Anyone is allowed to publish and distribute non-party election campaign material, including:
As a grass-roots DIY election campaigner, there is just one law that you need to follow.
It's easy! We want to de-mystify election law, and make participation in election campaigning more accessible without a political party.
We separate out what you really need to know from all the other legal stuff that won't affect you.
We tell you right here how to set up your own DIY anti-Tory campaign 100% legally.
You don't need to register...
You or your group do not need to register with anyone as a campaigner to get started and do it! Anyone, or any group, can do DIY campaigning and make a difference!
You would only have to register with the Electoral Commission (elections watchdog) if you were planning to spend:
- more than £20,000 in England
- more than £10,000 in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
So if you're up for this, but you're neither really rich nor a stupendous pro fundraiser, you are considered a "minor campaigner". [See more from Electoral Commission...]
As a minor campaigner spending under £20,000 (or £10,000, as above), you are allowed to accept all donations from anybody.
Legal limits per constituency
You or your group can spend up to £9,750 campaigning against the Tories in a single constituency.
Whether you are unregistered or registered, you must not spend more than this in one constituency. [See more from Electoral Commission including definitions...]
In other words, you're good to go... Just one main legal thing to observe!
- £10 on your own Facebook ads,
- £85-£105 on your own box of 5,000 flyers of your choice to distribute where you live, or
- maybe even a bit more than this after a fundraising action,
...you're good to go!!
There is just one thing you must do, so keep reading...
The one requirement: the "election imprint"
All anti-Tory flyers, and paid Facebook ads, are defined as "regulated material" during the "regulated period" of a General Election campaign. So, there is one point of law that you must follow.
What you must get printed on every leaflet
Election law requires every election leaflet "that can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against a political party or a category of candidates" to carry an "imprint". Here is an example of an imprint on a party leaflet:
While the "Printed by" name will be the name of the print firm, the "Promoted by" name must be a person's name.
If you order from a printer and pay for your own box of leaflets, simply using template artwork from this website or elsewhere, you are the promoter of those leaflets.
This means that you have to print your name on every flyer together with a postal address through which you can be contacted. This is the law.
If you don't feel ready to print your own name on thousands of anti-Tory flyers, that's very understandable. But do you maybe have a colleague, friend, relative etc who might be willing to act as promoter instead?
- This just means their name and payment details would go on your order at the printers instead of yours.
- The promoter doesn't have to be personally involved in distributing the flyers once they've been printed.
The many alternative options to publishing your home address
The promoter's address you print on the flyers does not have to be anyone's home address!
The intention is, to quote the Electoral Commission, "to ensure that there is transparency about who is campaigning... There is no requirement for an imprint address to be a home address, as long as it is somewhere the person can be contacted."
So, it could be an office address... but there are other choices too.
Not got an office? Don't want to use your home address?
You do not have to use an office address either! (Although for some people this may be handy.)
What other addresses do you have where you "can be contacted"? There is no legal definition in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 of an "address"...
- So it doesn't need to be somewhere you normally receive post.
- Clearly, it does need to be somewhere you can genuinely be traced through, in the unlikely event of the Electoral Commission investigating your flyers.
- This means somewhere the people answering an enquiry at the address you've given know you and have your details, or can look you up.
- Don't give the address of somewhere where they've never heard of you!
Here are some ideas...
- A PO Box you own or access [see confirmation this is legal]
- Your university, college or school address
- Address of a community centre you're involved with
- Address of a trade union office you're involved with
- Address of a club you belong to (obviously not if that's someone else's home address!)
- Address of a campaign group you're involved with (ditto)
If you're putting a group's address, you should omit the name of the group, unless you're acting on behalf of the group with its full agreement. Just give the street address where an official enquiry could (in theory) be made about you.
Don't have a suitable address? Do you have a relative, friend or colleague that can help you with a non-residential address at which you can be contacted?
On all printed material, don't forget to include the name and address of your printing firm too.
Old laws in our social media age: Imprinting on social media
However, the Electoral Commission do regulate social media expenditure. On social media imprinting, they use very different language to their stern "musts" regarding imprinting all printed material. They state that "as good practice" you "should" make an imprint available on social media posts where practicable.
This is most important for Facebook paid ads, as the Electoral Commission is mostly concerned with monitoring and regulating expenditure. If you are running a Facebook page publishing paid anti-Tory ads, you can first:
- place your imprint at the bottom of the "long" version of your page's description on the About page, or
- provide a link through to a website where your imprint is available somewhere,
You don't need a "Printed by..." entry on social media. Just complete "Promoted by..." the same way as above.
"Joint campaigning" laws - why they don't apply to this project
There are separate legal restrictions on expenditure on "joint campaigning" by different non-party campaigners.
Electoral Commission guidance recognises that it's often not a black-and-white issue whether different non-party campaigners are in fact campaigning jointly. However, they say:
"In our view, you are not working together if:
- you have informal discussions with other campaigners that do not involve decision-making or coordinating your plans
- you speak at an event organised by another campaigner, but do not participate in any other way
- you do not consult with other campaigners about what you should say in your campaign or how you should organise it."
What stopthetories.nationbuilder.com is doing is informally raising awareness, via digital media, of the opportunities for non-party campaigning. We are not "planning" any expenditure that you might decide to make, after reading this website. We are not telling you how you must campaign - we are simply publishing digitally some guides and template artwork, on an anti-copyright basis. You may choose to make any use of our materials you yourself wish, and you may modify them or recreate them in any way you wish.
Stop the Tories 2017 and #StopTheTories are not organisations, nor are they affiliated with any organisations. There is not really any "organising" going on here in the conventional sense; this website and the social media channels are just a freelance publishing project. There will be no pooling of budgets between different campaigners and no joint orders.
#GE17 is clearly the biggest social media election ever. It's entirely fair that we, as ordinary citizens, are able to harness the power of social media. We may be up against the BBC and the Tory press, but our opportunities to #ChangeTheDebate are huge!
How to get started
Electoral Commission links
Want to check out the election laws and official guidance directly for yourself? We've given you enough information to get started with, but if you're looking for more info or detail, here are the most relevant briefings directly from the Electoral Commission:
Key briefing for DIY campaigners
- The Electoral Commission, Factsheet for non-party campaigners: Election material and imprints – Great Britain
Other relevant briefings for DIY campaigners
- The Electoral Commission, Overview of regulated non-party campaigning
- The Electoral Commission, Joint campaigning for non-party campaigners (we explained above why this is unlikely to apply to this project)
Attention any potential big spenders or super-fundraisers: Here are essential extra links for anyone who might hit the £9,750 constituency spending limit, or the £20,000/£10,000 national registration thresholds. [Read more...]
This webpage is a good-faith guide to legal issues, but is not written by a lawyer and does not represent not formal legal advice.
The Electoral Commission run an advice line on 0333 103 1928.
stopthetories.nationbuilder.com observes, informs on, and obeys election law. We are NOT suggesting that anyone distributes any printed election materials without a correct legal imprint. We do not condone, and will not defend any criminal or civil consequences of, any reader of this website using the site's resources in any act of breaking electoral law.