I love an end of year list. The best movies, TV shows or the top 100 songs of 2018. But what have been the best campaigns of 2018?
In early 2019, we’ll be celebrating the best in British campaigning at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s National Campaigner Awards.
But if there was a best campaign category, what would get your vote?
Here are 4 that have stood out for me this year:
Jo Cox Commission to End Loneliness
Right back in January, the PM responded to the Commission’s manifesto by appointing Tracey Crouch (more of whom later) as the first ever Minister for Loneliness – who then led on a cross-Government strategy on the issue – as well as a dedicated fund to encourage solutions across all ages.
I guess the question is whether the new Minister and strategy will make a real difference (particularly after her resignation). But in terms of securing a high profile win of tangible, practical policy change, this campaign takes some beating.
Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s (MMHPI) Breathing Space campaign
Mental health has been one of the higher profile campaign issues in 2018 – arguably because the long term work done by campaigns like Time to Change to successfully shift public attitudes.
MMHPI may have the benefit of Martin Lewis as their founder and chair (and therefore do not have to worry about their profile), but they’ve been very effective at identifying specific changes that could be made by the government, regulators or businesses to make a difference to people with a mental health problem.
Their breathing space campaign called for a new law to give people a break of up to a year from new fees and charges on their debts. It smartly used Martin’s profile, the stories of people who were struggling with debt, and the support of cross party MPs to advance the campaign.
23 other organisations backed the campaign. And they mobilised the public – delivering 10,000 letters to the Chancellor to demonstrate the wider support they had.
By April, legislation had been amended – and MMHPI had their campaign win.
Stop the FOBTs
How many campaigns can you think of that have caused a Minister to resign in protest at the Government reneging on or delaying a commitment to act? Not many, I’d wager.
But clearly the Campaign for Better Gambling and others involved in the Stop the FOBTs campaign had done such a good job of getting the Minister, Tracey Crouch (yes, her again), onboard – that she felt she had no option but to resign when the chancellor delayed the cut in the stake for FOBTs.
And there can’t be many examples of such a resignation leading to the Government doing a u-turn and agreeing to reduce the stake on the original timescale after all.
The biggest campaign story of the year has to be plastics.
Clearly Blue Planet 2 accounts for a huge part of the surge of public, media and political interest in the issue. And campaigners who have been working on the issue for a long time – like Surfers against Sewage – tapped into this to press the government to ban plastic cotton buds, straws and drink stirrers – and to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme.
An unprecedented 162,000 people responded to the Treasury’s consultation on how tax can be used to reduce plastic waste.
BUT – the Chancellor also rowed back from a mandatory “latte levy” in this year’s Budget, disappointing green campaigners.
In the face of the IPCC’s recent report, there’s a big question for me about whether environmental campaigners are able to deliver the big shift needed to tackle the climate crisis that we’re facing.
But the campaigning on plastics has shown that environmental issues really can capture the public mood.
So which campaigns have I missed?
What about Scope’s Disability Gamechanger campaign – seeking to shift the dial on equality and fairness?
Or the campaign to stop fracking in Lancashire – particularly with its use of the law?
How about the campaign by Citizens Advice and others on bailiffs?
Or what about local campaigns? I’m a particular fan of two campaigns in my patch of south east London – the Save Dulwich Hamlet campaign (this Guardian Long Read on it is worth reading) and the Cinema for Crystal Palace Campaign.
I’d love to hear about other brilliant campaigns in 2018.
And it’s not too late to nominate campaigns for the National Campaigner Awards with nominations closing on 21st January.