Author Topic: The Gagging Law  (Read 8370 times)

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Offline Blongb

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The Gagging Law
« on: September 05, 2013, 08:10:57 pm »
The Gagging Law

The government's rushing through a new law which, if it passes, would have a chilling effect on British democracy and our right to speak up on issues that matter to us.

From May 2014, draconian new rules would prevent non-politicians from speaking up on the big issues of the day. A huge range of campaign groups and charities – everyone from The Royal British Legion, to Oxfam, to the RSPB - are warning about the threat this poses.

It’s telling that so many groups who wouldn't normally agree with each other have united to oppose the gagging law. Groups that speak out in favour of hunting, windfarms, HS2 or building more houses are joining together with groups who say exactly the opposite.

That’s because there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on: in a healthy democracy, everyone should able to express their views. And everyone should be allowed to get organised to highlight what politicians are saying and doing on the issues that matter to them.

Politics is too important to leave to political parties. When we speak up about decisions that affect us and the future of our country, we can often change things for the better.

On Tuesday the gagging law had its first debate in parliament. [1] The brilliant work of hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members - along with over 100 charities, community groups and campaigns - stopped it slipping through quietly. Dozens of MPs highlighted how many of us had contacted them and raised serious concerns about the plan.

The government managed to win a vote for the law to pass to the next stage. But, as The Daily Telegraph put it, they were "given a rough ride" with "grisly scenes in the Commons". [2] Eleven coalition MPs went as far as to rebel. [3] Others said they only backed the government now because they expect changes to be made further down the line. [4]

For an early debate like Tuesday's, this was a good result. It showed that our campaigning is starting to change MPs' minds. But it also showed that we need to do more if we're going to see off this threat to democracy.

Your MP, Guto Bebb, has his next chance to vote on Tuesday. Please can you email him before then, with a link to an updated briefing about the problems with the gagging law?

Before Tuesday's votes, the government sent MPs a "myth buster" document, to persuade them to toe the line. A copy was leaked to 38 Degrees. Sadly, the myth buster contained rather a lot of myths of its own! If we can counter the government's misleading spin, we've got every chance of getting more MPs on board.

A legal expert has written a response the government's myths. It sets out line by line why the gagging law would hit charities, community groups and campaigners. Please can you email Guto Bebb a copy? It would only take a minute or so and could make a big difference.

MPs get another chance to vote next Tuesday. That debate will focus on possible changes which could be made. So by next week we need to have proved to more MPs that the threats posed by the gagging law are real. That means highlighting the problems in the draft law carefully, line by line.

All kinds of groups with all kinds of views are joining together to try to stop this law. We don't all agree about absolutely everything. But we can all agree about this: in a democracy, all kinds of people and groups should be able to express their opinions. Most of us don't want to join a political party. If independent groups get gagged, millions of us will be shut out of the political process.

Please contact Guto Bebb and make sure he's seen the facts about this threat to democracy:

Thanks for being involved,


PS: If you want to find out more information about the bill before you contact Guto Bebb there are lots of links here:

[1] Transcript of second reading debate on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill,
[2] The Telegraph: Evening Briefing: Barnacles back on the boat:
[3] There were two key votes. On the vote on whether or not to give the bill a second reading, there were 5 Conservative rebels: Douglas Carswell, Philip Davies, David Davis, Zac Goldsmith and David Nuttall. There was 1 Lib dem rebel: David Ward.
On the vote on whether or not it should be rushed through (the "Programme Motion") there were 7 Conservative rebels: Andrew Bridgen, Douglas Carswell, Philip Davies, David Davis, Zac Goldsmith, David Nuttall, Chris White. There were 3 Lib dem rebels: Andrew George, Mike Hancock & Stephen Williams
Source: the Labour whips twitter page:
[4] Transcript of second reading debate on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill,
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 07:58:23 am by Ian »
Quot homines tot sententiae: suus cuique mos.
(There are as many opinions as there are people: each has his own view.)