Charities and other campaign groups fear they could be gagged by red tape during the general election campaign.
Groups like Greenpeace like to make their voice heard during elections. But they face strict rules on what they can spend money on for the year before an election. They had been working on the basis that an election would be held in 2020 – but the announcement of a snap election in June has raised concerns they will not be able to comply with the rules. This has meant that they will have to declare their spending retrospectively over the last year if they want to campaign, creating a huge amount of work at short notice.
The Electoral Commission says registered “non-party” campaign groups must provide information on all their “regulated campaign activity,” money spent and donations for the 12 months between 9 June 2016 and 8 June’s polling day.
But campaigners argue that the rules on what counts as party political campaigning – which is banned by lobbying legislation – and campaigning about issues, which is allowed, are vague and confusing.