Mitzvah Day activity during a General Election

  1. Mitzvah Day regularly engages with elected politicians – particularly MPs – as a way of raising awareness of the importance and impact of faith-led social action. This activity is not overtly political – it does not seek to promote the interests of any one politician or party, nor does it seek to influence the policies of any party.
  2. In 2019, for the first time, Mitzvah Day falls during a General Election period. During an election period, the Charity Commission is clear that the need for impartiality and balance is intensified, and charities like Mitzvah Day must take particular care when undertaking any activities in the political arena. Crucially, there are no MPs – only Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs).
  3. Charities are often visited by parliamentary candidates as part of their election campaigning. This is permitted by charity law and Charity Commission guidance, which states that such visits are a good way for candidates to interact with the local community and for charities to draw attention to their cause – in our case, the importance of community cohesion, social action and volunteering. In order to maintain Mitzvah Day’s political neutrality, we need to ensure that hosting such visits does not endorse a particular candidate by giving them a platform.
  4. Mitzvah Day’s policy is, therefore, that – where the trustees, employees or volunteer coordinators at specific projects invite parliamentary candidates to events on or around Mitzvah Day – we should invite those from mainstream parties. By this, we mean the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrat Party, and the SNP in Scotland, and Plaid Cymru in Wales. Where a candidate was the sitting MP prior to the Election and a member of another party (for example, if they had chosen to leave a mainstream party during the last Parliament), they should also be invited. The Mitzvah Day office will contact the mainstream parties centrally to share that candidates may want to join Mitzvah Day activities.
  5. This does not mean that all parties have to be represented every time Mitzvah Day engages with political parties. Invites should be issued to each party, but it is up to candidates whether they choose to attend. As usual, Mitzvah Day will ensure that any material that we seek to promote to media outlets on or after Mitzvah Day balances representation of the mainstream parties.
  6. Where trustees, employees or volunteer coordinators of a Mitzvah Day project choose to endorse or promote a parliamentary candidate, they should be clear that they are doing so in a personal capacity.

 

If you have any questions about this guidance, please contact georgina@mitzvahday.org.uk.

For background information, the Charity Commission’s guidance on elections is available here .