The general election: advice for activists

The general election on 12 December will be one of the most challenging we have faced in the lifetime of the union.

The result will have far-reaching consequences on living standards for our members and the future of our public services.

We know, after years, of austerity, our members desperately need a better deal, and that’s why we’re encouraging activists like you to get out there, talking to members and the public, and convincing them to vote for real change.

Here are some things you can do.

Download our Campaign Guide, below, for more information.

1.     Keep austerity on the agenda.

When you’re talking to members or the public, remind them who is responsible for the cuts to public services.

The Conservatives think they can whitewash their record over the last nine years, but their cynical pre-election giveaways won’t fix the damage they have caused since 2010.

Labour is committed to investing in our public services, with bold policies to fix the damage years of cuts have inflicted on our public services and welfare system.

2.     Get your members registered and get them out to vote

We know from our research that UNISON is seen as a trusted voice on issues like jobs, pay and workers’ rights.

We need to make sure our members know that they can improve all these things by voting.  Remind your members to register, and encourage them to get out to vote on the day.

We have information about registering to vote, and a poster and postcards below. Or order hard copies from our online shop.

3.     Volunteer to help the Labour Party

UNISON is affiliated to the Labour Party, and this means we can input into their policies.

You could volunteer to help Labour’s campaign in your own time. You can find details of your local Labour group online, or ask your branch or region Labour Link rep. Among the activities you could get involved in are leafleting, canvassing, stuffing envelopes or calling voters.

4.     Think about local austerity issues

Have you or your branch been involved in a local campaign against cuts? Examples might include a campaign about a local library closure or against reduced NHS services.

Think about how you might reinvigorate a campaign during the election, e.g, by getting the key people involved to write to the local paper.

5.    Campaigning against the far-right

We work all year round with Hope Not Hate, and they will be active throughout the election period. See their website for ways to campaign.

A word about the Lobbying Act

Because of the Lobbying Act, the amount of money that we spend campaigning during the election is tightly regulated. It’s important that branches don’t:

  • Hold public rallies or hustings
  • Jointly branded election-related campaigns with a political party
  • Pay for staff time off related to election campaigning
  • Produce any materials related to the election unless it’s paid for by the union’s political fund.
  • Make any donations to any political party from branch funds during the election campaign.
  • Incur any costs, including benefits in kind, associated with the general election that haven’t been pre-approved for funding from either Labour Link or the Campaign Fund


Anything you do as a regular citizen in your own time does not count under the Lobbying act.

For more information see the campaign guide below.

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We’ll be adding more information, including the weekly campaign reports, and resources in the coming weeks