordinated initiative.
Charles Mann, Vote-OK national campaign director, said, "29 anti hunting MPs out, and 21 left with tiny majorities to get next time - this has been a good success for those that believe that the current ban on hunting is ineffective and an important boost for the volunteers who have participated in the campaign.
"With only 6 weeks preparation and no previous experience thousands of hunt supporters have been organised to campaign on a substantial and hitherto unseen level in modern politics. As a result they have shown that when enough people get involved in politics with a purpose and in an organised and focussed way they can, and have, made a difference."
This has been the rehearsal, at the next election we will help ensure that this potent force is enabled to play an even greater role in securing an early repeal to the ban on hunting"
Pressure groups in the United Kingdom
* [http://www.vote-ok.co.uk/ Official website]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/hunt/Story/0,2763,1473778,00.html The Guardian: "Hunt lobby in covert bid to oust Labour MPs"]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/hunt/Story/0,2763,1479431,00.html The Guardian: "Hunt backers claim scalps of 29 MPs"]
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