Rather than remain involved in the murky world of party politics, the more I find out about 38 degrees and the people behind it, the more I like it.
38 Degrees is an independent British not-for-profit political-activism organisation that campaigns on a wide range of issues. It describes itself as “progressive” and claims to “campaign for fairness, defend rights, promote peace, preserve the planet and deepen democracy in the UK”. In October 2013, it was reported to claim 1.9 million UK members.
38 Degrees takes its name from the critical angle at which the incidence of a human-triggered avalanche is greatest.
The organisation launched on 26 May 2009. Its founders included Gordon Roddick, co-founder of The Body Shop and Henry Tinsley, ex-chairman of Green & Black’s fair trade chocolate. The organisation launched during the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal, and this formed the backdrop to early campaigns demanding voters were given more powers to sack MPs.
The founding Executive Director was David Babbs. Babbs was formerly Head of Activism at Friends of the Earth where he was responsible for the Big Ask Campaign. Babbs also previously worked at People & Planet.
At launch 38 Degrees said it was inspired by groups like MoveOn in the United States, GetUp! in Australia and Avaaz globally. These organisations all use the internet to mobilise people and connect them and their governments. 38 Degrees said that an organisation based on a similar model was needed in the UK.
In February 2014, Total Politics wrote: “For an organisation only set up in 2009, 38 Degrees has notched up its fair share of victories. It forced the coalition government’s first big U-turn, on the forests sell-off. It called for more free school meals – and Nick Clegg duly announced they were being rolled out for all infants. It raised enough cash to pay for the judicial review which successfully challenged health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to shut down key services at Lewisham hospital.”
It is not perfect and has its critics, but most of those are the predictable ones from the far right of the Conservative Party that I, for one, have no respect for at all. Their criticism is as sure a sign that they are on the right tracks and having an impact as you could possibly have.
Watch this video, and whether or not you are involved in a political party, consider supporting 38 degrees as force for good.