The Social Economy Alliance was set up in run up to the 2015 general election, bringing together hundreds of supporters to campaign for an economy that works in the interests of society. The Alliance was made up of a pioneering collaboration of social enterprises, cooperatives, social investors, housing association, social entrepreneurs and members of the public.
Our main aims were to influence the manifestos of the main UK political parties and build up support for the social economy through grass roots campaigning action and top level political engagement. Our ideas were sourced collectively, drawing on the expertise of our members meaning that we could bring forward social economy solutions to the most pressing issues faced by the country from housing and unemployment to public service reform and devolution.
Here are some of the highlights of our story so far:
The Social Economy Alliance Manifesto
We launched our manifesto with an iconic political face-swap advertising campaign which took over Westminster station just before party conference season. This was all part of our messaging stressing the need to take the best ideas from the left and right of politics and create economic and social policies which reinforce each other. Margaret Thatcher was crossed with Che Guevara, Boris Johnson revealed his inner Marxist and John Prescott was worryingly merged with Angela Merkel. The ad-campaign was entirely crowdfunded by the Alliance’s supporters.
The manifesto itself contained a series of policy measures on how we create a pro-social economy, empower communities, harness the buying power of the state, and encourage businesses to act more responsibly.
The launch was picked up by mainstream press including the Mirror, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Evening Standard, political press such as the New Statesman and The Spectator, and trade publications including Creative Review and Housing Excellence. This, in turn, led to a significant spike in people logging on to the Social Economy Alliance website and downloading materials.
The ad campaign helped significantly raised the profile of the Alliance amongst parliamentarians, leading to more recognition at our focused party conference events. We also held behind-the-scenes discussions with party manifesto leads.
The Social Economy Charter
Following the publication of our manifesto, the Alliance launched its Social Economy Charter a broad statement of support for the principles behind the social economy, which we asked our supporters to send to their prospective parliamentary candidates.
In total, there were 1565 contacts made by supporters with their candidates and 239 parliamentary candidates signed the Charter from across the political spectrum.
Upon publication of the main party manifestos we decided to wade through each one, take the best ideas from each and put them together in a Manifesto Mashup. The exercise allowed us to see whether our ideas were being picked up, as well as giving us a chance to see exactly which party had the most hard hats in their manifesto. In total, there were 95 mentions of social economy type policy suggestions in the main party manifestos.
The Alliance has proven that the sector is stronger together, can be bold in its ambition and communications, and can mobilise significant numbers and resources. We know that social economy solutions are needed now more than ever. The Brexit vote brought to sharp focus the inequalities and divisions in society with communities across the country voting against a political and economic system they feel has left them behind. Social enterprises, co-operatives, charities and community groups continue to change lives, shift markets and empower communities. The Alliance will keep on campaigning hard to support them.