How Organizations Campaign to Change the Law

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    • 00:01


    • 00:10

      SAM DICK: Hello.My name is Sam Dick and I'm directorof campaigns and communications at an organization calledDignity in Dying.This talk is aiming to give you an insight into howorganizations campaign to change the law.At Dignity in Dying, we're campaigningto change the law so that terminally ill people with less

    • 00:31

      SAM DICK [continued]: than six months to live can have the right to requesta doctor help them die.The reason we do this is because under the current law,it's illegal for anyone to assist someone else to endtheir own lives, even when that person is alreadyabout to die and die in horrific, agonizing

    • 00:51

      SAM DICK [continued]: circumstances.So we're campaigning to change that lawso that terminally ill people can request their doctor writethem a prescription so that they can havea painless and comfortable death,but also so that their loved ones can help themif they see fit and aren't liable to prosecution for being

    • 01:14

      SAM DICK [continued]: with them when they die.We believe that the current law is unfair,but it also drives people to end their livesin expensive and dangerous ways.So we know that hundreds of terminally ill peopleare ending their lives every year in the UK.But because they fear their loved ones will be prosecutedfor knowing about it, they do so alone

    • 01:37

      SAM DICK [continued]: and they often do so in dangerous waysby buying things such as illegal drugs online, whichare no guarantee of a painless, comfortable,and dignified death.I'm going to tell you the story of a man calledBob Cole because it's a very good example of why

    • 01:59

      SAM DICK [continued]: Dignity in Dying campaigns for a change in the law.Bob Cole was diagnosed with a horrific formof lung cancer called mesotheliomaAnd he was in agony.And in August, 2015, he traveled to Dignitas in Switzerlandto have assistance to end his life.

    • 02:20

      SAM DICK [continued]: Bob was in agony.His friends attested to the fact that he couldn't sleep.He found it difficult to eat.And the medication and pain relief he was givenwas not helping him all of the time.Bob simply wanted control over the timing and mannerof his death.He didn't want to die.

    • 02:40

      SAM DICK [continued]: He didn't want to be terminally ill.He most certainly didn't want to die in Switzerland,preferring to die amongst his loved ones back at home.But the law in the UK forced him to do so.Not only does the law mean that no one can assist youin the UK, which means he had to travel to Switzerlandto get the medical assistance he needed,

    • 03:03

      SAM DICK [continued]: but the methods that he could havetaken himself to end his own life in the UKare not guaranteed.We know that many terminally ill peopletry to end their lives in the UK using illegal drugs from onlineor over the counter prescription drugs.But they're not guaranteed.They're not safe.And in some cases, people end up physically damaged as a result,

    • 03:28

      SAM DICK [continued]: but don't end their lives.So Bob paid thousands and thousands of poundsto go to Dignitas to guarantee himselfthe painless and comfortable death that he wanted.And he'd already traveled to Dignitas before,a year and a half earlier, when his wife Ann Hall, whowas suffering from a condition called progressive supranuclear

    • 03:49

      SAM DICK [continued]: palsy, went to Dignitas to end her own life.He saw her have the comfortable and dignified death that shewanted and he wanted the same for himself.But Bob is a rare case.One person every two weeks from the UK travels to Dignitas,but there are many hundreds more terminally ill people who

    • 04:10

      SAM DICK [continued]: are ending their lives at home.They often do so alone because they'reworried that their loved ones will be prosecutedfor assisting them or they do so in dangerous ways whichin no way guarantee them a painless and dignified death.

    • 04:30

      SAM DICK [continued]: There are a number of ways Dignity in Dying campaignsto change the law.The first is by trying to mobilize public opinion,raise public awareness, and get the publicto take action directly.We raise public awareness by usingthe media to profile stories of people like Bob Coleso that the public understand the issue,

    • 04:50

      SAM DICK [continued]: understand the consequences of the current law,and understand how and why we're trying to change it.We try and mobilize the public so that they can bring pressureto bear on decision makers by giving themsimple actions that they can understand and doquickly, such as writing to their MP,holding events locally, or just entering the debate by writing

    • 05:13

      SAM DICK [continued]: to the media, either locally or nationally.We also try and influence parliamentariansand policymakers directly through briefings, meetings,and private conversations.It's vitally important that thosethat have the power to make decisionsunderstand the arguments, are presented with the evidencethat we've collated, and have a relationship with us.

    • 05:38

      SAM DICK [continued]: We also try and change the law through using the courtsby bringing cases which clarify the law, test the law,so the courts, we hope, eventually rulethat the current law is broken and it needs to be changed.We also try and mobilize unusual voices, so peoplethat policymakers and decision makers wouldn't expect

    • 05:59

      SAM DICK [continued]: to be in support of the law.Because as you'd expect, they anticipate that wewould want to change the law.That's why we're here.That is less powerful than, say, the British Medical Associationor disability organizations or the Churchcoming out in support of the law.So we try and have conversations with those organizations,

    • 06:20

      SAM DICK [continued]: persuade them, so that in time, theyendorse the change in the law and come out in favor of it,so building coalitions of supportrather than simply us and our supporters.There are many different ways that Dignity in Dying

    • 06:40

      SAM DICK [continued]: works with government.And you have to understand that governmentis a combination of both politicians,so ministers and special advisors,and officials who are tasked with changingpolicies and coming up with policy recommendations.And you have to work with them in different ways.So you want to try and influence policy makers

    • 07:01

      SAM DICK [continued]: so they understand the issues and when they'rehaving conversations and briefings with ministersor political officials, that they're giving accurateinformation and advice.You do this through meetings.You do this through responding to consultation exercisesthat the government conducts.And you do this through raising the profileof the issue in the media so indirectly, officials

    • 07:23

      SAM DICK [continued]: are aware of it.You also need to influence the political elementsof government directly, so through having conversationswith them, through having conversationswith those parties' supporters, through raising issuesin debates in the media, through having parliamentary devices

    • 07:44

      SAM DICK [continued]: used, whether that's early day motions, 10 minute ruledebate, or private members' bills so the politicians areengaged with the issue and they understand the issue.And it's important throughout allthat to have robust evidence and be able to demonstratethat there is a problem and that there is a public demand

    • 08:06

      SAM DICK [continued]: to resolve that problem and that you have a ready made solutionso that policymakers and politicians knowthat they can do something about that problem.So there are two key ways to change

    • 08:26

      SAM DICK [continued]: the law through using bills.So you can either have a government billwhich is endorsed or brought forwardby the government of the day or a private member's bill whichis brought forward by a back bench MP.Government bills are far more likely to be successfuland enter into laws.Private members' bills are less so.

    • 08:47

      SAM DICK [continued]: At Dignity in Dying, we've recentlysported a private member's bill called the Assisted DyingBill, which as of September the 11th, was unsuccessful.It was voted out at the second reading.And what you do in support of those billsis brief parliamentarians, draft the bill in the first place,in many instances, having consulted

    • 09:09

      SAM DICK [continued]: with relevant professionals, legal advisors, and so on,advise MPs on what the content of the bill is,and help steward that bill through Parliament.But as I said, private members' billsare highly unlikely to be successfulbecause they're seen as an attempt for MPsto debate an issue rather than change the law.

    • 09:31

      SAM DICK [continued]: Government bills are something different.Government bills are almost the ideal,as it were, because once the government endorses a billand can provide support to the bill,it's far more likely to change the law.That's because with the weight of the government behind it,with the whipping operation of MPs,and with the vast support of the civil service

    • 09:53

      SAM DICK [continued]: briefing on policy, consulting on the law,you're far more able to get a substantive, tight, legallysound bill.So you support that bill in a different waythan perhaps you would in a private member's bill.A private member's bill, you are the people responsible for it.

    • 10:13

      SAM DICK [continued]: A government bill, you tend to just lend your supportand brief in support of it.So the equal marriage bill, for example,that was a government bill.And the role the organizations played in support of that billwere simply behind the scenes work with policy officialsso that the bill was sound and briefing parliamentarians

    • 10:35

      SAM DICK [continued]: and conducting media work to demonstrate your supportfor it.So there are two different ways that bills canbe brought through Parliament.Bills aren't the only way to change the law.And bills are often a way to test Parliamentto raise the issue in and of itself, particularly

    • 10:56

      SAM DICK [continued]: private member's bill in this instance.But you can also change the law through the courts, at leastdemonstrating the case that the law is brokenand encouraging the courts through bringing cases,to declare that the current law needs to be fixed.That is a really useful way to force the governmentto bring forward legislation or for them to bring forward

    • 11:19

      SAM DICK [continued]: regulations to change the law.The process of getting a bill through Parliamentis often long and complex.But in the simplest terms, a billcan start off in either the House of Commons

    • 11:40

      SAM DICK [continued]: or the House of Lords.But for it to enter the statute books,it has to be passed by both the House of Commonsand the House of Lords.So assuming that a bill is introduced firstinto the House of Commons, a billis drafted either by an MP or the governmentand is published for parliamentarians to view.

    • 12:04

      SAM DICK [continued]: It receives a first reading, whichis pretty much just a formality of reading out the billand saying that it's being introducedto the House of Parliament for debate and for the passagethrough Parliament.It then goes to second reading, whichis an opportunity for MPs, in this instance,

    • 12:25

      SAM DICK [continued]: to debate more the principle of the bill than the detail.So MPs will have time to speak, enter the debate,pose questions to each other, pose questionsto the government or to the MP that's drafted the bill.And if they decide that they agree

    • 12:46

      SAM DICK [continued]: the principle of the bill, whether it shouldhappen at all, through a vote.And if that vote is successful in favor of the bill moving on,the bill moves on to what is called committee stage.Now, committee stage is often where a small group of MPsreview the legislation in detail, so clause by clause,

    • 13:10

      SAM DICK [continued]: schedule by schedule.On occasion, the committee stage can actuallybe held by the entire House of Commons,so every MP can go through that process.But more often than not, it's justa small group of people which representthe political makeup of the Commons

    • 13:30

      SAM DICK [continued]: and the supporters versus opponents.So there are people that don't support the billon that committee, often.So they go through.They suggest amendments.They scrutinize the bill.And should they agree for it to move back to report stage,the bill goes back to the entire House

    • 13:50

      SAM DICK [continued]: of Commons with any amendments or suggested amendments.And that gives the entire House of Commonsan opportunity to discuss the bill as amended,to suggest any subsequent amendments,and vote on those proposed amendments.If those votes are successful, the bill is amended.If those votes aren't successful, it isn't.And then once they've done that, if they

    • 14:12

      SAM DICK [continued]: vote in support of the bill moving on,it receives third reading and moveson to the House of Lords for the similar process to be followed.So in the House of Lords, the billwould also receive a second reading, a committeestage, a report stage.And then if it receives a third reading and getsvoted in favor of, it moves off for royal assent for the queen

    • 14:35

      SAM DICK [continued]: to sign the bill, again, a formality,and then it becomes law.Research is incredibly important to any campaignto change the law.Research is the thing that demonstratesthere is a problem that needs to be fixed.

    • 14:58

      SAM DICK [continued]: So whether that's talking to people affected by the law,collating their experiences, quantifyingthe number of people that are affected by the current law,that's vitally important.So at Dignity in Dying, we've done researchinto the numbers of people that travel to Dignitas every yearto end their own lives and the numbers of terminally

    • 15:19

      SAM DICK [continued]: ill people that commit suicide every year,so things that demonstrate that there is a problem thatneeds to be fixed.But research is also really importantto demonstrate that the public and key constituencieswithin the public support changing the lawand identify that there's a problem that needs to be fixed.So we've conducted polls with organizations such as Populous

    • 15:43

      SAM DICK [continued]: with samples of 5,000 and above, peoplethat represent the breadth of British society,about whether they support assisteddying for terminally ill and mentally competent with lessthan six months to live.And they overwhelmingly support the changein the law to allow terminally ill people to end their lives.

    • 16:05

      SAM DICK [continued]: 82% of British people from that researchsay they support the change that we proposed.79% of people of faith say they support a change in the law.And 86% of disabled people say that they support a changein the law as we propose.So research is really important to demonstrate

    • 16:26

      SAM DICK [continued]: the problem, the scale of the problem,and demonstrate public support.But research can also be useful in tryingto identify the solution to the problem,so researching what the experience isof other countries and states hasbeen that have and have not introduced this law.So for example, research into the experiences of Oregon,

    • 16:49

      SAM DICK [continued]: a state in the United States whichhas introduced an assisted dying law similar to the onewe proposed, to demonstrate the numbers of people that actuallytake comfort from being able to access assisted dying,the numbers of people that have actually made useof the legislation and had an assisted death,

    • 17:09

      SAM DICK [continued]: and the impact on wider society and how the public have gonefrom being opposed to that measure to beingsupportive of it, having seen it in action over 18 years.So research can help you flesh outwhat the solution is so that you can present to policymakers,decision makers, the media, and Parliament

    • 17:30

      SAM DICK [continued]: a solution that will work and that they can support.The media and the press is reallyimportant to any campaign to changethe law and any campaign, full stop,but you have to understand that the media and the pressaren't one homogeneous group.

    • 17:51

      SAM DICK [continued]: They have different interests.They have different audiences.And they're read and listened to by different people.So you use different parts of the media and pressin different ways depending on what you want.At Dignity in Dying, in our campaign,we were not only keen to convey that the public supportthe bill and that there is a personal element what we're

    • 18:12

      SAM DICK [continued]: trying to do and the changes we'retrying to see, but also to conveythat, in detail, the law is broken currentlyand that the bill before Parliamentwas safe and sensible and the right thing to do.So in trying to convey the detailand that it was the safe, sensible thing to do,

    • 18:32

      SAM DICK [continued]: we secured comment pieces in placeslike The Times, which is a respected paper whichdoes good analysis, and a really good comment piecefrom a commentator called Daniel Finkelstein, whois respected and is listened to by senior conservativepoliticians, where he in detail analyzed the current law

    • 18:54

      SAM DICK [continued]: and analyzed the bill before Parliamentand came to the conclusion that the law needed to change.We also helped secure front page stories in The Timesfrom Sir Keir Starmer, who is a former directorof public prosecutions, articulatingwhy the current law isn't workingand a comment piece in The Mail on Sundayfrom Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop

    • 19:16

      SAM DICK [continued]: of Canterbury, who outlined the ethical reasons surroundingthe need to change the law, so usingdifferent parts of the press to demonstratethat detailed analysis.But we also, as I said, wanted to convey public supportand the personal side of it.So we helped secure coverage in The Sun,which was two front pages about the story of Bob Cole, which is

    • 19:40

      SAM DICK [continued]: an incredibly compelling case.The Sun's endorsement was a really ringing endorsementthat the people of Britain want the law changed and thinkthat it's currently broken and did it in a very compelling waythat they wanted to read.But how you get the press and media on board depends,too, on the different sections of the media

    • 20:01

      SAM DICK [continued]: you're trying to secure.So those you're trying to get to convince about the detailand do the analysis want accurate information,want expert opinion, want to trust that the details you'regiving them are accurate, and wantto hear different perspectives, whereas thosethat you're trying to convince that the public support thiswant compelling personal stories and case studies,

    • 20:25

      SAM DICK [continued]: want to be able to tell the story in a waythat their readers want to listen to and understand.And that's why sometimes celebritiesare incredibly important because theyare very good at conveying a message in a waythat people want to listen to.And we're incredibly lucky, throughout our campaign

    • 20:45

      SAM DICK [continued]: at Dignity and Dying, to have one of our patronsas Sir Patrick Stewart, who wrote a commentpiece for The Sun and did a number of different piecesfor us which conveyed our message,conveyed that the public supported it, but did itin a way that people wanted to listen to.But your opponents can use the media, too,

    • 21:06

      SAM DICK [continued]: to try and undermine your case.And in our campaign, our opponentssecured a front page, for example,from Archbishop of Canterbury Welby on the front pageof The Observer.So the media can be used by both yourself and your opponentsto convey your messages.

    • 21:27

      SAM DICK [continued]: But there is no doubt how powerfulit can be of demonstrating your caseand of conveying to those that are decision makersthat something needs to happen.I hope you found this talk interesting

    • 21:47

      SAM DICK [continued]: and I hope it gave you an insight into how organizationscampaign to change the law-- in particular, how organizationscan work with Parliament, parliamentarians,the government, and the media.I'll now leave you with some commentsfrom Sir Patrick Stewart, who is one of our patronsand supported our campaign.

    • 22:09

      PATRICK STEWART: We hear a great deal these daysabout the European Convention on Human Rights.Fortunately, we in the United Kingdomare still signatories to that convention.Under the terms of that convention, among other things,it gives one protection from unlawful imprisonment

    • 22:31

      PATRICK STEWART [continued]: and protection from torture.To be terminally ill, to know that your life is very shortlyto end and may end in pain, discomfort--a kind of imprisonment, a kind of torture.

    • 22:55

      PATRICK STEWART [continued]: And yet currently, no one is permitted in this countryto seek assistance to end their life when they are mentallyfully alert and terminally ill.I support Dignity in Dying because personally, I

    • 23:17

      PATRICK STEWART [continued]: don't want to find myself in that situation.But because the stories that one hears continuallyof the suffering of those people condemnedto go on suffering when there are legal options that could bemade available to those people.

    • 23:38

      PATRICK STEWART [continued]: I came to support Dignity in Dyingand actively work for doctor-assisted dyingwhen the wife of a friend of mine, in terrible painand yet still alive, wanted to end her life,

    • 24:00

      PATRICK STEWART [continued]: but she could not do it here in the UKand she could not travel abroad to do that.And she did not want in any way to put the life of her husbandor other members of her family at risk.So one night while her husband was out walking the dog,she put a plastic bag over her head and knotted it tight.

    • 24:24

      PATRICK STEWART [continued]: And that was how her husband found her.That anyone alone should have to sufferin such a way is a crime.[MUSIC PLAYING]

How Organizations Campaign to Change the Law

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Sam Dick discusses Dignity in Dying and the different ways that companies campaign to change laws. Dignity in Dying is a UK organization trying to make it legal for terminally ill patients to request assisted death. Dick discusses the process of presenting a bill, increasing public awareness, and using the press and media to help campaigns.

SAGE Video In Practice
How Organizations Campaign to Change the Law

Sam Dick discusses Dignity in Dying and the different ways that companies campaign to change laws. Dignity in Dying is a UK organization trying to make it legal for terminally ill patients to request assisted death. Dick discusses the process of presenting a bill, increasing public awareness, and using the press and media to help campaigns.

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