NB: Mike Trace was appointed to the Council after a vacancy arose in 2019.
I have supported Unlock Democracy’s aims for many years, but only became a member earlier this year, having resolved to become more active in trying to do something about the current poor state of political discourse and institutions. Having done some ‘progressive alliance’ campaigning around the 2017 elections, I am in the process of setting up a local Unlock Democracy group, and think I can make a useful contribution through membership of the Council. There are two main reasons why I am asking for your support in this election:
Experience of running organisations:
Whatever its purpose, any organisation needs to be well governed – the peak body needs to be on top of the strategy and budget; look after the staff and volunteers; and stay in close contact with, and be responsive to the views of, the wider membership. A well-led organisation is much more likely to achieve its objectives.
I have a long track record of successful leadership – mainly in the charity sector, but also in advocacy organisations, and in government. I am currently Chief Executive of a large charity - employing over 400 staff and 150 volunteers - that works in the addiction recovery and criminal justice sector. In the last 10 years, I have also founded and led a world wide advocacy network that supports community level NGO’s in engaging and advocating with national governments and the United Nations on issues around drug policy. In these roles and others, I have contributed strategic thinking and leadership, allied with attention to the details of delivery and operations, a combination that I hope to bring to the work of the Council.
Experience of the political process:
Over the last 20 years, I have seen the UK political system up close – I have worked in senior positions in the UK government, with a further 3 years seconded to the European Union and United Nations, and have advised leaders of four of the Westminster parties in my specialist area, and on wider strategy. This ‘insider’ experience of the mechanics of our democracy has led me to the conclusion that it can (and should) work much better for ordinary people through changes to the way our representatives are chosen, the incentives they work to, and the scrutiny they are subject to. To paraphrase Malcolm Tucker’s final rant in ‘The Thick Of It’, too much of our political community has given up on transparency, honesty and service – too often preferring career advancement, deceit, and the influence of elites.
An organisation like UD has the right mission, and the potential breadth of influence, to swing the pendulum back towards a system that more explicitly works in the interests of ordinary people. I have my own views on how UD can organise its strategy, resources and communications to achieve this objective, but would welcome the opportunity to develop these discussions with members and the Council, and work with you to build a platform that changes the way our political institutions and leaders behave in the years to come.